The funny thing about being a Christian is that we have a high value on honesty and authenticity. We know this is true because of the extremes that this value has birthed. For example, the girl in your small group who, upon being asked for prayer requests, gives a far-too detailed account of the ins and outs of her recent break-up.
For twenty minutes.
We all have stories like this, and if we don’t, we can all have one with just a few clicks. Log on to your Facebook, and I can almost guarantee that you have what I call a “TMI Friend.” TMI, if you don’t know, is a handy acronym for “Too Much Information.” This is the friend who posts, well, too much information–personal information–to their Facebook or Twitter account.
For all 1,372 “friends,” now forced to know something this person that we’d rather not know, thank you very much.
Sure, honesty is a virtue–heck, it’s biblical. Being authentic and “real” with your friends is key to healthy relationships, and being honest with God is absolutely vital for a biblical spirituality (read Psalm 22 and you’ll get what I mean). But I sometimes wonder if social media and authenticity have come together to birth an awkward, downright ugly child.
On social media, we shufﬂe off our mortal coils and leave our bodies behind, engaging in the blissful world of mediated communication. When we do this, we ﬁnd ourselves surprisingly freed to be open, honest, and “real,” and in that moment, many of us say too much.
Our bodies are our ﬁrst and most important barrier to modesty: they remind us that there are some things best kept hidden and unrevealed (or at least only revealed to a few). When we leave our bodies behind, we lose this barrier, and suddenly we ﬁnd ourselves posting openly about our hidden feelings about something that, with better judgment, may not have been said aloud.
Here is a handy rule of thumb: just because it’s true doesn’t mean everyone needs to know about it. Modesty, of the verbal kind, is a valuable skill in a world ﬁlled with TMI Friends. The next time you want to post something–even if it’s true–ask yourself, “Would I walk through my high school (or ofﬁce, or church, or…) and announce this information via bullhorn to all who can hear?”
If the answer is no, then don’t post, and enjoy the gratitude of the rest of us who didn’t really want to know. If the answer is yes, well, please don’t be offended when I unfriend you.