Facebook, Toilets, and A Looseness of Words

If you go to your Facebook account right now I guarantee you will find the following in your News Feed:

  • A picture of someone posing awkwardly in front of a bathroom mirror
  • A picture of a cat sleeping peacefully next to an animal that would normally rip it apart and eat the remains
  • A plea to support a random cause: Click “like” if you love Jesus. Keep scrolling if you hate his guts.
  • The sleazy thumbnail to a Social Cam video that one of your friends thought they were watching in secret (Yikes.)
  • 300 comments about the weather, regardless of the temperature.
  • And finally, posts that shouldn’t even be written in a diary with a built-in lock, and posts filled with nothing but complaints about other people, relationships, work, or life in general.

The last one seems to be the most prevalent. What is it about the internet that emboldens people to type things they would never say out loud? I suppose it’s easier to vent online because it eliminates the tension of a face-to-face exchange or the sting of a judgmental gaze. Unfortunately, posted words last a lot longer. If I complain into the wind, my words eventually fade into distant echoes, but when I file a complaint with my FB friends, it hangs out in my timeline like an ex-girlfriend that just won’t let go.

And then there are those who complain about Facebook on Facebook. Huh? That’s like complaining about McDonald’s while in line for a Big Mac. This place sucks! Make that a large fry, and I’ll have a Diet Coke.

We need social media etiquette slogans like, Tweet responsibly, or You are what you Tweet. Everybody has a bad day, and there is nothing wrong with venting to friends, but some issues are better handled in small groups, not written on the wall for hundreds to read. And not everything that comes to mind should be typed into a smart phone.

In fact, in this way, technology has made it easier for people to make fools of themselves. We post thoughts seconds after they enter our minds, without taking time to contemplate how they might impact others. God knows how many people I have offended. Think twice, post once is a good rule of thumb.

John Calvin, notable theologian from the 1500’s, is known for this statement:

I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.

Not a good mental image, but painfully relevant. I can’t think of a better way to summarize the problem. Can you? When we let our tongues fly, we tend to tear people down, criticize what we don’t understand, and share our feelings unfiltered. It’s even worse when we can hide behind a screen. Despite what some say, “I’m keepin’ it real,” is often just code for “I’m being a jerk.”

The upside to social media is that you can see your words before anyone else gets the chance, or the misfortune. Often, the “delete” button is your best friend. Imagine a timeline filled with thoughtful, positive statuses. Hard to picture, right? Sharing is caring, but some things are better left unsaid.

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3 responses to “Facebook, Toilets, and A Looseness of Words”

  1. aprildchris says :

    Well said, I hope more people will read and take heed!

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