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How to Use Social Media and NOT Make Your Kids Want to Kill You

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Last week I was humbled. Yes, humbled. My youth leadership team was presenting at our weekly youth night. The topic they chose to cover was social media, which is great because, though I am far from a social media pariah, they are still more connected in that world than I am. Their talk covered the usual suspects; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yik Yak, Kik, etc.

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Kevin MySpacey has always been my favorite actor.

They began in an inauspicious manner – discussing modesty, cussing, cyber bullying, privacy, you know, all the general social media talking points. Then they got specific, and this is where my life drastically changed. They said “We’ll start with Facebook just so we can get it out of the way. I mean we used to use it in like, middle school, but with all the old people on it, who even uses it anymore.” I laughed at this quip. Then my face fell as I realized she was being completely serious. Old people. Old people. OLD PEOPLE?! I love Facebook. I use it all the time; to catch up with friends, to post pictures, to brag about my fiancée. I’m not old, I’m in the prime of my life and yet I’ve already been passed by in this social media whirlwind. I jumped off the Myspace bandwagon just in time – but I’m holding tight to my Facebook. This is the deal, my fellow “old people,” the kids have left, not because facebook is uncool, but because WE are, and WE have successfully saturated the platform with our uncoolness. But seriously, none of us have time to find the hip, new, cool social media thing. The only choice we have is to make facebook cool again.

Obviously you aren’t part of the problem, which I’m really only saying because I want you to buy a Biblezon tablet and don’t want to scare you off. However, I’m sure you can identify people who are the problem, and that’s where I need your help. Share this with your technologically impaired friends and little by little we will rid the WWW from the uncoolness that make our kids fly from us like hobbits from an orc army.

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Suprisingly, my selfies look a lot like that

Social media is great. It really is. It’s useful in a variety of ways – keeping in touch with loved ones, seeing funny kitten videos, becoming a FarmVille champion. It can also be used as an evangelization tool, if used correctly. That’s key though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled across awful, mean posts by upstanding Christian men and women, but we’ll get to that. Here, listed out as simply as possible, are the three social media people you do not want to be.

1. The Gamevitationer

First off, game invitations. Be careful. No one wants multiple game invitations a day. Or ever. Farmville, cookville, cookfarm, all those games are fun, I agree. However, I speak for myself here but I’m sure it resonates with some of you; I get excited when I get a notification. Message, comments, and wall posts – they’re so far and few between that a little red notification gets me all warm and fuzzy inside. Imagine the feeling of clicking on the notification button with intense anticipation, only to get another invite. It’s deflating, so be careful of what permissions you’re giving to Facebook.

2. The Creeper

Sometimes the youth forget us older people exist on Facebook. This is a good thing! Like in hunting, our best way to sneak up and participate somehow in their social lives is to not constantly announce our presence. Commenting on a picture? Great. Commenting on every picture? Annoying. Commenting things that have nothing to do with the picture or status? Unforgivable. Also, DON’T USE ALL CAPS UNLESS IT’S AN EMERGENCY, and if it is an emergency – get off Facebook!

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Also, I can’t find my email anymore! All I can find is Gmail.

3. Gullible Gary

The internet was defined by kids. It is not a professional environment. This seems to be the hardest thing for us “old people” to get. The internet is ALL about the laughs. So learn these definitions and learn them well before you log in to your next facebook session.
Sarcasm – the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
Parody – an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
Satire – the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Facebook is a melting pot of sarcasm, parody, and satire. Recognizing it takes skill and patience. Take a minute before you comment. It’s hard to even believe I have to say this, but think critically, for the love of all that is good. Figure out if the following post is satire, sarcasm, parody, or sometimes it’s just not true. If it’s from a website such as The Onion or any other vegetable, it is NOT true. Sharing and commenting on satiric articles is a sure way to provoke eye rolls and unfollows.

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Hey, I have a bridge to sell you. An intergalactic bridge

4. Jerry the Jerk

Everything you do on Facebook is broadcasted to your friends. This is the most important part of this article, so please put those glasses on. Everything you do on Facebook is public. If you listen to an embarrassing song on your Spotify, it’s going on Facebook. If you comment on an article someone shared, your friends can see it. This was my actual reason for writing this blog. It’s funny to comment on the state of Facebook, but there are real problems with social media and the “advanced” (read: older) generation. All too often opinions that would normally stay within the confines of the home or workplace are broadcast all over the world. Today, a good Christian woman I know posted a comment on an incendiary article about the Baltimore riots. It was not full of charity. It was not loving. Jesus would have never said what she said, but cloaked by the supposed anonymity of the internet it suddenly becomes okay. I’ve seen way too many of my friends posting comments and articles that lack charity, make broad sweeping generalizations, and paint Christians in a negative light. I’ve admittedly done the same thing. I try so hard to defend the Church sometimes that I forget the Church doesn’t need to be defended on social media. Remember? The gates of Hell will not prevail so I’m pretty sure a nasty article or two won’t slip by either. What people need from us as Christians on Facebook is not ardent defense of our faith, but positive examples of our faith. People are hungry for Jesus and hungry for love, not hungry for being corrected.

To win hearts for the Church we must be examples of love. The youth understand this; they’ve grown up in a culture of acceptance and learned how to accept without compromising their beliefs. Every time they see a negative post by a parent, aunt, mentor, pastor, or grandparent it’s another dagger in their heart and more distrust of the important adults in their lives. No matter what you post on Facebook your kids won’t actually kill you, but unless we shape up, we may kill their respect. Lets make the WWW a more loving, accepting, humorous place my friends.

 

chrisChris Johnson is a ministry leader at CCFM Collaborative Catholic Formation Ministries in Dallas. He is a proud graduate of Texas A & M and currently lives in Bryan Texas.

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