Relation-Tips Part 4: Social Media Distancing

In this episode:

More than ever before, digital communication is a vital means of staying connected with others. But sometimes a little social media distancing is needed to preserve relationships when opinions burn hot, passion is ignited, and misinformation is abundant. Why not reclaim digital media for positive influence!

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Inspired Life

This is the last segment in my relation-tips series, and it has to do with our virtual relationships. During phrases of quarantine, shelter at home, social distancing, and more, it has become obvious how important these relationships are, but it has also become obvious how painful they can be. During this time, I have had to unplug more than ever before and yet I needed my friends more than ever before. It can be difficult to find a peaceful spot in the middle. Here are some things I have noticed about the online world in the last three months:

  1. People will share anything if it fits their point of view.
  2. People will say anything, even if they would never say it to another person’s face.
  3. People will spiritualize a lot of opinions.
  4. Drama is alive and well.
  5. There are very real hurts out there and people need support.
  6. Digital is not the same as in person, but we sometimes expect it to be.
  7. This is an extrovert’s world. Introverts have long ago learned that if they are going to survive, they will have to bend to the introvert side of life and participate. But it doesn’t go the other way. Even for a short time, many extroverts have had a terrible time adjusting to a slower pace and fewer activities.
  8. There is still kindness alive and well if we look for it.

So what do we do with that? There is a lot of negative there. I won’t even list all of it because you have seen it and you don’t need any more negativity!

Life, Repurposed

We can repurpose even our digital communication for something that is much healthier than the norm.

  1. Social media distancing. Social media doesn’t have to be our only source of digital communication. The telephone still works! Email still works. A video chat works. It doesn’t have to be all consumed from a platform that is heated and overwhelming. I have spent many days unplugged from social media in the last few months – for the sake of my mental health.
    1. You CAN snooze someone by unfollowing for a period of time, especially when it means that you can preserve your love for that person. Distancing is sometimes needed.
    2. It is ok to hold some people at arm’s length for most interaction and still show them grace and kindness when you do need to interact.
  2. Reach out with kindness. You can distance from the negative without being absent from the interactions. Reach out in a message to someone (voice or type) to let them know you are thinking of them and you care.
  3. There is a hunger for kindness and love. We can make a difference with our words. Post images and words that inspire, rather than instill fear. Consider how your political perspective and the intensity around it might destroy your ability to inspire people. If our words and presence are like a fire that burns people when they get to close, who is going to want to get close enough to receive the kindness. It’s like throwing a cup of water on a fire. It evaporates as soon as it hits. Your kindness evaporates when it is out of balance with the fire of a passionate point of view.
  4. Self-awareness is so important:
    1. I don’t need to say every word that comes to my head.
    2. My tone is more evident to people online than I might realize. Emails and texts are HARD.
    3. Artificial kindness is also obvious to a lot of people. (Genuine love matters)
    4. We might be more gullible than we think if we only chase after news that feeds our point of view.
    5. My own opinion and how I share it might make someone else feel as if they aren’t cared for or respected.

I see social media and my profile sort of like my front porch. If I invite you to my front porch to sit down and have a conversation, I consider you a friend. We can agree to disagree. But if you start to shout at me and call me names, I will kindly invite you to step off my porch. This doesn’t mean that I have any hatred toward someone. It simply means that my front porch is a safe place and I want everyone to feel welcome. If that welcome is off balance, I have to make tough decisions about who to invite there.

On the virtual front porch, I ask that we discuss kindly, that we smile as we talk, that we pat each other on the shoulder and say we’re here for one another. We can do that virtually, too!

My goal is not to grow a circle of people who think like me and agree with me, but a circle of people who love, even with massive differences in between. I want to have a diverse circle of contacts who have a common goal: to be kind humans and to make one another better humans for knowing each other.

If you need a little social distancing, you have my permission.

But more than anything, let’s look for ways we can spur others on to love and joy, and peace. All the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentles, and self-control.

Recommended Resources

I recently finished reading Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin.

Shannan Martin had the perfect life: a cute farmhouse on six rambling acres, a loving husband, three adorable kids, money, friends, a close-knit church—a safe, happy existence.

But when the bottom dropped out through a series of shocking changes and ordinary inconveniences, the Martins followed God’s call to something radically different: a small house on the other side of the urban tracks, a shoestring income, a challenged public school, and the harshness of a county jail (where her husband is now chaplain). And yet the family’s plunge from “safety” was the best thing that could have happened to them.

Falling Free charts their pilgrimage from the self-focused wisdom of the world to the topsy-turvy life of God’s more being found in less. Martin’s practical, sweetly subversive book invites us to rethink assumptions about faith and the good life, push past insecurity and fear, and look beyond comfortable, middle-class Christianity toward a deeper, richer, and ultimately more fulfilling life.

Shannan has an unconventional approach to how she does life, and I love her fresh honesty and humor.

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(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. ) *This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.

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