On Using Social Media (Part 1): 7 Ways to Damage Relationships through Facebook

My original title for this blog was:iStock_000021915163XSmall

using facebook to do relationships, tell your story, promote your passion–and to do it without being obnoxious and without falling into narcissism… or getting fired…
or something like that. :-)

But I decided that was a little long. Plus, Facebook is not the only channel in the social media world… but I use it most. I also use Twitter. I opened a Pinterest account about a year ago, but I didn’t “get” it. I tried Instagram… once. So, if my remarks seem to favor Facebook users, I would suggest that the principles apply to most social media.

Social media is here to stay, although it will morph and change every 1-2 years. Facebook and Twitter will likely give way to something else… in fact, it probably has and I just don’t know it yet! But the idea of doing relationships through technology — well, that is not going to go away.

You have always had different kinds of friends: best friends, school friends, hobby friends, work friends, church friends, new friends, and secular, irreligious friends. How do you interact with them now? Social media gives you the opportunity to “touch” more people, more often, and in many more ways. The interaction does not have to be less meaningful or less personal… that depends on you.

Social media should reflect who you are and what is important to you. It can be a narcissistic pursuit. It can be a way of dishonestly representing yourself to others. It can be a way of being “mean” (thank you Taylor Swift). If that’s how you are in real life, it will show up in social media. You can’t hide what’s in your heart.

But it can also be a way of doing ministry. Social media can be a vehicle for expressing genuine care and concern — it is not “less” because it is a digital note instead of a handwritten note (I still do both). I find ample opportunities to discuss matters of faith. I love Jesus… I am a Christ follower. By being online and available, some friends feel “safe” and, consequently, they are more willing to discuss spiritual things and pose long-held questions about faith.

Okay… enough of my philosophical musings. In this post, I want to share some rough, incomplete notes on the “don’ts” of social media. In the next piece, I’ll share some “dos.” So, here you go: seven ways to damage relationships through Facebook.

  1. Ignore Normal Social Boundaries
    • TMI – too much information about your personal life (boundaries are healthy).
    • Personal travel announcements (also known as an invitation to a burglary).
    • Politeness and consideration still count.
  2. Become an Annoying Advocate
    • Posting for Amway or some other pyramid scheme.
    • Playing games at work or bugging friends with unwanted game posts (e.g., mafia farm etc.).
    • Do you have an Aunt who posts 14 pictures of Jesus every day? Don’t do that!
    • Post too many updates (and no one is commenting or “liking”). No one.
  3. Express Yourself without Regard for Other Views
    • Bully pulpit.
    • Political or theological diatribes.
    • Inappropriate comments (esp. about the boss).
    • Bad language.
  4. Comment on Everything
    • It is not necessary to register your thoughts on every post. Seriously.
    • Be obnoxious (it can get you “de-friended” or reported).
  5. Ignore Context
    • Seek first to understand before you write anything in response.
    • Making a point in print is not the same as saying it in person – partial information (no facial expressions, no context, no sound/inflection etc) requires better written communication.
    • Words are delivered without a context – social media requires you to create a context and to understand the context/conversation you are entering into.
  6. Reacting Instead of Reflecting
    • Don’t write the first thing that comes to mind.
    • Emotional responses will almost always get you in trouble.
  7. Use Unguarded or Crude Humor
    • Children get away with saying things that adults cannot.
    • Children can be cute – you cannot.
    • When people read your words, they are reaching conclusions about who you are.

Next post: On Using Social Media (Part 2): 6 Essential Facebook Social Skills that Promote Relationships.

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