A Social Media Rule of Life

I am thankful for social media spaces. They can be helpful instruments of sharing life, faith, connection, and community.

Like any other space it can be a place of wholeness or a place of harm, a place that inspires or a place that insults, a place that fosters dignity or a place that does violence to the other.

As I acquaint myself with a new community I recognized that I needed to frame the use of these spaces that though hosted by different corporations (and this reality in and of itself deserves more ethical reflection) they bear my name.

You might call this my current rule of life for social media engagement:

  1. Purpose – Though this space bears my name and my likeness this space is not me — it is a place to share information.
  2. Engagement – Because this space is one-dimensional and it can easily be used to dehumanize myself and others I do not argue or debate on this platform. I would be happy to engage in conversation over direct-message, email, or phone call for those who are not in town. If you are in town I rather have a conversation over a cup of coffee. I read, listen, and watch widely so just because I share something does not mean that I am in 100% agreement with what is shared — I don’t think I am ever 100% in agreement even with myself.
  3. Community – I believe that we can disagree and still be in community with one another in person and through social media.
  4. Non-Violence – Since it bears my image and name I will not allow any post (including comments) that dehumanize another. This includes — but it is not limited to — anything racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, xenophobic, antisemitic, Islamophobic, etc. I will delete any post, comment, or share that I deem dehumanizing.
  5. Responsibility – The content that I share is mine and does not reflect the opinions, positions, and/or stances of my family, current or former congregations, and judicatories unless shared from their social media pages. I am thankful for my circles of accountability: my spiritual director, my spouse and brother, my small covenant partners, and my senior pastor.
  6. Discernment – Since so much happens in the world and it happens quickly I often will not immediately post about it — I take it to prayer, I take it to conversations with close confidants, and often dig a bit deeper about what is happening. Just because I do not comment on it does not mean I do not care or do not see it as important. Often I am merely trying to discern what the best response is and sometimes the best response is in incarnate community followed by a social media post and at other times the best response is indeed silence.
  7. Humility – I will change my mind – my thoughts, ways of being, behaviors, and positions continue to be shaped by my life in God alongside other creatures. I am not who I was a decade ago and my hope is that in another decade I am a more loving, kind, compassionate, present person than I am today. Integrity and so called authenticity (this term in itself deserves its own conversation) does not mean being the same but on the contrary a willingness to be transformed over time and continue a process of being a more integrated, whole, healed, interdependent human. (Here I’m thankful for Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy who sparked this thought in me)
  8. Presence – My primary place is the community that I have vowed to live life with my family (and here I do not mean just blood relations but the network of kinship — a network of relationships that sustains, shares resources, and is present to one another), followed by the community that I pastor and the neighborhood/city that I live in.

It is my hope that these social media spaces that bear my name and likeness become places of inspiration, healing, and connection. Though I know I have and will mess it up, I will fail to live up to my own expectations, I hope to model the behavior that I outline here. I hope that all who stop by can stay connected with me but more importantly are inspired to find community in and where they are, communities of solidarity, inspiration, connection, love, and justice.

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