You Don’t Have to Share

cellphone-messageNone of us share everything on social media. We can’t type quickly enough to keep up with all the thoughts we have. But many of us share too much.

I’m not just talking about the actual things we shouldn’t share. I’m not talking about the filter we need to use that many don’t. There are some things I’d rather not see on my social media feeds, but I have to admit that while I can’t control what others post, I can control how much time I spend on social media, what posts I allow, and so on. And sometimes, while I might not be interested in a post, I know someone else likely is. It’s not simply about interest, offense, or impact. It’s about motivation.

I’m talking about the actual sharing process.

Perhaps instead of choosing who we follow based on content, we should choose based on motivation. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But we can start by keeping our own motivation in check.

  • Are you posting to brag? Maybe you don’t want to admit it, but when you have that “I look good! I need to share this moment!” or “What a great family photo!” (even if everyone was arguing just 30 seconds before the camera clicked) or “I just bought the cutest shoes!” when…really? Shoes are post-worthy with all the other needs and issues of the world? Buy a good pair of walking shoes and give them to someone who lives on the streets. Post a photo of that person’s feet in the shoes (if he or she allows it) and challenge your social media friends to do the same. Our world needs a lot less bragging and comparison.
  • Are you posting to get pity or support? Support isn’t a bad thing, but we don’t need to get it through “poor me” posts or “I can’t believe he would ever…” posts. If your goal is to tally the likes and favorites your posts get to prove yourself affirmed, admit that just about anything will be affirmed on social media, given the right audience and context. If there was a dislike button, some of that affirmation would be stolen away. Refuse to leave your affirmation up to the not-so-random sampling of people in your circles. Instead, go face to face to the people you most respect and will speak truth to you.
  • Are you posting out of boredom? There are better ways to spend your time. Read a book. Go for a walk. Meet with a friend. Breathe fresh air. Look around. Help someone.
  • Are you posting to help others? Now, here’s where it gets even more sticky, because what we think is helpful isn’t necessarily helpful. First, we’re all in different places with different issues and needs. Second, soundbites aren’t always as helpful as we want to believe they are. I struggle with this one in particular, because I post what I hope will encourage and challenge others. It’s not just about warm fuzzies. I can’t please everyone. I just pray that any offense someone takes spurs they toward a journey of mercy and understanding.

I’m not questioning your motives as much as I’m keeping my own in check. But hopefully, you’ll take a breath and hold your fingers over the keyboard for just a second longer next time. Check your motives before you post.

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