I like social media used well, in particular Facebook and Twitter. Instagram to a lesser extent. But social media makes me crazy in many ways. It is a good way to send out massive amounts of bad or misleading theology. It is a convenient way to be passive aggressive. It is too common a forum for bullying.
How do people of faith engage well with social media? From a faith perspective a couple of commandments come into play (actually, most of them do but we’ll limit our discussion to a few).
First – You shall have no other Gods before me. Ouch. How often do other things become our god? How often does an object or a technology become our god? The question that highlights my failure in this is to think about how much time I spend with God and how much time I spend with Facebook & Twitter. Ouch.
Fourth – Honor your father and mother. Well, the obvious thing (to me, anyways) is the role parents play in shaping young people’s use and experience on social media. Parents have the responsibility to set the boundaries for their kid’s use of social media. For a conversation starter, check here
. This is a conversation starter
not a blueprint as a few of these ideas I disagree with.
The other part of the fourth commandment is to remember that our parents may not be part of social media. The easy choice is to make fun of their lack of technical skills but the truth is we still need to be in communication with them. Maybe that means a good old fashioned phone call. I know, GASP! The least we can do is quit giving them crap about not using social media.
Fifth – You shall not murder. How do we kill someone on social media? Luther’s Large Catechism teaches ‘we must not kill, either with hand, heart, mouth, signs, gestures, help nor counsel. With that in mind, I ask again, how do we kill someone on social media? Our words can hurt and can destroy souls. And in too many cases, suicide has resulted from social media activities.
Eighth – No bearing false witness. Oh boy. This commandment gets violated on a regular and ongoing basis, doesn’t it. There are so many half-truths and misrepresentations on the interwebs as to be beyond belief. Sad but true.
If we frame our social media use in terms of the ten commandments, or at least four of them, does it change our perspective? It should, I think. Or at the very least, realign our perspective. Social media can be and is a great thing but overall we can do better.