For people of all ages, social media can be a double-edged sword. For seniors, on the one hand, this digital land of memes and internet culture can be confusing. On the other hand, it can be a great way to keep in touch with friends, family and personal interests no matter where you live. For those who have decided to downsize and enjoy life in an assisted living community, those digital connections can be important.
But for seniors who are also Christians, social media has yet another edge to consider. How can you show the love of Christ through your interactions with others in these formats? As with any part of life, it can be easy to slip into worldly ways on social media that do more to hurt the message of the Gospel than foster it.
Whether you're looking forward to using social media to stay in touch as you move on to the next chapter of your retirement or you want to specifically share the good news with others from your assisted living apartment at Bethesda Gardens, here are some tips for being a Christian senior on social media.
Do realize that there are privacy issues, and take time to learn about how to protect yourself online. Share the Gospel, not your address or personal financial details, for example. And consider making your social media accounts private so only people you allow can see what you post.
Don't fall prey to the green-eyed monster. People often filter what they post on social media, so they're more likely to post the fun or enjoyable aspects of their lives. If you're struggling with anything, such as a health scare or just feeling a bit lonely, it's easy to get even more down because you're comparing your real life with the curated images other people are sharing. Instead, work on feeling glad for other people's blessings and realizing that social media never tells the full story.
Do follow Jesus's commandments when you're online. Remember that he said to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. It's probably a good idea to love the Lord with your social media account too by posting only those things that glorify God or at least don't fly in the face of what you know God wants you to do or say. And it's also good to remember what Jesus said was the second and almost as important commandment: Love others as yourself. Making fun of people or being rude to them online is probably not loving them. It's easy to forget that the people we deal with through screens and keyboards are still people.
Don't engage in social media chain mail. Chain mail isn't new, but it's found new life on social media. It starts with a post that promises or threatens. Share or post this, and you'll be blessed. Or, share this post, else something bad will happen. This type of post has infiltrated Christian Facebook, with people constantly sharing images and implying if you don't share the message, you don't love Jesus enough. Except seniors of faith know this isn't how Christ works, and blackmailing someone into sharing a copied Bible verse or so-called Christian image is anything but Christian.
If you love social media or the idea of connecting with others online, there are many options to choose from. Connect with old friends on Facebook, share cell phone photography on Instagram or wade into the wide world of Twitter. But as you do, don't forget to bring the WWJD mindset — asking yourself what Jesus would do before you post helps you be a better Christian on social media.