The magazine Relevant recently posted an article entitled “5 Questions to Ask before Posting to Social Media,” and while you should read the article there, let me summarize their five questions and add a couple of my own. The author Cara Joyner lists these questions (and my responses follow each of them):
- “Am I seeking approval?” The most “popular” (as in number of page views) post I have ever written was one that I crafted due to the search terms people were using at that time to find my blog. This post was seen by tens of thousands of people, and yet as it grew in popularity, the feeling that I had prostituted myself for views and blog stats also grew. There was nothing wrong with the post per se; what was wrong was my motivation for writing it. I wanted people to visit my blog and so I wrote something timely that I knew would catch their attention and bring them my way. The real crime was that this post was not reflective of all the other things that I had written and was an obvious ploy to seek approval. You will not find that post on this blog.
- “Am I boasting?” There is nothing more obnoxious than somebody blatantly saying on social media: “Hey, look at me. Look at how wonderful I am. Aren’t I a great parent, or friend, or pastor, or whatever.” Just don’t do this. Show a little humility.
- “Am I discontent?” Discontented people are negative people, and nobody wants a steady diet of negativity. Plus, as Joyner implies, “Nothing you will write is going to make you any less discontent or negative, so it’s best to deal with those things before you set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
- “Is This a Moment to Protect?” Not every thing you do in life needs to be posted for the world to see. Some things should remain private. We have even allowed social media and its omnipresence in our lives to disrupt our real life interactions. Put your smartphones and iPads and computers away when are with friends and family. Dare to live in the moment.
- “Is It Kind?” There is little, if any, justification for being nasty on social media. It makes you look like a jerk. Don’t be a jerk . . . especially if you are somebody who claims to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need that kind of publicity from his disciples.
To these five questions, I would add an one other: “Will what I am posting come back to bite me in rear end?” As someone who has experienced this first hand, let me tell you that it is not very pleasant. Before posting anything, always remember that once something is on the internet, it is likely to stay on the internet . . . forever, or at least for a very long time. So think twice before posting your deep thoughts on issues or people. Ask yourself if what you are about to post really reflects who you are, and whether or not you want to be known as the person who wrote those words.