"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Monday, April 27, 2015

I've Been Doing Social Media Wrong - Part 2: The Solution

If you haven't read "I've Been Doing Social Media Wrong Part 1: The Problem," you probably should before you read this.

Something I'm learning as I grow older, more mature, and (hopefully) wiser is that we human beings do things best when we do them with a strong sense of purpose and intention. As a parent, I realize that everything I do is now an example to my children. That literally means everything - from blowing my nose, to the language I use, to how I discipline them - is going to impact them. Doing things intentionally takes on a profound meaning. This idea of "purpose and intention" is especially true in the spiritual life.

One of my favorite prayers is the Prayer Before Communion of St. Thomas Aquinas, and in particular this one sentence: "May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul's salvation." 

So, when I say I've been doing social media wrong, what I really mean is that I have not been intentional enough when using it.

I'm going to change that.

My goal is to become more intentional in the way I use each of the social media platforms, the content I share, and how I interact with other people. If you've been paying attention to my posts over the past few months, you may have noticed this trend already. If not, here's a breakdown of what I plan to do:

Facebook

Facebook was created to be a place to share your life experiences with your friends - not just your political opinions. So, rather than posting every single anti-Hillary article I read, I'm going to make a concerted effort to instead share photos, anecdotes, and things that directly impact my life or those around me. This might include an invitation to an events, posing questions, or soliciting advice. Rather than get into long, protracted arguments in the comments on a shared article, I'm going to tell people we should talk about this subject in person next time we're together. Or, better yet, that we should make time in the near future to talk about this subject over a good lager.

Twitter

Ah, twitter. Those 140 characters can let us say so much, yet so little. I hated twitter when it first came around, but in the years since my feelings have evolved towards this medium to the point that I use it and appreciate it, but I still maintain a love/hate relationship with it.

That being said, you want to know what I think about something, or see what sorts of articles I'm sharing, go look at my twitter feed. That's where my more opinionated stream of consciousness will be lingering. Yet, as with my facebook strategy, I will also encourage those who wish to strike up an argument to meet me in the parking lot... of the local imbibing establishment.

Instagram


What will I be sharing on Instagram? Hmmm... I'm thinking pictures. Of my family. Of food. Of church(es). Pictures of random things I find interesting. Not too many postings though (I don't want to be "that guy"), but enough to keep it updated and fresh. Just like facebook will show my more "personal" side, so too will my instagram. What I won't be posting are pre-, post-, or during workout pictures of me. No #gymselfies. Sorry. And no half-naked, "look at my body and tell me how awesome I am because I have self-confidence issues" pictures. Plenty of people abuse Instagram - it's basically a narcissist's dream - but I'm not going to be one of them.

Blogging

This is, or will be, the real meat and potatoes of who I am. Just one or two steps removed from that face-to-face conversation over a finely brewed, frosty cold beverage, I want to make my blog the place where I can come to think things through, share my opinions, express concerns, let go of cares, and embrace struggles. Sound too sappy? Probably. But I think you get the picture. Facebook is just not the right medium to express everything I need to express. Neither is twitter. And instagram is even more limited. Blogs are a blank slate ready to be filled with a bared soul. You might be saying blogs are dead, after all, this isn't 2004. I would disagree. Terms, appearances, and even mediums will change, but as long as the internet is around, blogs will be around in some form.


If you read Part One, and you're still reading, chances are you probably think I'm over-thinking this whole social media thing. You might be right. But I firmly believe in what I said in part one: social media is too rote, too ingrained, and too cheap. Maybe I am over-thinking and over-analyzing this phenomenon. Maybe my solutions fall flat. Maybe I'll give up this little "experiment" in six months.

What I do know is social media is a tool. Just like a hammer or a power saw, social media can be used or abused. However, unlike that power saw, social media doesn't come with a user's guide. It's up to us to figure out how to use it, and how to make our interactions positive rather than negative. Unfortunately, there is a lot of social media abuse out there. How can one person make a difference?

At the very least, if you've read this, maybe it's sparked an idea in you. Maybe you already do some of these things, but now you want to do more. Maybe you are already intentional about what you post, but now you want to go to another level. Social media has a very prominent role in our society right now. What we can all do is reflect on how it impacts our own lives, for better or worse. I firmly believe that the proper place for social media is as an augmentation of our real social interactions. If social media replaces our real interactions, we've lost the proper perspective.

In summary, I've been doing social media wrong by being less than intentional about using the various platforms. Going forward, I'm going to be very conscientious about what I post on which platform. By doing so I hope to make my own interpersonal communications more intentional, more personal, and hopefully more meaningful.

What do you think?

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