I serve as social media coordinator for our small town’s annual fall Chillifest. It’s a blast to see so many people come together and serve, volunteer, and enjoy the weekend. As the Chilli Capital of Illinois, our town welcomes many out-of-towners, some who come back to visit family and some who visit to compete in the chilli-cooking competition, since a win guarantees an invitation to the international competition.
I am often running around when the prizes are awarded, because there is a lot going on as each day wraps up. I know the results will be published on media outlets, and I can share it on our event page. But I was available at the end of the second day to livestream the awards. I had a great vantage point, and I settled in. The awards take a while, since multiple awards are given for each of the four categories, but I made it through the entire awards without losing connection or experiencing distractions.
I clicked to finish then share the video. Otherwise, only those who watched it live could enjoy it. By finishing and sharing, many others who connect through our page could experience the excitement of the cooks who had worked so hard, not to mention find out if their favorites had won, since we also give people’s choice awards for each category.
But people who follow our page didn’t see the video. Because I clicked on the wrong page before clicking “go live.” I didn’t realize it until I shared the video. I manage several social media pages, so it’s a fairly easy mistake to make. There’s no way to move a livestreamed video from one page to another. I simply had to remove it.
Sometimes we’re on the wrong page. We confuse or cross the line between our responsibilities. Not just with social media, but with our stories, reactions, advice, relationships, and more. We’re going to confuse our roles and responsibilities at times. It’s going to happen, but what’s the outcome?
In my case, I was a bit disappointed, but posting a livestream to the wrong audience didn’t cause any embarrassing problems. It might have seemed like an odd fit for the unintended audience, but it wasn’t offensive or unsettling. Just confusing.
It was a good reminder that we need to be able to post the same thing anywhere. Not that we will or should, because it might not be the best fit, but what if we did so in error? Beyond social media, when the roles and responsibilities in our lives get confused or blurred, is it a simple mistake that doesn’t cause anything other than a pause and an “oops,” or does the damage run a bit deeper? Have we unnecessarily offended or shocked someone? How much repair do we need to do, and are we willing to admit it and do the work?
Not a single one of us is perfect. It’s not possible. But every one of us can be authentic. And that requires us to diligently pursue honesty and vulnerability. The more authentic we are in all areas of our lives, the less we have to remember the stories we’ve told and rules we follow with various people. The less we have to filter what is approved and what isn’t. Authenticity gives us a freedom that always includes respect for ourselves and others. A goal of anything less cheapens the possibility of who God created us to become.