Monday, March 17, 2014

pros & cons to an online community

Here are some thoughts I've been having about living in a media filled day and age.  They are in no way complete, but just a few things that I've been thinking about.

I'm probably a Facebook addict...I scope it out from time to time (daily) and have absolutely loved the opportunity to reconnect with folks from many different areas and times of my life.  From friends from elementary school, to camp and college friends, to friendships made during my junior year in England, and my family friends.  Not to mention, it's another place/space to connect with folks from my congregation.  It definitely has its perks.  You can share good news with hundreds of folks at once and share in many, many birthday greetings.

But I do have to say that maybe I'm worried that there are more cons than pros.  Or maybe there is more of a chance of cons, if we're not careful out there.

Part of living in the immediacy of this online world, we can err on the side of expecting posts or pictures from folks when we want to see them.  Does that make sense?  You know that a friend got married....and you say, when do we get to see the pictures?  Or friends just returned from a trip and you want to see all about it.  It's as if as soon as you know something has happened, you expect to see the proof.  I think it's very important for us to remember that not everyone will share information or pictures the time frame or manner we expect them to.  We need to remember that in such a public forum....the things and pictures people share will depend on exactly what they want to share and when they want to share it.  An instant world has completely challenged our patience.

I worry, too, as a pastor and a friend about people posting comments or status updates that seem to passively ask for help.  Here's the thing...if you are really hurting, really need help, or just feel's time to connect with people face to face.  Log out, and pick up the phone to find a time to get together with someone who loves you and cares about you and can listen to what is going on in your life.  Try as we might with 'comments' and texts....the face to face interaction is so much better.  (That's just one of the reasons I'm part of a community of faith....but that's another post for another time.)
Because here's the other piece to this....what if you do post that things are really crappy right now....and no one comments or reaches out to you about're probably going to feel worse.  And maybe, if I'm your pastor AND your friend on Facebook, I may miss that update...and it's not that I don't's just that I don't check all the updates from folks in my congregation every day.  (Because that would be creepy in itself.)  I'll say it again, if you're really hurting or lonely or just sad....tell someone....face-to-face....and we'll find some help together.

And, as you read updates, or see pictures....and everyone else's life looks perfect...remember this:  we can post only positive status updates, we can photoshop pictures...we can make our pages look absolutely perfect...and under the surface things may not be that don't compare your life to someones life on Facebook.

Here's the thing, too, think before you share...think about why you need to share that information or that picture...think about how that person feels about you sharing something about them....and I think it's most important to think about whether it will help or hurt.  Seems so simple, right?  But be nice out there.  We live in a world that already groans with death and pain...we don't need to add extra painful comments or a place/person/online entity that promotes positive comments and care for your 'online' friends and family.

Thanks for reading....listening....and just being out there.

Now go connect with someone face-to-face.

Until the next post +peace.


  1. Lots of true thoughts, here Jen. I have a separate blog for tougher things and try to keep facebook either funny or positive in theme. I've been told by friends that they don't think anything is ever wrong and then someone says, "did you read that blog post about her brother?" and thy feel slighted that I didn't seek them out. I don't want to bring anyone down, so I definitely get some therapy by writing it out. for me that's enough. then back to uplifting facebook. It's a funny place.

  2. I like that you have different places for sharing...a good thing. Thanks for reading.