By Nikole Hahn
The mocking voices of social media drive that anger and grief more deeply into a person’s heart with each refresh of the newsfeed. Even what we post online is what we saturate our hearts with, and so, if what we post is angry, grieving, or mocking, we hear that voice, too, deeply in our souls. If social media can infect us this way, what would happen if we altered how we posted? Would that change how we lived each day? In thinking of this, the word repent comes to mind.
The word repent means, “to change one’s mind”.
“The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8–14; Acts 3:19). In summarizing his ministry, Paul declares, ‘I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds’ (Acts 26:20). The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. (Got Questions, emphasis mine).” What does that look like in social media?
My very wise friend sent me an email on this subject. She wrote, “…the primary focus just has to be that we LIVE missionally, based on Biblical principles and living a life deeply devoted to prayer, Bible reading/ study and dailyness. I fall far short, but this is where I want to be. I know as a result of prayer and fasting that I’m being moved to another realm of action. I hear news differently. I think differently. I ask questions differently.” She asked me to pray that her actions would be His impulse as she serves on social media. Social Media can aid us to live a deeply devoted life and help us form new and healthy habits, but that means we have to change our actions online.
Effective social media includes three things:
- Being discerning and vulnerable in online postings.
- Posting productively.
- Not using trigger words.
Being vulnerable means to express compassion as we share something deep online. This means to use emotion in your words. People do not often connect cerebrally. They connect on an emotional level. It’s okay to have a bad day and talk about it. The key to sharing is to ask: How did God show up in this situation? This question brings balance to our posts and helps to remind our hearts that God is ever present.
Posting productively means to audit why you are chronically sharing posts. Did you research that meme? Is your post helpful to someone else? Does it invite conversation with another person online? If you are posting out of boredom, it’s time to put the phone down and spend time with your family or take a walk.
Not using trigger words is important. What triggers your friends to shut down? The list of trigger words on social media are getting longer every day. You may have something important to say, and so you should say it using different words. If you want to be heard, you must first think of hearing the other person. All three of these things are important for fostering good relationships. From there, you can then use social media in more God-honoring ways for yourself. Doing things differently online for yourself will have the happy consequence of touching other people.
Here are some creative suggestions:
- DO post your workouts or food choices online. This holds you accountable to staying in shape or asking for support from friends in your healthy eating goals.
- DO post your goals for the week. You’ll read it again as people react or comment, furthering keeping you on task.
- DO post the good things and God-moments that happened during the day. Facebook delights in reminding us of all our posts in the years to come. Why not have Facebook remind you of your better moments?
- DO post your prayer requests and post when you are sad. Allow people to come around you, hold you up in prayer, and carry you when you are too weary to take another step.
- DO consider private or public responses to another post to encourage a friend online or to offer support. You can even send a text in response to a post.
- DO post your struggles in learning about the Bible, what you are learning at Bible Study, your questions about God, or share what inspired you in your time with God that day. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Will you allow your friends online to disciple you just as you disciple them?
- DO ask questions if you meet someone online from a different culture. What is God doing in their lives in their country? What is different about their culture? Be a learner.
- DO use social media to create new habits.
- DO set boundaries.
And finally, pray that God will help you follow His impulses when posting online. Let’s “…LIVE missionally, based on Biblical principles and…a life deeply devoted to prayer, Bible reading/ study and dailyness.” Let’s work to show this online so others will be equally as inspired to follow the Lord where He leads them.