Shine the light

How to use digital discipleship to reverse negativity on social media

Negativity on social media isn’t something we need to accept. We can do something about it when we take purposeful, consistent steps to change it. In this article, you will learn how we can change the negativity on social media by connecting generations through positive Christian fellowship online. We can change our social media feeds for the better by putting “digital discipleship” into action.

By Jessie Synan
Social Media Strategist

I hear it all the time – “I am so sick of the negativity on my Facebook feed.”

It is probably the one complaint that I hear across generations about social media. We all want a positive experience on social media. We want to see stories we like, hear happy news, and find positive emotional connections on social media. However, many users complain about finding negativity on social media.

Instead, we see stories filled with drama and heartbreak. We see political rants and arguments that we try so hard to avoid. Some days it may seem like everything we try to avoid in the world is sitting there, right on our social media news feed. This can only lead us to question – why are we seeing so much negativity in social media?

The answer may actually surprise you.

Why are we seeing negativity on social media?

In the last year, I have noticed an interesting shift in my Facebook feed. As I started to work with small churches on their social media accounts, I would like and follow all of them on my Facebook page. I would stop to make sure that each social media post was correct and that it went out of its way to capture the attention of those who may be interested in trying church again.

Within two months of this, not only did I stop seeing negativity on my social media, but I in fact saw more positive posts. Even posts that had nothing to do with church.

Suddenly, I was stopping my scroll every few sections to see a picture of someone’s brand new puppy or a heartwarming story about random acts of kindness. I started to see happy stories of family reunions and children originally missing that were found alive.

My Facebook became the happy social media I wanted it to be. I was somehow reversing some of the negativity on social media.

So how did my social media get so happy? How was I reducing the negativity on social media? It couldn’t be because of these churches, could it?

As a social media strategist, I naturally dug in and researched. After reading through a lot about Facebook, I found out one stunning fact about how Facebook controls your news feed.

If you are scrolling through your Facebook feed and stop to read anything, Facebook notices that you stopped to read it, even if you do not engage with the post at all.

This means that if you are scrolling through your feed, and you stop to read something, it will affect the Facebook algorithm. Facebook notices what catches your attention and what doesn’t catch your attention.

If you stop and read the negativity, you are promoting the amount of negativity on your social media page.

It wasn’t the churches that changed my algorithm, it was me. Since I started focusing on more positivity, more positivity came to my news feed.

That may sound like manifestation, but it is actually Facebook studying you and what you find interesting. That is not a bad thing; if Facebook did not have an algorithm, your feed would be filled with almost a million posts every day.

Some type of algorithm is needed to make your experience on Facebook worthwhile. Whether you notice or not, every time you stop to read something, you are creating the experience you want on Facebook.

We have to be the people who start the domino effect of changing the negativity on social media.

Who can change the negative effects of social media on society?

The simple answer to that question is us. We have to be the people who can change negative effects of social media. We are the ones who start the domino effect.

If we stop reading the drama, the rants, etc. we will be less likely to share them into the world. If we read the positivity we are saying that we want to see, then we will start sharing positivity in the world.

The founding president of Facebook now sees Facebook as having a detrimental effect on society. He understands that creating “likes” and other types of engagement creates “dopamine hits” to get us to want more of it. Simply put, it is easy to become addicted to social media.

If we use social media, we may not be able to control that part of what it does to the dopamine in our brains. However, we can work to make it a pleasant experience by helping to reduce the negativity on social media.

As a Christian social media strategist, I have learned that the people who have the biggest power to change the negative effects of social media on society are Christians. We can do this through a new trend that you may be a part of without realizing: digital discipleship.

Ways to Create Digital Discipleship on Social Media

You can easily become involved in digital discipleship.

A disciple is usually known as a follower of Jesus. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you want to walk the walk of Jesus and talk the talk of Jesus. No, this does not mean pushing Bible verses and your thoughts on Christianity down people’s throats. This means being Jesus in the world, which is equivalent to being love in the world.

Imagine if you could take how you carry yourself as a Christian everyday and transfer it to the digital sphere.

Matthew 5:14 says “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

What if we brought that light to social media? What if we did our part in stopping negativity on social media?

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean showing all the Bible verses on Facebook. To a nonbeliever, they will not yet connect with Bible verses. That means we need to reach people in other ways. And those ways are positivity and love.

