On September 24th I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (which I don’t use much, I know I’m terrible), and LinkedIn that:
Allison Crandall and I are signing off of Facebook/Messenger/Social Media for a while. If you need me you an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Allie gave me the business because, “who cares if you’re off social media.” She likes to give me the business (I like it too).
I remember telling her, “I know, people won’t care, but sometimes people ask me questions, etc and it’s kind of like an out of the office email letting people know I’m off and how to contact me if they need something.” I’m a pastor and I utilize social media a lot.
We were both wrong, people cared, they really cared. People freaked out. I don’t have a large following on social media, a few hundred followers on Twitter and a couple thousand friends on Facebook. I don’t know how to check Instagram followers (I know I’m terrible).
Within minutes of my signing off social media, I got 27 text messages, 5 phone calls, and a few emails. The questions and comments continued for the next week. They were:
- Is something wrong? Are you guys okay?
- I want to see the boys. Have someone else post pictures.
- What about Penny?
- How are we going to hear about Penny?
- What’s Penny doing?
(Penny is our dog. She’s a corgi. She’s a puppy and… terrible, but we love her. She has her own Instagram, which I’d post here, but you know… I’m terrible and don’t know what it is exactly).
My favorite question was from a very serious, but paranoid friend: “are you afraid the government and Illuminati are watching you?” I sent a text jokingly back, “aren’t they the same thing?”
The Social Media Social Contract
I’m nobody special. I didn’t understand why there was such a reaction to my signing off of social media. As I reflected though, I think it has something to do with the way that we connect and feel connected. I think, due to social media, we are okay with feeling more physically/spatially/relationally disconnected from others. After all we don’t need to actually keep up with people because we can always pop on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and see what’s happening in their world.
That’s not an indictment. I enjoyed getting back on Facebook and seeing my cousin’s kids, my brother’s dog, my friend’s accomplishments, etc. Social Media has made it possible to keep up without keeping up. It’s like there is kind of a new social media social contract that says this is okay. People liked keeping up with me from afar. I didn’t know how much the posts of our boys, our thoughts, funny quips, Bible verses, and Corgi pics meant to others. It was only after signing off of social media though that I knew we mattered like that to others.
It got me thinking that maybe I should contact personally (via text, phone call, invite over, get coffee with, etc) those people who I enjoy seeing on social media. I should spend time checking in with them outside the Twittersphere and Facebook universe.
My reflection today is don’t let the social media social contract be the only social contract you have with people.