I can point out many good things about social media, and I’m sure you can as well. Think for a moment about the good aspects. Did you come up with at a few reasons why social media has been beneficial to your life or the lives of others? I believe I came up with a few reasons, too. My best friend from high school and I drifted apart when life became hectic in our mid-twenties. Addresses and phone numbers changed, babies came, jobs were demanding, and time slipped away from us. I turned around one day and realized almost a decade had passed since we last spoke. I was elated when I found her on Facebook. I sent her a message which started a beautiful reconnection. This story repeats itself with dozens of dear friends from school, prior jobs, and even family.
What social media platforms do you use? If you blog, you might be a big fan of this site or Tumblr. Twitter is great for instantaneous news and the short side of rambling thoughts. Perhaps you like the spontaneity of Snapchat or the hip simplicity of Instagram Or, maybe you are like me, mid-40’s and still using Facebook (or as my brother-in-law calls it, “Faceless” Book).
I have a love-hate with Facebook. I’ve actually heard many of you say this exact same thing. Facebook transitioned many of us away from MySpace. (I personally liked MySpace and stubbornly refused Facebook until 2008.) I love it for the pictures of newborn babies and rescue puppies. I love it for the vacation pictures of palm trees and sandy beaches. I am inspired by the posts about improvement to health and the hype of a new Netflix series I might be interested in.
But I hate what Facebook has done to the blended family. I realize so many can tell woeful tales of social media negatively affecting their marriage and the horrible ramifications of online bullying and bashing directed at mere children and teens. All of that is HORRIBLE and could fill a season’s worth of blogging time. But for a moment I specifically want to focus on the “us”, you and me and stepchild makes three (or in other cases four, five, or six).
Are you friends with your spouse’s ex on social media? Social media has been a thorny offshoot of our touchy relationship with my husband’s ex as well. Of course our lives intermingle at various points and we have mutual friends. For many years (and some recent history), we have been informed that we are the hateful target of bitterness, jealousy, and caustic words. All of this has happened in an online setting where our son could see it. My loving husband was called a “bad father” and other untrue names in a public Facebook post on Father’s Day a few years ago when our son was WITH us. Our family photos have been picked apart and scrutinized with the harshest of critique. We have been wished tragedy, hell, and all kinds of suffering. It was pointed out in the past that specific names were not mentioned, but when an “ex” is referred to, names aren’t needed. Children are smart, and they know exactly who you are talking about. If adults pick up on the gist, kids certainly do after a while.
Imagine how painful that must be for a child. He or she is enjoying a quiet moment riding in the car or relaxing at Dad’s (or Mom’s or Stepparent’s) house and they read a vitriolic post about a parent or stepparent they LOVE in their newsfeed. That must really attack the heart and mind. (If you have read about the various forms of parental alienation, you see how damaging this behavior is.)
It should be common sense, but for your child’s sake, please DO NOT post negativity where the child can see it. We all have a bad day and we all have lackluster experiences, but be mindful of speaking ill about anyone in the blended family unit. It’s just not cool. Beyond that, it’s just not RIGHT. Go out with your friends and vent. Call up a wise and trusted family member to get you through the moment. Go for a walk and sweat it out. JUST DON’T BASH the other parent or stepparent because I PROMISE you it hurts the child(ren).
Three things to ask yourself before posting – Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
I will give my humble opinion on the validation aspect of social media soon, but in the meantime here’s what the Bible tells us about hostile words:
Gossip – “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
Slander – “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” Psalm 101:5
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8
“Brothers, do not slander one another.” James 4:11
Mocking – “Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.” Proverbs 21:24
“Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” Proverbs 22:10
Questioning the character of others – “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:5
Innuendos – “For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.” Proverbs 26:20
Not doing the right thing – “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
Moment of prayer:
“Father, I feel like you had the blended family in mind when you gave us these words! How easy it is to criticize, to compare, or to tear down. Please take those urges away from me RIGHT NOW, Lord. There’s no room for negativity in our home. There’s also no room for hateful words or bitterness towards others directly or indirectly related to our blended family. Lashing out, gossip, and vengeance solves nothing. Our children are watching us, too. Lord, help me to continually be a good example for their lives.”