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Does God Like Your Facebook Status?




by Susanne Dietze

Have you ever wished there was an “unlike” button on Facebook?

Just for the record, I’m not easily affronted. And when I am, my husband is quick with his common refrain: “don’t attribute what they said/did to malice.”

But this time, someone posted a status update that offended me. Without knowing the intent of the poster (malicious or thoughtless or otherwise), I nevertheless found the update to be belittling of others, shrouded in a so-called joke. Right or wrong, I took it personally.

To me, there's a difference between starting a discussion/sharing an opinion, and calling everyone who doesn't agree with you stupid/robotic/insane. Whether it's about politics, parenting choices, theology, organic food, or what-have-you, I'm all for discussion. I'm not, however, all for putting down others who see things differently.

This particular status update was like a fist in the gut to me. Even though I would not have hit the “unlike” button if one existed, I would have wanted to use it just to make the not-so-loving point. (Yes, I am ashamed now by my quickness to anger.)

I’m sure I’m not the first to get steamed by something on Facebook.

Facebook can be weird. It’s fabulous for keeping in touch with friends. Those of us who are writers befriend agents, editors, authors, and publishers. In this way, we learn about the industry, cultivate relationships, and “get our names out there.” We share our experiences and show that we’re real, normal, interesting people.

But what else are we sharing about ourselves? When we post, are we revealing our sparkling personalities, or could we be revealing TMI, judgmental hearts, insensitivity to others, or lack of impulse control?

Everyone from our neighbors to our employers have access to our thoughts, experiences, and jokes when we share on these sites. It’s been said—loudly and often—how important it is to use common sense when we’re on social networking sites, to think before we type.

I would go a bit further and suggest we apply what I call Christian common sense: consideration of how our words, thoughts, and actions affect our relationships, ministries, and God’s plans.

A few basic questions to bear in mind:
  •  Who is your audience? Whether it’s on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest, keep in mind who can view what you write, post, or pin. Can only “friends” see your posts? How about “friends of friends”? Keep in mind that people you don’t know might be able to view your status, links, and photos. And they can judge you for it.
  • When sharing a stimulating idea or opinion, is your intention to start a dialogue or to shame or bully others into seeing things your way? 
  •  Could you alienate someone by your post? If you have professional followers/friends, will they be more or less likely to pursue a professional relationship with you?
This doesn’t mean we should be bland, boring, or anyone other than the interesting, unique people God created us to be when we’re on Facebook. This doesn't mean we cannot share what's on our minds or hearts, even if they're controversial. Political opinions, parenting methods, and theological questions are not taboo, and posing questions can engender some great discussions.

But we could be doing ourselves and our relationships a disservice if we don’t examine our motives or methods when we share.

How we deal with Facebook should be the same as how we deal with the rest of life. If Christ is integrated into every fiber of our beings, He should be present in our Facebook conduct, too.

For the Scriptures say, "You must be holy because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16

So before you post, here are some things to consider:
  • Rephrasing a potentially combustive opinion into something calmer isn’t difficult. If it could cause offense (whether to a potential employer or a dear friend), consider how to soften your words. Putting others down to make ourselves feels better isn’t just unprofessional, it’s unrighteous.
  • Ask if your post would embarrass you if the wrong person saw it. If the answer is yes, check yourself for gossip. Gossip is a sin, whether it’s through lips or a keyboard.
  • Consider how you best respond to information. Most of us do not respond to shaming or bullying, so using those tactics to sway others to our viewpoints on Facebook probably won’t work, either.

Managing our dealings on Facebook isn’t just a professional issue. It’s a spiritual one, too. When Christ is at the core of our impulses, decisions, and choices, we become builders of his kingdom through all kinds of mediums. Even social networking.

What's the funniest or neatest thing you've seen posted on Facebook?

 ***
Susanne Dietze has written love stories since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Comments

  1. I try not to share too many of those funny photos people make....oh but they are so cute.

    I have a wide variety of friends but I think about what the teen girls at church when I post. I'm all for being true to yourself and not trying to be something you're not, but I agree we must use this medium of speaking our mind carefully.

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  2. I tend to unsubscribe from people who are rude and incendiary. I have a few people I'm close to doing that to right now because they've been so insulting and disrespectful to our president. I have a feeling that by elections I'll have less friends showing up on my status on both sides.

    The saddest thing I see on facebook is an old friend from my Christian college who is now a very angry and vocal homosexual. She says a lot of bitter things, but I keep her because she was once one of my best friends and because I want to learn. She was hurt terribly by the church, and I hope somehow in listening to her I can better know how to approach the subject.

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  3. Deb, I like how you consider your teenage friends when you post. I think that's a wise guide.

    The Bible talks about the purity of our speech so many times. It's definitely a discipline.

