Your best friend ignored you all day. Your latest crush sent you flowers. You got a terrible grade on your math test. You and your best friend just took some really cute selfies. What’s the first thing you probably have the urge to do? Share it all through social media.
Social media outlets like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter make it incredibly easy to broadcast to the world (or at least our corner of it) exactly what’s happening to us in real time. But as a Christian, how much should we show and tell? What’s better off left unsaid?
Before you post your next selfie or send your next sentence, remember the word HEAL. What does that mean? It means exactly this: ask yourself before you share if your post or pic is Helpful, Encouraging, Affirming or Loving.
1. Is it Helpful? You found a great joke and want to pass it on, but you have to admit it’s not exactly clean. Your math teacher is the worst and you’d like to vent about her online. Or maybe you want to promote a crowdfunding site to help raise money for a family trying to adopt. Before you post, ask yourself if what you’re about to share is helpful.
Is it helpful to your reputation, or are you about to share a little too much? Would it be helpful to a fellow Christian, or could it be helpful to someone who doesn’t know Christ? Proverbs 15:4 says, “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.” Put your online influence to work in a way that would help anyone who sees your posts (including you!) want to be better, do better and feel better.
2. Is it Encouraging? Are you about to post something that might hurt someone’s feelings? Are you putting words out there that cut anyone down, including yourself? Stop before you post and look at your photos with a critical eye. Would your friend in the picture be embarrassed? Are the clothes you are wearing too revealing? Are you about to gossip about someone else?
Make sure your motive for sharing is to encourage yourself or someone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”
3. Is it Affirming? To affirm something means to state something positively, maintain it as true and to uphold and support (according to Dictionary.com). Who are you affirming—upholding and supporting—in your social media outlets?
Are you affirming your love for Christ? How many of your posts and photos support other Christians or Christian ministries? Be bold enough to post your favorite Bible verses, uplifting quotes, and positive thoughts and prayers of your own. “Like” pages that show what you believe. Your texts, pins, posts and pics can take a stand and show off your love for Jesus. 1 Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” There are certainly tons of witnesses on social media every day. You are joining in the “good fight” when you use social media to support your faith.
4. Is it Loving? If you’re super mad at your parents and immediately get online and tell your friends on Facebook or Instachat what jerks they are, are you demonstrating love? On the other hand, if your mom made a special lunch for you today or you had a great heart-to-heart with her last night, a kind text, heartwarming quote or a quick post on her page can show her how much you care. Next time you’re about to go to your favorite social media sites, aim to be loving to all. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves you all the time, and a brother helps in time of trouble.”
The Internet can be a great place to give and receive kind words, pretty pictures and uplifting messages. But when your negative thoughts and feelings fight hard to spill out online, remember that a little sharing goes a long way. As Proverbs 10:19 says, “Don’t talk [or post] so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow!”
PI Girls, what do you think about this list? Do you ask yourself any of these questions before posting to social media? Will you now?