5 Rules for Social Media Sanity
When I was in middle school and high school, the closet thing I got to “social media” was AOL Instant Messenger. I didn’t have a cell phone, even for texting, until I was 17, and I got my first smart phone at 26. I’m just saying, I was a teen only nine years ago, but the things teenagers have to deal with and navigate now are way different from what I dealt with in the very recent past. Luckily, as a twenty-something adult I am just as obsessed with social media as the average teenager, so I’ve had time to navigate the cool new apps and social media sites over the past few years.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and all the rest are fun, and a great way to connect with friends. But they’re also, as I experienced even back in my AIM days, kind of tricky. I remember messaging with a boy from my high school, and, because it wasn’t face-to-face and felt more hidden, having semi-inappropriate conversations that would have horrified my mother if she’d ever found out about them. These were conversations I would never have had in person. As a matter of fact, they horrified me, and I later ended up confessing it all to my youth pastor—and my youth group, while the boy I’d been talking to was in the room. Talk about mortifying. (I didn’t give his name though—although I probably should have, to my youth pastor.)
It’s easy to find yourself talking about something you wish you hadn’t—and now, there are all the added temptations of photos and videos. Seriously, it’s kind of a crazy jungle of temptation. So let me spare you the drama and the guilt that comes with inappropriate interactions by giving you my patented lists of do’s and don’ts for social media sites:
Rule #1: Do not, in any circumstance, interact with someone you don’t know. Like it or not, there are predators on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and any other new website or app that comes along. I know it’s easy to think, “This would never happen to me,” but for your own safety, don’t interact with anyone who you don’t know in real life.
Predators and creepers look for ways to find out your personal information, and I want to keep each of you just a little bit safer by saying, don’t give them anything. Instead, block anyone you don’t know on any social media platform. Even Twitter. And Instagram. Seriously, you don’t need to be showing a bunch of randoms what you’re wearing to school today. You just don’t. God has put you where he’s put you, with the people who surround you each day. Live your life with them and enjoy the fact that maybe sometimes the world feels a little bit small. Trust me, that feeling goes away eventually, and then you will miss it.
Rule #2: Do not, EVER, post a picture of yourself wearing (or not wearing) anything you wouldn’t wear in public. I know this sounds harsh and unnecessary, but you’ve got to be careful what kinds of images of yourself you’re sharing with the world. Especially those “hold the camera up super high and make a duck-face in a low cut t-shirt” pictures—girls, you don’t want someone looking down your shirt, do you? Don’t offer that view. And boys? Put on a shirt before you snap that pic.