Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

I hear more and more people bemoaning the negativity that seems to permeate social media these days.  I can’t speak of your newsfeed, but on mine, I see posts weekly from individuals that threaten to delete Facebook from their phones or from their life.  In fact, I have felt this way myself in the past, but all that changed this past Easter.

A Social Media Fast

For Easter, our church observes Lent, although not in the traditional sense.  We ask folks to abstain, for 40 days, from things in their life that have become a distraction to their spiritual journey.  For me, this was obviously social media.  In particularly Facebook.

I had gotten into a routine, coming through the election cycle, of having regular debates via Facebook about a plethora of subjects I feel passionate about.  I had come to the conclusion that I was spending too much time consumed with these conversations that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.  It is doubtful than anyone’s mind is ever changed through most of what happens on social media.

During the Easter season, I decided to cut back on social media, but cut out Facebook all together.  This was not easy, as I use social media for ministry and to run my blog.  But, I jumped in feet first anyway.

Taking Control

On the other side of this experience, I realized that I did not miss social media at all.  I had other ways of communicating with the people that I am close with.  The only negative was not having a line of communication with the people that were becoming a part of my tribe.  Those folks online that share my values and heart for ministry.

As I eased my way back into the throws once again, I could feel the same tension mounting.  A need to defend the things I was passionate about, a need to correct what I perceived to be an error in thinking, or to confront people that were just obnoxious.  At this point I made a couple of choices that have done wonders for my stress level.

If you are like I was, and Facebook is sucking the life out of you I want to offer two suggestions that I believe will help:

  1. Use the hide feature.  If you have someone on your newsfeed that consistently posts subject matter that you fundamentally disagree with and it is hard for you to pass it by, hide them so you will not see their content.  Get into the habit of hiding posts and people that tempt you to respond and get sucked into trivial and asinine arguments that waste your valuable time and create unwanted and unneeded stress.
  2.  Delete the troublemakers.  If you have people that are consistently pouncing on your posts and picking fights, delete them.  If you have people that are mean and hateful, delete them.  One has to wonder how good a friendship is, when the only interactions you have are in disagreement, or when someone thinks they have permission to treat you in a way that is unacceptable.  I made the decision that I did not want to be associated with those kinds of people, no matter how long we have known each other.  I have also made the decision to delete people that consistently post rude, negative, or hateful rhetoric, even if it is not directed at me.  The truth is, I would not want to be in or around those kinds of conversations when face to face, therefore, I don’t have to choose to be around it online.

My Challenge To You

Use your social media accounts to make the world a better place.  This doesn’t mean that you cannot share your opinion on things that matter to you.  Just don’t waste your time arguing over everything and don’t get sucked in by others that want this.

Facebook is an amoral tool.  It can be good or bad depending on the user.  You can take back control of your life and your stress level just by making a couple changes in how you interact with social media.  Perhaps, like me, if you took a small sabbatical from online interactions, you might gain some perspective.  From my point of view, it can be a life changer.

Bottom Line

Life is too short to waste it.  Evaluate your social interactions online and determine whether they are making you better or bitter.  Make the decision today to clean up your social media and distance yourself from those people that do not make your life better.  You may feel apprehensive at first, but after a while, you will realize you never missed them, and you are better off.

Also, evaluate how you interact with others.  You need to ask the same questions about yourself that you ask about the folks that affect you.  Are you making someone’s life better or bitter.  If you are not making others lives better, change the way you interact.  Give people permission to have their own opinion and give them the freedom to be wrong.  Take a positive approach to conversations and grow the relationship.  Earn the right to be heard.  When people know you have their best interest at heart, they value what you think and will ask for you opinion without you having to interject it.

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