Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your personal blogging site, people do not hesitate to comment, give advice, or offer a rebuttal to your point of view. They feel privileged to not only comment, but share with others and ask their opinions. They may even go as far as reposting your personal pictures to mock you. In most cases this is harmless, but we must be mindful of potential backfire. While you feel entitled to express yourself, others are looking at you in judgment. Potential employers use social media to form an opinion of you. They want to see if the person they interviewed matches the person in the pictures and posts. Fair or not, be very careful of the things you post. The consequences can be costly. Pictures of yourself half naked or engaging in questionable activities can be frowned upon, and you could be denied the job of your dreams, or fired from your current employment in some cases.
The social media frenzy makes you feel entitled to do what you want, whenever you want. While out to dinner, you upload your selfies and the food you ordered. While on vacation, others get to live vicariously through you by seeing you frolic on the beach or relax poolside. You even give your friends an aerial view from your window seat on the airplane. Gone are the days of having your film developed and actually waiting a few days to get your pictures, and mailing them to your friends and family to share. Many of you may laugh at the memory. The younger generations think posting their pictures to Instagram or instantly conversing with their friends on Kik (instant messenger) has always been the norm.
Things that seem like innocent and harmless fun, you share simultaneously with so many people. You find comfort in the loving words others share, the post of new births, the report cards of our children, and even share that you are going to bed! Sometimes our words don’t come across as intended and we can seem “needy.” You should not seek the acceptance of others on social media. You don’t need other people’s approval of you or your lifestyle. When you initiate others to “rate me” (a game where your followers tell you what they think of you), you open yourself up for some disparaging remarks. Some can lead you to engage in a verbal war. These social media games can be hurtful. You may not like the results, but you open yourself up to ridicule by engaging others. Not everyone on your friend’s list is your friend! “Here’s an attitude I suggest you adopt when it comes to participating in online communities. When you visit someone else’s online community, you’re a guest in the owner’s online home. Behave accordingly. Your participation is a privilege, subject to the owner’s discretion” (Steve Pavlina, Free Speech in Online Communities: The Delusion of Entitlement). In other words, govern yourself as if you were sitting face to face with them in their home.
Freedom of Speech
Thankfully in this country, you have freedom of speech and can express yourself as you see fit. However, there are different laws and restrictions when speaking publicly versus personally. Online freedom of speech often comes with restrictions that most of us are unaware of. You accept the terms and agreements of social media sites without reading them! In most cases we give up our rights and privacy. When you created a Facebook page you had to agree to have your freedom of speech monitored and restricted. Social media sites have the right to remove your accounts, pictures, and other content without notice. Just think, if they have this right, doesn’t it also mean they have access to your personal in box messages; pictures you thought were private, etc. Reread these terms, you may be surprised what you agreed to. You are able to set your privacy preferences, but how private can it be when the owners have full privileges to everything you do.
Remember, criticism and unwanted remarks from your social media posts might not be fair, but you open yourself up for scrutiny with every post. Feel free to post what you want, but be mindful that others feel entitled to respond as they see fit. Keep an open mind and use social media with caution. It can be used to boost your business and can be a valuable tool to express words of wisdom and encouragement to others.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1-5 ESV). Until next time…continued blessings.