Social media is useful and entertaining for so many reasons. The typos and blunders alone are worth a scroll through the newsfeed.
In the recent past, I’ve seen such jewels as:
“in the Lord’s pressens”
“ISO simone to mow my yard”
and one of my favs: “y’all bare with me”
After I got done laughing at these (the last two in particular!), I really got to thinking about the last one. Obviously, this means “bear with me”, as in, please be patient with my long or convoluted or repetitive post. However, the words as they are actually make some sense.
Bare with me.
In a previous blog, I discuss the social penetration theory . I mention how it is weird or inappropriate to share too much information too quickly.
Social media has thrown a kink in this theory. We have relationships on social media with a great many people (I have over 800 friends myself), and we share a great deal of surface level information. These relationships aren’t inherently deep. But that’s kinda OK. After all, how well do you know all 800 of those people? It’s fine if all they know about you is your favorite color, what songs you like, and where you get your haircut.
Social media is about networking, and part of networking is a crossover between your personal and professional lives. That’s fine. What’s NOT fine is when you assume a depth of relationship–even if it is subconsciously–and you begin sharing TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
What is TMI?
Obviously, this does depend on the specific relationship. We know that. But on social media, the lines blur. We may have 50 friends who are good friends, 200 that are just acquaintances, and 5 who we’d consider great, close friends. But posts you make on your feed are automatically available to all the friends you’ve accepted. (You can adjust individual posts and control who sees them a bit more, but it takes work.) While it’s fine to tell everyone on your list “I love chicken nuggets!”, it’s less OK to tell every person on your list all about your digestive issues.
I’d say the guideline is:
If you wouldn’t say it to everyone in person, don’t say it to everyone online.
However, some people are guilty of over-sharing even in person. It’s hard to pin down truly WHY these people do this, but it ultimately doesn’t matter the psychological motivation. The effects of over-sharing remain the same regardless.
Case in point, and one I’ve seen far too often: a person is upset with someone with whom they have a significant relationship. It may be a close friend, a family member, or a significant other. They are clearly invested in this relationship, and would claim, if asked, that they want this relationship to be good and restored. SO they post vague (or not-so-vague) statuses on Facebook about these people.
Please pray about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.
I just have to vent about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.
*Posts vague emotional status*. When asked what’s wrong, elaborates in comments about *specific situation that incriminates the other person*.
Once again, people could actually be motivated by some amount of need–for prayer, help, discussion, relief, etc. But there is obviously an element of wanting to trash the other person. EVEN IF the statements you’re making are true, they still should not always be shared, especially with hundreds of Facebook friends.
Some might say they are not being slanderous, because the statements are true.
However, please tell me your motives are 100% pure, and you are in no way presenting a false spin on “true” facts.
Please tell me you are not painting yourself to be the victim with no regard for the fact that you might be to blame for some aspect of the situation.
Please tell me that even when you’re saying something “out of love”, you are not, in fact, making the other person look bad or stupid.
As I say in other cases, when in doubt, shut your mouth.
If a person needs to vent, ask for counsel, ask for prayer, ask for help, let them privately speak to people with whom they are very close–preferably people who won’t just blow sunshine up their nose. Preferably, let them speak to people who advise them in good and healthy ways while still being supportive.
Because what happens if your relationship with that EVIL person is restored one day? So maybe he or she didn’t see all the poop you were slinging at them (IT’S MY FACEBOOK; I SAY WHAT I WANT). Maybe they know they were in the wrong, and they repent.
Or maybe they DO hear through the grapevine all the stuff you were saying. Maybe they now feel very awkward with any of your other friends. AND how can you expect your other friends and family to actually show love and support to your person, once that relationship is restored, when all you’ve given your friends and family are reasons to strongly dislike and distrust your person?
It is inappropriate to air your dirty laundry on social media. It is a mark of maturity and rationality and good character to keep things to yourself. If you need to “bare yourself”, there are outlets for it: pastors, elders, older men/women mentors, close friends, parents, siblings. Honestly, there’s no excuse for throwing it all on social media. If a person does this, I do not trust their motives. At the very least, they are acting out of negative emotions in a way that they should not.
No one handles him or herself perfectly all the time–or, heck, even most of the time. I don’t. But that obviously means there is room for growth, and it would do each of us well to try to handle ourselves in a way that honors God, respects others, and does not SHAME ourselves.
Be kind, friends.