A few weeks ago, my wife and I substituted in Primary during sharing time. We sat on a row with a class of younger junior Primary kids. Our goal was to help these wiggly children focus for snatches of time as talks, prayer, and music were shard. I was devoting the bulk of my attention to one child whose attention span seemed to be non-existent.
In the middle of my battle to help this young girl focus, she leaned over to my wife and said: “You look old.” My wife was quick to respond that she was a grandmother and that grandmothers have to look old.
While this was an innocent and entertaining exchange, it brought up an issue that is very important when we think of how we interact with social media. A sign of social maturity is when we develop the filter that allows us to interact appropriately with others. For a young child to comment on someone’s age is understandable and even funny. But such “honest” comments need to be properly filtered in face to face conversation.
Social media tends to thrive on removing that vital filter. Because conversations and dialogs have moved from the real to the virtual world, their tone has shifted from acceptable to abrasive. Things we would never say in a real conversation, are easily posted on a variety of social media outlets.
Once posted, it’s out there and almost impossible to take back. Worst yet, one off putting comment breeds other similar posts. Soon venom and spite go viral and nothing positive can result.
In today’s Stake Conference we heard a powerful testimony on the need for proper social media usage. Mentioned on that talk was a reference to a speech given by Elder Bednar. I have included a link to that talk here. I suggest you use all or part of this speech as a discussion point in a Family Home Evening setting. This can open the doors to a discussion on how to make sure your family is doing its part to contribute to the positive influence that social media can be.
I advocate that we all treat social media was we would real dialog. The filter we can all benefit from was best expressed by Thumper’s mother. “If you cant’ say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”