Shine the light
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.
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.
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.
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 is a social media strategist from jessiesynan.com. 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.