Let’s face it, SOCIAL MEDIA is big! What started as a way for college kids to look each other up and communicate has turned into a worldwide presence!
- Informational blogs and articles
- Hearing from real friends and the ones who just “hang out” occasionally
- Playing SCRABBLE
- That I’m moved to pray when a need is shared
- Finding people from high school and college
- Keeping in touch with present friends
- Meeting new people with like interests
- Seeing what others pin on their boards
- Seeing job hunts – rejoicing when they’re found, tweets…
- Seeing the most recent pictures of trips, daily routines, and grandchildren on various social media
It has a value that is hard to calculate, yet there are other values missing.
One can’t calculate the missing value of:
- A shared cup of coffee or tea
- A casual dinner to “catch up”
- Face to face communication
- A hug, a tear, or a good laugh
The virtual world will never be able to simulate what happens in the real world of caring and compassion.
God has given us relationships for a reason and we should be mindful to care for them.
But, sadly, social media is also big in the social status department of “de-friend, block, and bully.”
Recently someone shared with me their hurt feelings because someone de-friended and blocked them. They were trying to figure out why. I didn’t have an answer except to share that both virtual and real friendships hold some things in common. One commonality is that people don’t always know how to be kind and communicate well – face to face or on the written page. When they are jealous of something we did, or somewhere we went, when we seem to have more friends or “likes” than they do, when they don’t agree with us….they find it easier to de-friend and block a friend than to either let it go because it’s not really a big issue, or speak with us about an issue if it is a big deal. A true friend would reach out. A virtual friend hides.
For me, on those occasions I’ve searched to connect with a friend and notice our status now shows we’re no longer friends, I don’t have to assume. I know they de-friended me. I know that, because I don’t de-friend friends unless they post nasty things or are nasty on my page in their comments. I’ve probably de-friended 3 people and I didn’t actually know them (perhaps met them at a conference or other social situation). Of the times I’ve noticed someone de-friend me, they were usually the kind of people I don’t considered a good friend anyway. (And no worries…they won’t even see/read this!) I was actually glad one particular gal parted our ways….again. I say again, because in the real world of friendship her passive aggressive nature was bullying. No problem here – and yes, we discussed it and tried to work through it in the past. Another gal told me she didn’t like that I encouraged others (including her) on social media and said she was going to de-friend me. Who wouldn’t be relieved? I (and neither should you) spend too much time worrying about such trivial silliness, pettiness, and mean-spirited-ness. I’d like to think we both have enough real “friend” relationships on which to work in kind, encouraging, and helpful ways.
I’d like to suggest we enjoy our real and our virtual relationships in ways that don’t cause hurt and bullying. Why not nurture and encourage others even on the written page of social media?
Let’s live out Romans 12: 9-16:
- Love one another without hypocrisy
- Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good
- Desire to be devoted to one another, giving preference to others with honor
- Contribute to the needs that others have, serving friends and even strangers through hospitality, kindness, compassion, and words of encouragement
- Be of the same mind with one another
- Not being haughty, but associating with various kinds of people
- Desire to rejoice with those who are rejoicing
- Take a step to weep with those who are weeping through grief, encountering a deep trial of life, or simple walking through the challenges of trials of everyday life
And if we can’t do that….maybe it’s time to sign off.
Signing out, but not off!