Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

Using Social Media in a positive way, part three

Okay, so we’ve talked about how to use the internet for good, and when to use the internet.  Now it’s time to think about what to share online.

What we share online can have a large impact on one’s life.  It’s well known that your online presence can be a factor in gaining employment, and more and more, that our online reputation links our personal and professional lives.  Bottom line?  It’s wise to be thoughtful about what to share online.

Here are the guidelines that I follow:

No Forbidden Speech

Jewish law is pretty clear on gossip, slander and the like.  It can cause all sorts of damage, emotionally, financially, socially.  It’s not okay.  Don’t do it.

All the laws related to using appropriate speech are applicable to online interactions.  Just ’cause it’s on a computer doesn’t mean it’s okay to spread lashon hara.  I suppose it can be easy to forget this, and to feel like since it’s not being said to anyone specific, it’s not really a problem.  It is a problem.

It may even be more serious (as if it weren’t serious enough), since some things posted online can reach an incredible amount of people, and so any gossip or slander can cause even more damage than if it’s being spread by one person to another.  Online, it’s being spread by one person to thousands (or more, depending on the source).

Be Positive

what could be more positive than chocolate bunnies?

I feel like I’ve been mentioning this a lot recently, but it’s just so true.  What we do and say affects other people.  I’ve been quite upset after reading particularly negative posts or comments, sometimes for days. On the other hand, if I’m in a bit of a funk, a funny link or an uplifting post can turn my mood around.

So, I decided that I would like to try to be a positive presence online.

Before I post, I ask myself:  Am I sharing something which could potentially uplift people?  Bring some giggles, or at least a smile?  Perhaps provide a different perspective or (hopefully) useful advice?  Give support to a friend?

Thankfully, I’ve been getting positive feedback about the blog (thank you everyone who has sent me such lovely emails!!), so I feel like I’m accomplishing this goal to some degree.  B”H.

Avoid Oversharing

Everyone has different boundaries for how much they are comfortable sharing with the world.  My litmus test is if the thing I’m posting would be something I would share in a room full of people, including my Rebbetzin.  Is it the kind of thing that reflects well on me?  On the frum community?  Is it how I want to present myself to the world?  Is it something I would be happy to share with a role model?

This means that, generally, I try to avoid posting things when I’m upset.  I feel like if I’m even keeled while online, I won’t cross the line of what I feel comfortable sharing.  I don’t want to have Facebook status or blog post regret.

Also, when I post anything related to my husband, I run it by him first.  He likes that I have a blog, but I think he likes it more that I don’t air our private life through said blog without his consent.

Disagree respectfully

I enjoy reading other points of view and interacting with people who hold different opinions or worldviews than I do, as long as we are able to interact in a respectful and positive manner.  If you’re going to tell me that I’m a horrible mother because I don’t mother exactly like you do, I’m not interested in listening.  Sorry.

There are lots of different opinions out there about, well, everything.  Chances are, if you read enough articles or posts online, you will come across someone you don’t agree with.  I certainly have.  And there have been times when I have written heated responses.

Before I share these responses with the world, ideally, I try to stop and ask myself, “what am I accomplishing with this angry response?  Am I going to convince this person that they are wrong by yelling at them online?”  Probably not.

If it’s in a forum where I think my point of view could add to the dialogue, I wait until I am more composed before writing my thoughts in a neutral, non-attacking manner.  I have found that sometimes calmly defending my viewpoint helps me to understand it better myself.  Here is an excellent post on how to disagree respectfully online.

Those are my guidelines, what are yours?


Image by lulubrooks via Flickr

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11 thoughts on “Using Social Media in a positive way, part three

  1. Wow – you once again knocked it out of the park with this one! My two favorite parts:

    “My litmus test is if the thing I’m posting would be something I would share in a room full of people, including my Rebbetzin. ”


    “He likes that I have a blog, but I think he likes it more that I don’t air our private life through said blog without his consent.”

    I do the same with my blog’s content and DH – although he has yet to say ‘no’ to anything I’ve wanted to post. I’m very lucky!

    1. I find it interesting that you say that, since I associate your online presence with positivity. Like, I feel you contribute to the world in a positive way, not that every thing is necessary sunshine and roses, but that your presence leaves the online world better for it.

      1. Thank you for your kind words. I have probably “improved” – hope this doesn’t sound too boastful – since I first started blogging. I have been made aware of the advantages of positivity by the other people blog and comment. Besides I no longer take the keyboard for a sword and just (usually) remain silent when I strongly disagree with what other people write.

  2. One of the reasons I post photos – hard to disagree with a photo of nature.

    On the other hand, sometimes one does one to discuss politics or other difficult topics. It’s hard not to get angry. Some use their blogs as a way to vent. Is this useful for them? I don’t really know. I do find those who are depressed but can blog about it – that’s a case where I would argue better to be negative than silent.

    1. You bring good points, Leora. I think that if a blog about depression can help the author, as well as others struggling in a similar way, then even though the content itself may be “negative,” the overall impact would be positive. Personally, I wouldn’t want to bare my soul online like that, but that’s my boundary. For someone else, it may be exactly what they need.

      Politics, eh. I find it’s rare to have a respectful disagreement in this field. It has happened, but it’s the exception, in my experience.

      As for other difficult topics, I would imagine that there could be good done, but it would probably be a “proceed with caution” kind of thing. It’s a tremendous responsibility to put information out there on the web, and I wouldn’t want that weight on my shoulders. I like mommy blogging. :)

  3. I have been absent from the blogging world and am finally dipping my toes in again. I agree with much of what you said, however I feel that talking through hard experiences is also a positive thing because there are many people who might have similar experiences who feel good when they read your personal reactions and feelings.

    That said, I’m an open person. Generally what I put on my blog is also what I would say in a room full of people. Appropriate? Not always. Then again, my mouth has not filter. I know, something I am learning to reel in. Thankfully my husband helps me with this aspect.

    1. Hi Amber! Lovely to see you again. I do agree that while sharing hard personal experiences isn’t necessarily for everyone (like me), it can be an incredibly positive thing for those who need to relate to a similar situation.

      For me, a negative post would be something along the lines of “I hate so-and-so. I can’t believe how horrible and offensive he/she is! Some people!” That’s the kind of negative personal experience than I think everyone should avoid. That and profanity. I’ve seen both on various blog posts, and have consequently not returned to those blogs.

  4. A very nice and thoughtful post! (And thank you for the glossary)! : )

    I also love in the comments how you are clear on what works for you, and accepting of others if what works for them is different.

    1. Thanks, Michelle! The glossary is a lot of fun to compile, I must say. And thank you for your sweet comment; I’m glad that I succeeded in respecting other people’s choices. Yay!

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