Saturday, February 27, 2010

SWNIDish Advice for Social Media

As a weekend feature, we release our pent-up urge to counsel the world on the use of social media.

Some of our advice we offer exclusively to our Christian sisters and brothers. Other advice applies to humans in general.

For those without the patience or time to read our advice, we summarize it in a sentence:

When using social media, temper honesty both with discretion and with the ambition to become the person you ought to aspire to be.

There's the positive statement. Here are the warnings:

  • Don't use social media for talk about politics or faith that is either constant or overtly polemic. This is akin to the old maxim about avoiding those subjects in polite conversation, with the qualifying observation that such talk is impolite when it becomes dominant or domineering. We have a few friends who do little with their social media but offer self-righteous comments and share highly partisan links, daring their friends to take issue with their pronouncements. Folks, that's what blogs are for. Don't pick a fight where people are posting pictures of their grandchildren or describing the yummy dessert they just overindulged in. (We know one habitual user of social media who expresses as one of his "interests" the pointing out of the hypocrisy of people with whose political and religious positions he disagrees. We find this so-called hobby disturbingly akin to making fun of the disabled.)
  • Confine statements about how wonderfully in love you are with your significant other to messages that can be viewed only by your significant other. Anything that would make people roll their eyes, avert their gaze, stick a finger down their throats or holler "Get a room," if done in their physical presence, should not be offered in their virtual presence. If you sense the need to strengthen your significant other's self esteem with public affirmation, offer congratulations for some public achievement, like cleaning the bathroom or bringing home the bacon.
  • Don't annoy your friends with your social-media gamesmanship, unless you are sure that specific friends are gaming too. Farms, fish, mobsters, pillows, hugs, and their kin are your gifts to the few and your curse on the many. "Spam" is too polite an expression for these unwelcome annoyances.
  • Jesus followers, don't flaunt your liberty. We insist that for Christians the boundaries of alcohol consumption, tobacco use and vulgar language are not marked with bright red lines. But we also insist that many in our family who struggle to recover from habits and addictions and are not well served by those who commonly share their use of alcohol, tobacco and vulgar language in the friendly forums of cyberspace. A little solidarity and support here would go a long way. Here's a guideline: if you wouldn't drop an F-bomb in the actual presence of SWNID,* don't abbreviate the same in your status updates and comments. Likewise for indulging in a substance or conversing enthusiastically about such indulgence. We add that those who think they display their sophistication with their use of alcohol, tobacco or bad words are really displaying their lack of imagination.
  • Closely akin to the previous observation, photos that show drinks and smokes in the foreground, and especially those in which the human subjects raise their glasses--or, worse, bottles--in a salute, put no one in a positive light. The same goes for beach and pool photos, in which no one, even the exceptionally fit, ever looks his or her best. We recommend leaving the camera at home on occasions where photos like these would inevitably result. But for those pictures that do exist, please refrain from sharing, thank you very much.
For those interlocutors who will counter that we are imposing a standard of hypocrisy on social media, we draw attention again to our thesis about aspiration. We hope that by consciously presenting oneself in social media along the lines of a high aspiration, one would become more conscious of such aspirations in private as well. Ultimately, of course, one who does good and well when alone does so because she or he knows that no one is ever genuinely alone. But just perhaps, discreet use of social media can be a stepping-stone to such a consciousness.

*N.B. that SWNID is here cast in the role normally held by "Mom."


T said...

Assuming, of course, that one wishes to be social, rather than just media.

Matt Coulter said...


Greg said...

Well said, SWNID. I have felt a similar post coming from deep within me for a while (perhaps not as humorous). It does make sense to apply similar "filters" to your virtual public world that you would in your real public world. Intriguing that most (apparently) do not feel that way...

Anonymous said...

Taken in the spirit in which it was (well) written.

collinmesser said...

"We hope that by consciously presenting oneself in social media along the lines of a high aspiration, one would become more conscious of such aspirations in private as well."

Well put. This is the meat and potatoes of the post.

I liked the replacement of Mom, with SWNID. Sadly, I feel that a lot of people would better behaved in your presence than in their mother's.

Q said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CDW said...

Alas, when it comes to appropriate comments, SWNID and Mom have very different standards.

Anthony said...

I found it funny that some of those who "liked" your status are the very ones the violate these rules.

Bryan D said...

I've taken great lengths over the last few years to limit my politics baiting. See, the problem with "Youtwitface" is that it lends itself to a higher degree of stream of consciousness than ever found before in human communication other than PTA meetings.