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