Andy Denen

Ideas on life, church, and culture.

Please, just stop.

I spent a lot of time on my phone. I like to feel connected and my phone helps with that. It has its downfalls for sure. I try to be aware of my habits and how they effect those around me.

I fit into the millennial generation. Those born between 1982 and 2004. I was born in 1984, so I’m on the older side of the millennials. We are the most connected generation in the history of mankind. We have instant access to literally anything in the world at any time. We don’t need an internet connection because we have data plans. As long as there is cell service, we are always just a few clicks and swipes away from any piece of information in the world.

I love the access we have. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Timehop, YouTube. There’s so many more. These are easily the most used by our generation.

Tim Elmore has written a great book called Generation iY that talks about the younger side of the Millennials and has some very interesting thoughts based on some long term research and obversations and one line stuck out to me that is staggering, but at the same time not that surprising, The total amount this generation spends their leisure time on social media is “equivalent to a full time job.” Think about that. Most college students go to school, work part time and STILL spend upwards of 40 hours a week on their phones/social media platforms.

In my observation here are a few things that we as a generation need to stop doing or it will end up hurting more than it helps:

1. Stop using social media as a therapist.

I don’t mean to sound rude, but the internet as a whole does not care if you’re stressed. There are people that care, you should call or text them. But instead my timeline gets filled with tweets and comments on posts about how overworked and stressed people are. The internet is not your friend. It’s a way to connect to your friends if you so choose, but the people that care what you put on the internet are also the ones you can reach out to directly. We need to stop using social media as our therapist. It can’t help us. Most of the “likes” and “retweets” and responses we get are from people we would talk to on a regular basis anyway… so why not just talk to them?

2. Don’t complain on social media.

Frankly, it’s just annoying. There’s no context. It’s expressed to people who don’t know you as well as your closest friends. Some things should only be shared in the safety of your most intimate friendships. Not to be broadcast all over the internet. And the “my profile is private” excuse is just that… an excuse. Especially if you use social media to complain about how busy you are. Because in the time that you typed the tweet, double clicked the instagram pic, scrolled through Facebook and caught up on your snapchat stories, you couldn’t started working on your next project. We’re all busy. You have the time, you just need to recognize it and spend the time wisely.

3. Don’t forget your future employers will look at your social media accounts.

This is a fact. It’s the best way to see if the “you” you project in the interview is consistent with the “you” everywhere else. Your twitter posts, your Facebook pics, your snapchat stories, they all paint a picture. What story are you telling? It’s important to have a balance of reality of restraint when using social media. Tell your story, but remember it’s consumed by every person who has access to your platform. Young, old, those in authority, those you are in authority over, those you were influenced by and those you influence. Post accordingly.

4. Don’t subtweet (or anything similar to that).

Literally, this is my biggest frustration on social media. You find out something that’s frustrating or irritating and the first place you go is social media!? With some one liner about how frustrated you are? It doesn’t make sense. I regularly see tweets and posts with just emojis… It screams of attention-seeking. It’s just not a healthy way to use your platform. You could argue that it’s your platform and you can do with it what you want and you’re right, but refer to number 3. If your employer knows you are going to publicly complain about things you don’t like, they are likely to believe you will eventually complain about them and that creates a trust issue. It causes a foundational fracture in a employer/employee dynamic. Not to mention it’s like publicly putting your friends on blast instead of pulling them aside, buying them a cup of coffee and having an adult conversation about something that’s bothering you. Stop subtweeting. It’s beneath you.

5. Don’t hide behind your social media accounts.

If you won’t say it in person, don’t say it online. It’s cowardly. Some of the biggest online bullies I’ve ever come across are only bullies online. Because they feel empowered by their anonymity they become the worst kind of online trolls. Don’t hide behind your keyboards lobbing bombs at other people. Your social media should be an extension of yourself. Not a different, made up version of who you’d like to be. Or a facade that makes you feel powerful. Be who you are, in person and online.

I work with middle school and high school kids. I try to stay connected and keep my finger on the pulse of social media and whatever fad is currently at the forefront of culture. And overwhelmingly the most frustrating stuff I see online is not from teenagers. It’s from people between the ages of 18-34. Somehow we have slipped into some bad habits.

We should remember that our words have power. We can speak both life and death into people. If you’re frustrated, talk to the person with whom you’re frustrated. Don’t tweet about it. If you disagree with someone, be willing to have a full conversation, don’t troll their Facebook. Don’t post Snapchat stories that are seemingly begging for people to give you attention because of how difficult a particular situation may be. Reach out to people. They are there. Your value doesn’t increase or decrease based on how many likes, retweets, favorites, and views you get.

And for all our sake, if you claim to be a Christ follower, stop making the rest of us look bad by being a jerk online. You can be honest without being an idiot.

You can be truthful and compassionate at the same time.

If it sounds like I’m talking to you, it’s probably because you’ve done something outlined above. None of us are immune. It takes constant effort on our part and accountability from those we trust the most. Just check yourself, ask those closest to you, and make adjustments where necessary.

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