At church, my pastor, David Chadwick, was giving his awesome sermon and he was talking about “following Jesus”. Leave it to me, being so actively involved in the social media world, to think to myself, If Jesus were on social media or had a blog and he showed up in my newsfeed, what would that be like? I’m pretty sure this is not what David meant when he said “follow” Jesus, but it really got me thinking.
I began to think about the people I “follow” on social media and what impact they might have on my daily life and I also thought of what I might look like to those who “follow” me; what image do I portray and does it align with the message I’m trying to send? I think defining yourself in the social media world can be quite difficult because you have such a limited amount of space, characters, pictures, etc. to represent YOU. You have to scrunch your entire message into one photo, a few hashtags, or a status update and there isn’t a whole lot of room to explain what you mean or talk about what you really think. And even if you did, would others accept you? We all have a voice (some voices are “louder” than others) and we all deserve a fair chance to be heard. It’s how you choose to use that voice that can really define your character.
We all have a voice (some voices are “louder” than others) and we all deserve a fair chance to be heard. It’s how you choose to use that voice that can really define your character.
So think about it. If you’re negative, constantly ranting, bitching, and complaining online, what do you think people think of you? You may be funny, but is your sarcasm aimed at someone else’s expense? I think you see where I’m going with this, right? Is that the image you want people to see? Are you negative because you’re behind a computer and don’t have to face the repercussions of being rude or disrespectful? Or do you put up a wall because you’re insecure or lonely and desperately want someone to pay attention to SOMETHING you thought or wrote, even if it’s negative? Or are you someone who is filled with positivity, strength, and happiness? Do people smile when they see what you’ve posted or shared online? Are you displaying how loving and caring you are towards your family and friends? Is the REAL you shining through your posts? When you start to think about how other people might perceive you (like it or not, people are judging you by what you do, say, AND post) it can be a little scary. But it can also be quite interesting because YOU ARE A BRAND and people are judging your personal brand based on what you’re showing them and telling them.
I’ve always been very selective in who I follow or what I “like” on social media – if I don’t actually “like” it, I’m not going to pretend I do or “pity like” something – I hate that! I try to be as genuine as I can be, I want my “virtual” self to match my “authentic self” or “personal brand”. I don’t photoshop (I do occasionally use an Instagram filter), I don’t say things I don’t mean, I don’t post things that aren’t true, or have ulterior motives. I don’t tell my friends one thing and post something completely different because I have nothing to hide, and seriously, to those who do this, who are you trying to kid? Because of my selectivity, I follow many incredible, amazing people online and I actually get inspired and happy as I’m scrolling through photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook – I feel connected to these like-minded people and I love it. But, have you ever wanted to “unfollow” someone (and I actually do this quite often) because you’re sick of their annoying posts or messages? Yes! And sometimes I just laugh at the silly things they say about themselves, their hashtags, and their COUNTLESS selfies (and keep them in my feed strictly for entertainment purposes), but if I’m sick of their “brand” or I’m tired of them bringing me down – I get rid of them or click “unfollow” – I don’t need their crap in my universe!
I try to be as genuine as I can be, I want my “virtual” self to match my “authentic self” or “personal brand”. I don’t photoshop (I do occasionally use an Instagram filter), I don’t say things I don’t mean, I don’t post things that aren’t true, or have ulterior motives. I don’t tell my friends one thing and post something completely different because I have nothing to hide, and seriously, to those who do this, who are you trying to kid?
This brings me back to the “follow Jesus” idea. I was thinking about what Jesus (or whichever higher power you believe in) would post as a “status”, or even a WIRL, if He could and how positive and awesome His messages would probably be. It would be amazing to “follow” along as He touched lives and taught lessons in such a positive, loving, incredible way. Having His updates show up on my phone or computer would probably make me want to be a better person and it would help me to see his “good” more often than just on Sundays. Wow, just the thought seems cool, right? Then I thought, if I had the privilege to follow THE MAN himself, I’d want to keep my newsfeed clean, so not to “contaminate” or “dilute” His powerful messages, photos, and posts so they could have a greater, stronger impact on my life. So I would probably start to do some “weeding” of those who I follow – I’d get rid of anyone who doesn’t share the same message (notice I said “message” and not “beliefs”) as me (or Him), almost like a “social media cleanse” if you will, to get rid of the bad and start anew.
Now, imagine this. You’ve cleansed yourself of the heavy weight of those who bring you down, you’ve shed the burden of the negativity, rants, and hate that appears on your usual social media feed and you’re only surrounded by those who share the same love, support, and inspiration for life and helping others as you do – wouldn’t that be awesome? Surrounding yourself with positive energy could really change your life – “follow” the good energy, toss away the bad. I mean, I’ve always been taught to “follow God”, but until I thought of it this way, it never really “hit home” for me. Call me crazy, stupid, or wacko, but sometimes you just have those “Ah-ha” moments where everything just falls into place. This was one of those moments for me.
I mean, my whole life I’ve been taught to “follow God”, but until I thought of it this way, it never really “hit home” for me. Call me crazy, stupid, or wacko, but sometimes you just have those “Ah-ha” moments where everything just falls into place. This was one of those moments for me.
So, this isn’t really about religion here, but it can be if that’s how you want to interpret it. What I’m saying is that if we look at the 21st century version of “following Jesus” and what that might actually mean if it were possible, it might mean that you would have “insider access” into the life of an incredible role model. We all have people we admire and we “follow” them online to peek into their lives and stay in the know. What we see on social media affects us, that’s why it’s such a powerful tool these days – it can make us happy, sad, jealous, frustrated, and even angry. Doesn’t it make sense to only surround yourself with people who build you up? “A rising tide lifts all boats”, right?
What I took away from those two words at church last week was probably quite different than the intended message, but maybe not. I’m going to start shedding the negativity in my life by ridding of those who put it smack in front of my face everyday and I’m going to start following more people who I look up to. Truthfully, I think we should all do this and it’s so easy to do if you’re willing to make the change. So, if I “unfollow”, “unfriend”, or “unlike” you or something of yours – now you know why. You can chose to get mad or maybe you can chose to think twice about the messages you’re sending on social media. I challenge you to take a look at the life you’re portraying and ask yourself if it’s authentic. If it’s not, you might have some explaining to do, but don’t worry, I know just the platform to get you started!
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YES! My kiddos are slowly entering the world of social media (gulp!) and we talk about this a lot! Choose your words and what you put into the world carefully.
There is so much truth here. I love how spot on you nailed the negativity in your feed. I am having difficulty balancing in my head the need to unfollow negative posters with the desire to support people whom I’ve built connections with.
Wow! I have been wrestling with these thoughts all day today. Have sat down to write them out and there are so many knots and snarls, I couldn’t be coherent. My heart has been so heavy. I struggle every day with getting up, I want to turn the clock back and have my son with me. I find that I am hyper-sensitive to the negativity in the world and know I have to not allow that darkness in my life. I have to keep surviving, I dare myself to thrive through my grief. Thank you for your loving and articulate words, you are very wise. You are one of those bright lights that I have recently met and I am so grateful. Wishing you a very peace filled week.
Terri – I so appreciate your kind words and I am honored that you found these thoughts to be helpful. Grief is one of the toughest emotions because most of the time the situation that brings it on is out of your control. I know you are a strong woman and will find a way to navigate through these tough times. Stay positive, surround yourself with like-minded people, and trust your heart.