I still remember the sting I felt six years ago. I was mindlessly scrolling Facebook one Saturday afternoon when I came to a picture of familiar faces. Several of my friends from church had carpooled two hours away to see another friend who had recently moved…and this group (that included some of my closest friends at the time) hadn’t invited me. It felt purposeful that I wasn’t included. To say I was crushed at the time seems to be a bit overdramatic, but that is exactly what I felt.
Fast forward a few years when I got together with a couple friends for dinner and one of those friends posted a sweet picture of us the next day. Little did I know that another friend would feel exactly the same way that I felt those years ago. Excluded. Isolated. Uninvited.
I have been on both sides of the “posting pictures of friends on social media” issue. I love my friends. I love getting together with my friends. I love posting these pictures because my friends are a part of who I am as a person- they have spoken life and love into me in a season filled with babies, then toddlers, preschoolers, and now school-aged kiddos. Why wouldn’t I want to show the world how great my friends are?!?!
But I don’t. Not anymore. I have learned that posting pictures of my friends and me online isn’t worth the heartache and hurt it could potentially cause someone else. Someone, like me all those years ago, who wasn’t invited.
I don’t think this is a maturity issue or an issue needing “thicker skin”. This is a human issue. Being excluded, whether you are SEVEN or SEVENTY, hurts. And is it worth it to hurt a friend in order to show our online world how great our lives are? I don’t think so. I would venture to guess that every single woman (or man) has felt the sting of being excluded. We wouldn’t walk up to someone and tell them all about the event we went to, knowing they weren’t invited, so why would we post pictures that essentially do the same thing?
As women (and individuals), we will be healthier and less prone to feeling hurt/wounded when we are confident in ourselves. Ultimately for me, this means finding my identity in the Lord and not my husband, children, friends, job, or contribution to society. When I focus on my relationship with Him, I am less prone to feeling hurt or jealous and more eager to give grace and be happy for others. But life is a journey and we are not all at a confident place in our lives. Showing sensitivity for those who are more vulnerable is truly an act of kindness.
I am the type of person that is most comfortable one-on-one or in a small group of 3 or 4 (at the max). I feel lost in a bigger group and can’t connect beyond surface-level topics. In order to have meaningful friendships, this normally means that I seek out time for individual conversations. If I am going to break away from being with my family, it will normally be to get together with a friend one-on-one. And this inevitably means that not everyone is invited. This is a recipe for a deep and meaningful friendship, in my opinion, and something that doesn’t need to be broadcasted to the world…especially when this one-on-one time might be hurtful to someone else.
Don’t get me wrong…I still post pictures of my family and will post pictures of/with friends (and my friends’ kids) if we are at an inclusive event (church, school, or community functions where everyone is invited). But if I have dinner with a friend or we take a trip with another family, I won’t post it. It isn’t worth hurting other friends in the process.
PS- I think this is an ESPECIALLY important lesson we need to learn in the church. The online world is tricky territory when it comes to our faith as nothing is black and white…but I think that as Christians we must be ultra vigilant to ensure that the image we are working so hard to create online isn’t hurting others in the process. 1 Corinthians 9 talks about not being a stumbling block to someone else and I think the social media world is definitely one tactic the Enemy uses!
PPS- I use Facebook as my online photo album. ALL my special pictures from the years are on there. If I want to include a photo in an album so that I will have it down the road but don’t want to hurt someone in the process, I just set the privacy settings on either the picture or the album to “just me” or to the select individuals I want to include. No one else will be able to see the photos this way.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Please share in the comments!