Social Media: When to Share and When to Save

March 30, 2020

 

In the age of social media, it is so easy to share things with your friends, family, and followers when things are going well in your life.  

 

Someone gets engaged?  Everyone knows about it in a matter of minutes and the likes just continuously roll in.  Pregnant? Just post the baby announcement on Facebook and your moms friends will make sure everyone knows.

 

But what about those more sensitive issues, when you want support without necessarily wanting everyone to know what’s going on in your personal life?  This is something that I’ve given a lot of thought to in the last few years, and decided it was time that I shared my thoughts on the matter-- no pun intended.

 

Basically I’ve broken it down into three separate levels of sharing, which is a model I’ve adopted in my personal life in order to maintain some work/life balance.  While it is by no means perfect, it is what has proven to work for me.

 

Level 1: Personal Tidbits 

 

These are things like ‘look at how cute my dogs are, go check out this new restaurant, or see what we’re up to in the office today!”

 

All fun, authentic moments that we can share in semi-real time, to pull back the curtain a bit as far as what ‘a day in the life’ looks like.  Fairly harmless, and helps create a level of trust and understanding with say, people who just follow along with our business page but maybe don’t know me personally.

 

Level 2: Real Talk

 

The Real Talk threshold is definitely a step above Level 1.  It’s typically going to be something that I have been contemplating and organizing my thoughts on for a while, and am finally able to articulate how I’m feeling on the matter.  

 

Typically this is something like a passing comment that rubbed me the wrong way, a social issue that has been argued from both sides, or an instance when someone takes advantage of the kindness of a member of our team and treats them unfairly.  These can be most easily described as my ‘mama bear moments’.  

 

My feathers have been ruffled, but I have tried to collect my thoughts and ensure that I’ve worked through both sides of the argument, and in most cases prayed about it, before sharing my thoughts on the matter.

 

Level 3: BCD

 

When I was working in Residence Life, we did an exercise called Behind Closed Doors.  It was essentially an opportunity to put Resident Assistants in precarious situations that were difficult and emotional, to see how they would support the student, and get them the help that they needed.  An example of this would be a student dealing with sexual assault, a death in the family, clinical depression, etc.   

 

These situations are obviously ones that should be handled with great care.  But what do you do when you are in one of those situations and you want to reach out to your circle, without feeling like everyone is watching and judging you?

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have the catch all answer for this.  What I can tell you I have done in the past, is asked for prayers from my greater circle at the forefront, and then pulled back the curtain a bit at a time as I felt more comfortable sharing.  

 

What I have learned is that even in the moments when you don’t feel able to tell those around you exactly what you’re going through-- you can always ask for prayers.  I was going through a separation for over a year before I ever shared it on social media. I battled eating disorders for nearly 5 years in high school and college, but it was nearly five years later when I shared about it publicly.

 

My point is this-- you don’t always know the storms that others are walking through, but chances are good that if you have an inclination to pray for them, you should probably act on that.  You never know until you’re in a storm how much the support of others can be helpful, and you can never be certain if the storms you’re in currently will become the platforms you use to help others later.  

 

I like to look at these three levels as if they were varying hurricane categories.  You may be in the midst of a storm right now that is a level 3 and it feels as though you can never share it with the world-- and that is completely okay.  

 

Because one day, that storm will lessen to a level 2 or maybe even a level 1, and that won’t be your day to day struggle anymore.  At that time, you can choose whether to use the storms that shaped you as a message to help others. Maybe you do that on a social media platform, or maybe it’s just in a 1:1 conversation with someone going through a similar season.  

 

However you choose to utilize your social media platform, I hope that you are able to take a step back from it at times and not let it control your life.  When you think of it as a platform-- to make people laugh, smile or contemplate something at a deeper level, I feel like you’re able to cheat the system a bit, and use something frivolous and fun for something impactful and authentic. 

 

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