In some cases, the growth of this list has introduced a new dynamic to my spiritual life. Some of my friends post things I never thought they would. Some of the videos and graphics and propaganda that are posted contain profane, filthy, and perverse words and images. To some people, I am sure, they are just light humor, but I, when I see them, I am authentically distressed. Sometimes it is not the wording of the graphic that is objectionable, but even the name of the original site from which it is posted is crass. I can't help wondering what else is on that site. Of course, many of the graphics that get posted are simply shared from another friend's post, so who knows where or by whom the post was started. This is the nature of social networking gone viral.
I used to take these things very personally, and sometimes would object to them on site. I soon realized that I was a very minority voice, and began wondering if I was just taking things too seriously. I don't think I was, but I am much quieter now. I am realizing a few facts:
- People who are posting these items are not necessarily ascribing to the language or ideas in the graphic, they just found something amusing or arresting about it and wanted to surprise others the same way. The objectionable part is incidental ... but it's still there
- It is the nature of social interaction, virtual or real, to try to fit in. If one person is posting something, it is natural to want to connect with that person by affirming their post.
- Sometimes people just forget how public social networking is. They forget who can and cannot see what they are posting, and they often have only one or a few people in mind they think will understand why they posted. Most of the time, I think, the rest of us are just not in the loop.
For some folks, it is a darker side leaking out. Hey, I have one too. So does everyone. But social networking provides a new and interesting way to let down our guard and allow our darker side a measure of freedom we would not indulge in person, especially around all the people on our friend list. This is not the good thing some people will think it is.
But for all my network friends out there, be aware. Whether it is spoken or posted, sin is still sin. Crudeness is still crude. Words are still associated with you and should be thought through before being put out there in public. We are concerned about the physical safety implications of social networking and hear about them all the time. I'm not so sure people are paying as close attention to the moral safety of the tech. Even on line, the Devil is stalking around looking for someone to byte. So, my friends, let's be careful out there.