26 July 2018

10 questions before you click ‘share’

Someone half my age last week tried to coach me on using Instagram because well let’s face it, I’m out of date and Facebook is passé for millennials – maybe too much information or too many adds? Or perhaps it’s just that young people still don’t want to go to the same party as their parents!

Facebook has been in the bad books lately. The share price plunged and Mark Zuckerberg has been on a world tour saying sorry for mishandling your information. When I logged in to my Facebook account recently a 1 question survey randomly popped up from Facebook asking “Do you think Facebook is good for the world?

And to be honest my first reaction was to tick the “not really” box. I know, that sounds hypocritical given you are probably reading this post via my Facebook. I’m a pragmatic social media user – it’s a communication channel.

But social media, whatever the platform, is fundamentally reshaping the world for good and for ill. It is enabling people of all ages to form connections, and community on a scale never before seen in history. I love the fact that I can connect with vintage VW lovers all over the country! It is also giving voiceless people a voice and disempowered people a powerful platform to bring positive social change e.g. the #metoo movement.

But it is also reshaping politics, news reporting, the nature of social interaction, relational etiquette and even the concept of ‘friend’. Social media is transforming the way we know our world and the way our world knows us – our future employers, even our future partners. Social media has scratched our primal itch for connection and community, all be it a digital replica of the real thing.

Is the phenomena of compulsive self-publication (like selfie posting) just todays form of self-expression? Or is our tech stimulating more pathological problems – addictive or obsessive behaviours, self-objectification or conversely, narcissism? Are we happily fuelling a new class of social and psychological problems or am I over thinking it all?

Have you wrestled with how to interact with the world at your fingertips? I do. And while it seems nonsensical in modern life to be a disengaged, social media hermit. It also seems perilous to have no internal guide-rails which protect and direct such engagement with a potentially massive audience. Organisations the world across have learnt that a social media policy for employees is now essential. Perhaps at a personal level, the same applies?

I think it does. So before I post or share anything on my Lifewords website, Facebook or Instagram - here are 10 questions I ask myself:

1. Why do I really need to post this?

2. What benefit is it to others?

3. Is it respectful and well considered or insensitive and ill informed?

4. Could this leave someone feeling like they are lacking or less in life?

5. Do my hundreds of ‘friends’ really need this much detail about my life? Really, why?

6. Will I be even slightly disappointed if my post doesn’t get likes or reactions?

7. Can I post this and not look at how it is being reacted to for 24 hours or will I be checking in every hour to see how popular I am?

8. How many posts have I already made this week and how much time does that add up to?

9. Who or what is missing out because I’m focused on my next social media interaction?

Lastly, as a follower of Jesus, one more question crowns all the others:

10.Whose kingdom am I building with this – mine or Jesus’? Or to put it another way, does my post or selfie or whatever leave a person longing for what I have, or what Jesus has - attracted to me or Him?

Maybe you think this is all a little over the top, too heavy for something that’s meant to be light hearted fun? Maybe you are right. But to me, everything is leadership and almost everything has an influence on someone else, right down to what you click ‘like’ to. And not just because I'm a pastor, but because I, like everyone who is a Jesus follower, is a 24/7 revealer of another kingdom and another king – Jesus, the one to whom I am ultimately accountable.

Social media presents us all with an unparalleled opportunity to communicate to a worldwide audience. Let’s do that well.

What do you think?