I do not like drama. It actually makes me irritable which, of course, only adds to the drama. I fully realize in a world populated with humans with internet access, there is going to be SOME drama. I get that. What I can’t tolerate is perpetual drama, recreational drama; drama as entertainment, drama to sell and drama evangelists. The kind of drama you get on Social Media 24/7/365.
Here are seven quick suggestions on how to decrease some of the very real drama in your virtual life.
1) If you truly were happier before social media took over the world, disconnect from it.
Deactivate your account and be done with it. I assure you the cyber world will not miss you (or me) but you may be healthier without it.
2) Don’t be afraid to use the “unfriend” or “unsubscribe” options.
Cyber “friendships” end quite painlessly and “unsubscribing” from a person who stirs up drama with every post will actually be much better for your real life relationship (if you actually have one). There are LOTS of people I liked better before I knew their every thought. And if they notice you “unfriended” them and ask why, tell them the truth with all kindness. Many people don’t have strong “self-awareness” and this honest conversation could be the best thing that ever happened to them.
3) Be careful with what you post.
Some people post stuff that is sure to cause a firestorm and honestly can’t figure out that they lit the match. If you aren’t sure you should post something, don’t. If you can’t take it, don’t give it and if you don’t want it, don’t ask for it. Also if you don’t want people in your business, don’t hang your dirty laundry in front of your cyber house.
4) Develop a mission statement for your social media use.
“To keep up with friends and family,” “To Share my faith” or “To Celebrate life” would be examples. And then stay on mission. Don’t get drawn into religious arguments, political scrums, relational drama or debates you don’t want to enter. My mission is “to celebrate the joy of authentic Christian living.” Faith, music, art, sports, history and culture all support this mission; criticism, party line politics, denominational arguments, rancorous debate and dogmatic diatribes do not. I want to keep it positive and have a good time while I am at it.
5) Pray the internet.
Turn the drama into prayer. Praying through your news feed item by item and sharing those prayers on the pages of others can be a rewarding spiritual exercise. And don’t type “praying” if you are not actually going to pray.
6) Learn to associate frustration with silence.
7) Take control.
Social media lets you have significant input into what you encounter if you take control of your feed. Think of it like one of those companies who sends you clothes and you send back what you don’t want. They are going to try to get it right because they want to sell you stuff and so will social media…for the same reasons. When stuff is thrown at you that you don’t want, send it back by using the controls available to you. In time, the things you see should suit you much better.
This is a brand new world. Social media offers some real opportunities to enhance or detract from the quality of your life. Facing it proactively, honestly, intentionally and with a mission will make sure what you hoped would be an enjoyable blessing doesn’t turn into a gut busting curse.
Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.