“One of my friends posted a picture, and I’m 99% sure you and your husband are at the table behind them,” said an email from my friend, Amanda.
Crazy thing is, Amanda is in Germany.
Yes, my husband and I did go out to dinner. No, we did not take any selfies or post any pictures or updates about our date to anyone, not even a picture of the delicious pesto flatbread. But still, a friend of mine, on the other side of the world, was able to tell exactly what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with by scrolling through her Facebook feed.
Social media is fantastic…sometimes. I love seeing first day of school pictures and reading inspiring quotes and tweeting back and forth with one of my girlfriends about nail polish colors. Facebook is where I learned my niece had a soccer injury. Twitter is where I met my dear friend, Holly. I got an idea on yet another way to pair my favorite army jacket from Pinterest and viewed my friend’s new puppy for the first time via Instagram. But what about the stuff I don’t want to share, the stuff I don’t want the world to see?
We’re all hopefully savvy enough by now not to post things we don’t want to be made public. But what about what other people post?
What if I was with someone I shouldn’t have been, or been somewhere different than I had told people I was going, or doing something I’d regret or be ashamed of? What if that was what showed up in the background of a stranger’s photo? Who might see it? What might they think? How might it change things?
There was a show in the 70’s called Candid Camera that’s just made a comeback on TV Land. The premise is that a hidden video camera records random people reacting to premeditated Candid Camera stunts. A new episode has an actor reaching over and dunking their donut in the stranger’s coffee next to them at the lunch counter. There was a show with a public mailbox that threw letters back out at anyone trying to stuff their mail in the slot and an episode with a hundred dollar bill glued to the ground, so people would try to pick it up, but couldn’t. The funniest clips were shown once a week on prime time. All new clips start this month with a revamped Candid Camera.
What if everything we did and said this school year could get posted, tweeted or yikes, recorded and aired on TV? Anyone we might sneak out with, anything we might try even when we feel a nagging feeling inside -- like maybe it’s not such a good idea, could still get photographed for all the world to see, whether a friend takes a photo, or a random passerby, or an unfamiliar couple at a restaurant.
My email from Amanda made me laugh, but also startled me a bit.
Almost anyone can find out what I’m up to. With that in mind, I try to follow this rule -- think about two people I highly respect. Who are yours—can you picture them in your head? Would I want them to see what I’m about to do? Would I want them to know who I’m about to do it with? Would I want them to hear what I’m about to say? If not, I need to think again.
And at the end of the day, even if no on else ever finds out about what I did, I will always know I did it, and so will God. If there’s someone I respect, whose opinion I value most, that would be God. And God doesn’t need to hide a camera or scroll down His feed to catch me in the crazy antics and knee jerk reactions I make each day. He sees me make a wrong turn, burn the grilled cheese, wipe my hands on my jeans. He sees me at my best and at my worst. He sees us all day, every day, and loves us all the time, no matter how hard we try to shove that mail back in the slot, no matter what we wish we hadn’t done or are hoping to hide.
By now, most of us have learned to be wise about how we use social media, but remember there are candid cameras in virtually everyone’s pockets, and although my actions and your actions probably won’t be aired Tuesday at eight, it could be posted to thousands. And even if it’s never posted, God already knows. He’s there to help us make good decisions and be honest about who we are and who we’re with and what we do. And when we mess up, whether we’re caught on or off film, He loves us anyway.
I don’t know about you, but that gives me a great reason to smile.
What's the most surprising thing you've seen or learned on social media?
Laura L. Smith