Everything I’m about to share I’ve struggled with at some
point or another. Ah, now that that’s out there…I shall continue.
Last Monday, I addressed bringing the donkey when it comes
to living out our calling…our love in the time of social media.
Today I’m homing in on a brotherly or sisterly expression of
love. I’m tackling what caring for others online might require of us.
How do we love our online neighbors?
I highlight four elemental ways to love those we interact
with on social media sites:
Truth: As “well-connected” as I feel at times, there are
moments (lulls we’ll call them) after I’ve spent hours at the computer I come
away feeling an indescribable loneliness. While this feeling often ends up eventually
motivating me or reminding me just how in this I am, it also begs the question
why am I in this? And, who am I in this for?
I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.
I hope to reach others. I want to make a difference. I want
my life—my words to count for something.
Not alone in this, right?
We have the choice to go forward with this knowledge,
building others up, pouring into them, and offering genuine support.
Or we can complain about our soggy tacos. Or wallow in our
indescribable lonely feelings.
Every day. Every word typed. Every second we connect.
More than ever, and with the ever-increasing methods to interact
online we must decide who we are, what we represent, and what messages we intend
to put out there.
Emails sent in a rush of anger can have a lasting impact on
In the same light, an honest and needed word (challenging as
it might be) gives someone an opportunity to grow. Me like growth. Num. Num.
Written words have the potential to come across differently
than intended. Clarification is good. Integrity with word choice is good. Plain
ol’ honesty is good.
Live with Boundaries (constantly
learning on this one)
I recently saw a short video of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of
Eat, Pray, Love) I can’t get out of
my mind (thanks for the tweet, RG). In the video, Gilbert expresses how she
needs to be her own bodyguard of her time. Wow, this smacked me good. I whittle
away my time doing frivolous things. Some of that is a form of decompression
and perfectly natural. Some. But it made me think about some of the utterly
pointless conversations I have. And also about how I’m not always protecting my
time the way I’d like to be. Eye-opener.
How is this related to loving others? When we live with
healthy physical boundaries we set an example. We protect others’ time. And we
exude respect for ourselves and for others.
One of our pastors once threw out a challenging question. He
asked, “Would you invite the people you watch on your favorite shows into your
home?” Take a magnifying glass to that question and examine it this way…would
you invite those you interact heavily (or regularly) with online into your
I always feel like singing the lyrics to “Wild World” by Cat
Stevens to someone when they inform me they’re joining yet another social media
site. I sing it to myself when I sign up instead. ;)
In all the complicated tangled webs on the web, how is it we
discern who to love, when, how…? And how the heck is setting boundaries related
to loving others?
Ever feel spent? Ha! You can stop nodding now. We all have.
We are wise to be careful who we pour into and how often. I’m blessed to have
found some beautiful mutually beneficial friendships (some of those established
from initial online contact), but not all online encounters are healthy.
Whew doggie, you should have witnessed some of these
encounters when I first logged onto Facebook. The reflective soul I am, it took
months to finally be at peace with my new understanding of the word friend.
I’ve had to make some discerning, and at times, difficult decisions about those
who’ve crossed my boundaries.
Loving others online is also about being clear about what we
will and won’t tolerate.
Did you know that a lot can be gauged by what we don’t say
and how we don’t respond to that particular pot-stirrer?
Connections and expectations—I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a wild
world loving in the time of social media. As Cat sang, “Just remember there’s a
lot of bad…and beware.”
All this said, I crave to become even more encouraging while
online. I want to become less. That’s what love is. It’s not about puffing up
or trying to look like more—trying to be more. It’s about being more for
And I want to be more for you.
Which of the above ways of loving your online neighbor is
most difficult for you? Why do you think?
**Fun post planned for Wed. (with a giveaway involved)