I’m kidding about that… though there’s been good discussion this month about potential mine fields in the gratitude challenge. One person’s gratitude is another person’s “bragbooking.” Here are my 5 tips for making the most of the gratitude challenge. Yes, November is almost over—yikes, by the way—but these tips are broadly useful for social media interactions in general.
We’re all learning how to communicate in these new forms of media. And I’m a big believer in cultivating hospitality online. That said, each of us is responsible for our own reactions to what we read and experience on the Internet.
This was driven home recently, as I found myself bristling at the gratitude posts filling my Facebook newsfeed. Colleagues were grateful for an influx of children in their churches, or for a beautiful musical offering in worship that morning. Others were celebrating the quirky gifts of their children. With each update I began to feel worse and worse, even though emotionally I’d been feeling generally grateful for several things in my own life.
What made the difference? Why was I suddenly so bothered by these posts? Were my friends becoming more obnoxious? I don’t think so. The gratitude posts have not changed much over the course of the month (though maybe they’re getting less frequent as people peter out). No, my friends were no more obnoxious than they ever are. (Kidding again.)
The main thing difference was that I hadn’t taken my tech sabbath that weekend.
I normally take a two-day break from Facebook, Twitter and other networks, and that weekend I didn’t, for a variety of good and bad reasons. So in addition to being worn out after a full weekend and a big day of worship duties, I’d been dipping in and out of the social media river nonstop. By Sunday I was DONE, and I finally realized why: I had not given myself the break from it that I have come to need in order to enjoy the rest of my time online.
In an ideal world, if we’re going to use social media, it should be a source of joy rather than consternation. But there are times when the latter reigns. Often the reason is obvious and understandable: a bevy of baby announcements when we’re dealing with infertility, or gushes over a wonderful spouse when our own marriage is in trouble. The hardest ones for me are the Dad posts, since mine died way too young.
But other times, the reason is more subtle. If you’re feeling a vague sense of dissatisfaction and can’t pinpoint the cause, consider whether you’re simply overloaded—whether your social media use could use some better boundaries around it.
And that one friend who pushes all your buttons? It’s really OK to hide her posts. I won’t tell.