via: Relevant Magazine – Cara Joyner
I was a freshman in college when Facebook came out and I distinctly remember thinking, “why would I need this? I have AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace!”
Well, times have changed. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (and a slew of other sites I’m not cool enough to know about) have simultaneously brought us closer together and driven us further apart. With the exception of a few universally offensive statements or pictures, it’s a rule-free zone where we can interact with society while accepting minimal personal responsibility for the implications of what we do.
In absence of guidelines for healthy and polite social media etiquette, we are left to determine our own boundaries for navigating the seemingly endless opportunities available to us.
Before we snap one more picture of our hot chocolate topped with a foam leaf, perhaps we would benefit from a brief pause—an extra 30 seconds to ask five simple questions might suggest it’s time to unplug, or at least reconsider when and how we use social media:
1. Am I seeking approval?
If you’ve taken an introductory psychology class, you’ve probably heard of B.F. Skinner and operant conditioning. Skinner suggested that we learn behaviors through reinforcement.
When I seek validation through something I post and that little red flag starts popping up to notify me of each person giving me attention, it’s an addictive reward. And it works. I feel better, so I keep coming back for more. The next time I need to feel approval, I’ll return to the source that poured it out last time, and the cycle of reinforcement continues.
What are the bigger needs asking to be met here? Maybe it’s a desire for community. Perhaps it stems from unresolved conflict with someone I love. Or maybe I just thrive on pleasing people and hearing their praise. If your interaction with the internet is driven by a need for approval, consider healthier ways to address this issue and choose to stop reinforcing the unhealthy ones.
2. Am I boasting?
There’s sharing excitement and then there’s bragging. Truthfully, we each know which camp we fall in.
When the Apostle Paul described what it meant to love others, he specifically mentioned that love does not boast. That post isn’t “just a picture” or “just a tweet,” it’s an opportunity to love others in a way that reflects Jesus. Or it’s an opportunity to show them something quite different, something that looks nothing like Christ.
Examine your motivations and walk away before using social media as the adult version of show-and-tell.
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