You can tell a lot about a person by… How would you finish this statement? Our true selves are exposed by our dress, body language, and how we treat others, among other things. We expose even more of our true identity by our words, or in the world of social media, by our posts.
People post about their hobbies, values, and passions. If you want to get to know someone, scroll through their online persona and notice their most frequent comments and shared content. The emerging common threads speak volumes.
We can’t control what others say if we allow true freedom of speech. But we can control what we approve, like, and share. There will always be a need to share ideas and debate issues, but imagine how different it would be if all of the exchange – including opposing views – were expressed decently, respectfully, and intelligently.
Perhaps the content we communicate has been borrowed from the news media. Much of the information we are fed deals with extreme problems. Ratings seem to get boosted when the reports cover threats to: our way of life, our government, our education, our health, our money, and our families.
Then, as if to lighten the blow, before the broadcast ends, there are one or two feel-good stories to mentally wash our mind of the gore and the carnage we have just ingested. A question emerges: has the media fed us a select diet of information which they have predetermined? Or, have we collectively selected what we get to hear?
A former Facebook employee recently testified before Congress and asked that social media services be held accountable for how information is shared on their platforms. She has said, “When you have a system that you know can be hacked with anger, it’s easier to provoke people into anger. And publishers are saying, ‘Oh, if I do more angry, polarizing, divisive content, I get more money.’ Facebook has set up a system of incentives that is pulling people apart.”
So again the question, does social media force-feed us a prescribed diet? Or is society conditioned, like Pavlov’s dogs, drooling for angry and divisive content?
Instead of casting the blame on those who feed us negativity, let’s own this! We are too easily enticed to information which is false, indecent, impure, ugly, repulsive, and disgusting.
One of my favorite texts constantly challenges me. Paul wrote these inspired words from prison,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
If we start here in our thinking, it will change our taste to long for a better diet of information, which will result in a change in our words and actions.
As the song lyric warns,
O be careful little eyes what you see…
O be careful little ears what you hear…
O be careful little tongues what you say…
O be careful little hands what you do…
Maybe we could add the verse, O be careful little minds what you think…