What words do you associate with the words "social media"? When I asked a room full of people recently, most of the answers I got had negative connotations—fake, waste of time, conflict, bullying... It's easy to see all the problems that can arise online. But there are also some amazing things that come from these platforms. We can connect with loved ones, spread the gospel, and share light, just to name a few.
For good or for bad, social media is the world's most powerful persuasive messaging tool. There are over 3.8 billion users, with 11 new people joining every second! And they're spending a LOT of time there. Just take a look at this graphic:
What doses of persuasion are these groups getting every day? And even more importantly, what kind of influence for good could we have if we changed the climate of social media?
Elder Neil A. Anderson of the quorum of the twelve apostles said, "As the world speaks less of Jesus Christ, let us speak more of him... We care more about being bis followers than being 'liked' by our own followers."
Many of us may have had negative experiences on social media. Some of us have even left platforms because it was too much. Of course, we should be really deliberate with our own healthy boundaries with social media, but President Russell M. Nelson said, "True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world." So, with these thoughts, could I suggest three steps for helping foster this important change online?
1. Post about the gospel in action in your life.
When the light of the gospel touches your life, it filters into everything you do. Sharing your beliefs can be a lot easier than you might think. For example: reading a good book, having a positive conversation, riding bikes with your family, having a prayer answered... The small and simple things often have the biggest impact.
When you're wondering how to share about the gospel, here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Do all the human things! When you focus on daily applications and how the gospel affects what you value in life, the message becomes so much more relatable to family and friends.
Find something positive to say. It doesn't have to be big or grandiose. Just find something you think is praiseworthy and share it.
Share a gospel principle. While sharing a quote or scripture is nice, it becomes so much more personal when we can see how it affected or changed you. Sometimes it even inspires us to apply it to our own lives.
"Don't let perfection be the enemy of good." -Voltaire. Don't worry about 'getting it right'. Just share what you see, believe in, and feel. You'll be amazed at how imperfect posts can have a perfectly positive effect.
2. Submit positive content to share in the community.
Our local social media page, @goodnewsofmenifee is always looking for new content. We would LOVE to share the positive messages that are spread throughout our community.
You can also consider how your church calling could be used to share light. Are you a seminary teacher that could incorporate this submission form as an assignment? Could you call someone in your youth group to submit pictures and descriptions after youth activities? Did your ward throw a party recently? Do you have a missionary who just received a call? Did you find a scripture that touched your heart and you feel like sharing your testimony?
We'd love to help boost anything you want to share so our neighbors, friends, and city can see exactly what we believe. Even better, we love tagging different accounts, and using community hashtags to help reach other channels, organizations, and individuals who may not know about us or what we believe.
You can submit any kind of positive content you'd like below. It's not too hard, and we can't wait to see what you have for us!
3. Engage with others positively online.
Sometimes we forget it's called "social" media. Most people turn to these apps in a subconscious effort to connect with others. That means the best way to use these tools is to build genuine relationships with others. Commenting and messaging is one of the most powerful tools of any platform. As you reach out, chat with, and connect with others, you're going to build trust in a very comfortable and natural way. You'll have the power to truly help change the tone on social media for your friends and family if you frequently reach out to them. That's because social media notices who talks to each other and tries its best to keep showing you each other's content if you're constantly in contact.
That being said, if you see negativity online, the worst thing you could do is respond to it. This is because social media likes to showcase posts and comments that get lots of responses. So by replying you're only telling the algorithms that "this comment is worth showing lots because it's getting lots of attention!" If you feel like standing up for someone or something, a good alternative is to reach out to someone privately and tell them how much you value and love them, or create your own positive comment without responding to the negative one.
If you're feeling a little unsure about your ability to spread the light of the gospel, remember that Christ said both of these things:
You have a personal endorsement from Christ, to share his light. And he doesn't just need one representative. He needs an entire city. If each of us take a moment to share just a small portion of light, we can literally become a city, set on a hill that cannot be hid. So go ahead and give it a try. Leave someone a compliment, post about the light of the gospel in your life, and help leave social media better than you found it.