The changes are profound. Whether I like it or not, people are using social media to make personal anouncements and plan meetings. They are marketing their businesses and themselves. They are expressing their griefs and trumpeting their happiest moments. And much of it is happening in real time. Right now.
In my previous post, I voiced my position that social media is simply an alternative form of communication and a way of doing relationships. I also shared some “don’ts” for interacting with others on Facebook. In this piece, let me offer some more rough notes describing the “dos” of digital interactions with real people: six social skills that promote relationships through Facebook.
- Read widely – what others are doing and saying (many different friends).
- Read in-depth (previous posts on a friend’s wall) – I am calling it “social browsing.”
- Gain the Other Perspective
- Empathy – Exercise compassion and awareness of the other person
- Harder to do online – clearly, easier to do in person.
- Identify and Meet Needs
- Ask sensitive/personal questions privately via a message vs. posting on the wall
- Commit to pray (and really do it), then follow-up with a call or visit.
- Give Affirmation
- “like” = a form of affirmation, agreement, or praise.
- People need encouragement more than they need your correction.
- Don’t give your opinions and answers if someone isn’t asking for them.
- Filter Yourself
- Read before you post – gauge your words and change them as needed.
- “In my opinion” or “have you considered” is better than an absolute statement.
- Let Friends “In” to Your World
- Share your passion.
- Trust is cultivated through intimacy – people feel like they know you through your posts.
- Your posts can trigger a ministry or work-related interaction.
For example… you can post:
What I am doing or who I am with.
- Something I am thinking or learning.
- Quotes, trivia, or facts.
- Humorous events or observations.
- How your work is making a difference.
- Promoting a work-related message or resource.
Social media is here to stay. Get involved. Learn. Listen. Share. But above all, honor Him in your relationships whether online or offline.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Express Yourself without Regard for Other Views
- Bully pulpit.
- Political or theological diatribes.
- Inappropriate comments (esp. about the boss).
- Bad language.
- 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).
- 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.
- Reacting Instead of Reflecting
- Don’t write the first thing that comes to mind.
- Emotional responses will almost always get you in trouble.
- 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.