    I have shared some good pics others post on FB, too. I've also been known to post Star Wars pics, videos, and other fluff. I like fluff.

    And I always love it when you post pics of your grandbabies!

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  4. wow Dina
    i hurt for your friend. something damaging to her must have happened for her to pursue the homosexual lifestyle. i'm glad you keep her as a friend as well - she needs you.
    i've a half-brother who is homosexual and i confess, i don't understand it and i've been able to talk with him a little, but he lives far away. far enough away that i've never met his partner, with whom he's been in a relationship for 10 years. good grief, a decade and i've never met his significant other in person.

    i really limit info on Facebook. mostly anything i write is positive feedback to what family/friends have posted. i don't really post anything myself - i've never felt my life is that interesting.

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  5. Dina, I think it's commendable that you haven't severed ties with someone who holds different views. God doesn't call us to hide out with people who are just like us. Relationships are key.

    I certainly don't agree with all of my facebook friends about everything. Political vitriol exhausts me. I enjoy discussion. I do not always enjoy debate, but I engage in it. I abhor belittling, bullying, and hatred. When it comes from Christians, it makes me sad. Yes, I know we're all sinners, but that doesn't make it right. Even when it's couched as a joke.

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  6. Thanks, Deb. It's interesting to me for sure. It's so obvious that she's a very wounded person. I think in her mind, at least currently, she's blaming all her hurt on people who don't embrace her lifestyle.

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  7. DebH, thanks for sharing your story. Family relationships--no matter the issue--can be tricky. I pray you and your brother can get some time together soon.

    One thing that scares me about Facebook is how easily others can take your photos or writings and share them on their pages. Someone did this with my husband's profile pic--twice! The intent wasn't creepy, but it reminded me how careful I need to be with what I share.

    Thanks for visiting, Deb. Have a great weekend.

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  8. Dina, I love the prayer of St. Francis: "make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love..."

    I commend you for sowing love.

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  9. I hate election year for facebook statuses.I think the key to facebook statuses is the same as speech--always with grace seasoned with salt.

    I think at one point in my life, I might have gotten into the mob/inflammatory posts. And I kind of regret that past inclination. I see them and shake my head, and rarely comment on them. I don't believe such posts are designed to generate discussion, rather they're meant to bolster a group of similarly minded people in their own opinions, and bully those that don't share them.

    I have a very diverse group of facebook friends.I hope they find my posts interesting, informative, and a bit quirky while still reflecting the mind of Christ, rather than caustic and narrow-minded.

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  10. Amen, Barb. "Grace seasoned with salt." On Facebook we present a witness just as we do when we're face to face. And it's very easy to forget that.

    I have to check my motives. If I'm posting something to make myself feel better about my decisions or opinions at others' expense, it's not ok.

    Something else I've thought of is how humor doesn't always translate well into 140 characters or less. Or into emails. Something sarcastic that could bring a smile when delivered face-to-face can sting when it's offered online. (I say this as one who enjoys sarcasm. I use it plenty.)

    I like reading what you have to say on FB. ;)

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  11. I'm still relatively new to FB. I enjoy being able scroll through and see what everyone has been up to and/or what's made them laugh today. Especially when I don't have the energy for email. I tend to stay away from political comments and other inflammatory subjects. It makes me tired. And like most of you,I really dislike mean-spirited posts.

    I've really been happy to finally catch up and reconnect with my best friend from junior high and high school. That's been fun!

    Susie, this is a fantastic post!

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  12. Hey Suzie, I'm glad you reconnected with an old friend! I was able to do that, too. Pretty amazing.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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  13. Ditto what Barb said... I hate election years on FB.
    I "try" not to post offensive, objectionable things. Usually it's the things I think won't cause a stir that create the most uproar.
    That said, like Dina, I have made a point of keeping friends who have wildly differing views than mine on all sorts of subjects, for two reasons: 1) I need to be aware of where other people are at, not just the people who subscribe to my same views and ideals, if I'm to be able to present Christ to them in a way they can understand. 2) If everything that popped up on my Facebook page was the same, I'd be incredibly bored... not to mention close-minded. Sad, the most angry, obnoxious, vicious people I've run into on FB aren't the wiccans or the agnostics or the atheists or the new-agers, they are the right-wing moral conservatives who seem to think their Christian label gives them the right to belittle, demean, and abuse others, including those who are in authority, which the Bible specifically warns us against. *sigh* But I can't "unfriend" them either, because if I do, I close the lines of communication with them and they may never see things in a different light!
    EEK. Such a challenging question, Susie, and you're right, we should ask ourselves if God likes our status (or at least if it's true!) before we hit "enter."

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  14. Good points, Niki. I love seeing/reading so many different forms of expression on Facebook. The world is so rich.

    The trick is building up when we post, rather than tearing down.

    Thanks.

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  15. http://facebookstatus.us/

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