For many older adults, social media is still a bit of a conundrum. You may have mastered Facebook or learned to share photographs on Instagram, but with a new social platform arising every few months, it's impossible to keep up.
Older adults of faith might even wonder whether they should keep up. What might Jesus say about social media, anyway?
You might think the Bible doesn't have anything to say about social media, seeing as it was written before anything digital existed. But it has a lot to say about living as a person of faith in the world, and social media is part of the digital world — which is very much part of the world as a whole.
Take a quick dive into some things Jesus and others had to say about living in this world and what those truths might mean for seniors who are active on social media.
Toward the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls his followers the light of the world. He tells them people don't light a lamp and hide it under a basket or bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand so everyone in the home can benefit from its light.
He tells his followers they should do the same by allowing their light to shine before others. When others see the good works performed by the followers of Christ, it gives glory to God. That's still true today, and it can be true on social media as well as in real life.
Older adults who want to be on social media should remember these instructions and seek to post and engage in ways that shine a light that points to Jesus.
That doesn't mean constantly sharing Bible verses and Christian memes, however. It means remembering that the people you interact with on social media are just that — real people. It's important to interact with them following all the same tenets you would use in real-life interactions.
Prior to his words about shining your light, Jesus uses another metaphor to describe his followers. In Matthew 5:13, he says, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
Believers who take part in the world of social media must be careful not to let the spice of the world season them, causing them to lose their saltiness. Instead, they should work to sprinkle this digital landscape with that salt.
In Romans, Paul warns people of faith to avoid being so caught up in the world that they become conformed to it. It may seem silly, but it can actually be easier in a lot of ways to become conformed to the digital world. The lack of face-to-face connections and the constant messaging that occurs via other people's posts and advertising can break down even the best Spiritual shields.
A good way to avoid being conformed to the digital world is to ensure you take plenty of breaks from it. Limit how much time you spend on Facebook or other sites each day, and find ways to connect with friends and family in person when possible to counteract some of the potential negative impacts of social media.
For example, if you're living in an assisted living community, take time each day to check out one of the activities on the social calendar or spend your meals dining with others. This can help you break free of any issues social media might be causing.
If you feel yourself getting caught up in social media drama, take a few minutes to consider whether your actions on social media check the boxes for the fruits of the Spirit. If what you're sharing or commenting about on social media doesn't tick the box for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you might want to think more than twice about posting.
Finally, look for ways you can use social media to be of service to others. This doesn't mean sharing your assets and money with others on social media. If people are asking for money or donations, tread carefully, as there are plenty of scams that start with these types of requests.
However, you have other things of value you can share with others online without putting your finances at risk. Simple affirmation, for example, can be a powerful service to others. Let people know when you appreciate them or their message, and always talk to people rather than talking about them online.