Supplemental Material for Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective. (2018). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

See the graphic below for ideas on how to reduce negativity on social media. 

Graphic list of negative effects of social media

Now it’s your turn: How can you be the positive change in social media?

Leave a comment below or on social media. We’d love to hear your suggestions for reducing negativity on social media.

Meet the author:
Jessie Synan

Photo of woman's face

Jessie is a social media strategist from She helps churches and online ministries spread the good news about Jesus in the digital world, and also blogs from her faith website which focuses on helping busy women overcome prayer obstacles.

She is married to her best friend who is in youth ministry, and has two little ones that keep her on her toes. She writes a lot about sharing Jesus online as well as her open and honest journey of her struggles with prayer.

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  1. I’m trying to remember when I have read a little article like this, and I just can’t… and I have been digital for ages.
    It’s a beauty. Insightful and full of truth. Love it

      1. I like this, sometimes its so hard to know what to do, engage or not. Or when someone is too nice. I have started praying more about this. Very helpful post!

          1. I love this post. I see so many people who claim to be believers acting ugly on social media. Even if we have different beliefs, it’s still important to show each other respect and to act in a respectable manner. Inrecenly watched a sermon by Bishop Ulmer. He was talking about how somebody who was supposed to pick him up didn’t recognize him because he didn’t look like his picture. He then went on to talk about how people don’t recognize us as Christians because we don’t look like our picture. I think its important to remember that we represent Him everywhere we go. Blessings, Joni

    1. Wow this post was a real eye opener! I had no idea that this is the way it works! Thank you Jessie for this insight into Facebook and negativity on social media!

        1. We’re hoping Americana Steeples, the website and social media, can be another offering for positivity and knowledge on the Web!

    1. Thanks, Brian! Glad to hear that! Jessie is our social media advisor for Americana Steeples, and she always has a nugget of wisdom to share with us. I’m thankful for how invested she is in our success!

  2. Such a great and much needed post! Thank you for the eye-opening truth about negativity on social media. Many times what we complain about we actually have some responsibility for and just haven’t realized it, yet.
    Blessings! ?

  3. This was useful to me on so many levels. It is also such an interesting outlook on social media – a much need one considering how dependent we are on it. Bless you!

  4. I feel the same way about the negativity on social media. I didn’t realize that when I stop to read a negative post that FB would take notice. It probably causes even more to pop up in front of me when I get on FB. I had to stop following some family members (they don’t know) because of the f-bomb dropping and all the fighting really gets down into my soul and is hard to forget once I’ve let it in my eye gate. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    1. I try to repeat to myself “Just keep scrolling, just keep scrolling.” It’s the Dory method of viewing Facebook, lol. Yes, I’m a fan of Finding Nemo, haha

      1. Hi Jesse! Thank you much for taking a deep dive into this topic. I had no idea Facebook gave people so much power to control what we see in our feed. I learned so much from your article!

  5. Definitely not what I was expecting and I hear myself saying: “but…but… I like a good debate”. A lot of my Facebook news feed is news stories after news stories. Friends posting about Mask and not to mask. All types of Christian and Secular Conspiracy theories. Friends from High school up in arms against each other. And, me, well, I dive in – make my comments, engage and the ghost the comment and discussion. Definitely shared this cause I know I needed this today.

  6. Jessie, you’ve included so many good points here. I have actually had to step away from Instagram completely during this season. The negativity of social media was for sure playing a role in my life. I feel so so much better without it!

  7. This is great!!!! It’s nice to know we can change what we see on social media. I’ve stop going on Facebook for many years because I didn’t want to see the negativity, but now I know what to do to turn it off

  8. I love the idea of Digital Discipleship! And it’s so interesting to know just how the Facebook algorithm works and how we can use it to our advantage. Thanks, Jesse!

  9. Such a refreshing read on negativity in social media. I love hearing that we have a say or vote on what we see in our feeds!

  10. I have mixed feelings about social media. I love it for discipleship but I also feel like there’s a lot of negative stuff going on in the world that needs to be exposed and with how tuned into social media we are its hard not to take the exposure there, ya know.
    But the effects of that are draining. But I also don’t want to get to an “out of sight out of mind,” place either. I’m all over the place. LOL

  11. Wow! I learned a lot about how to improve removing some of the negativity on social media. I have also been intentional in who I follow as well.

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