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 the recipient.
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. 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 home?
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 others.
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?
*Check out the second to last All “I”s on _______ on my FBwriter page today!
**Fun post planned for Wed. (with a giveaway involved)