So you embarrassed yourself on Facebook. Again. It’s alright, we’ve all done it—because while Facebook can be awesome, especially when used as a tool to share the gospel, there’s no denying it’s created a new breed of social faux pas, which, whether you’re new to Facebook or not, can be tricky to navigate.
Social media etiquette is the key. For those of you looking to share the gospel online, we’ve created a list of 6 Facebook Dos and Don’ts which, we hope, will make you a more effective “Facebook Missionary”—and a kinder, more considerate user of social media.
Alright, pinkies out! Let’s get to work!
1. Facebook Don’t: Engage in Arguments
You’re scrolling through Facebook when suddenly you see it: a heated debate on somebody’s profile. Looks like they’ve got a bone to pick with the Church, and their opposing viewpoint isn’t going to come quietly.
We’ve been taught to be tolerant and respectful of other people’s beliefs. On the other hand, we’ve also been taught to “stand as a witness of Christ in all times and in all things and in all places” (see Mosiah 18:9). Is this the place to apply the latter principle?
The answer is pretty much always a resounding “no.” No matter what your intentions may be, Facebook arguments almost always become personal. If someone you know makes a point you disagree with, personally attacking them—even with truth—in their comment box will just put everyone on the defense. Remember, as Facebook Missionaries, we’re defending the gospel, not offending with the gospel.
2. Facebook Do: Start Conversations
That said, don’t be afraid to post about the things that you believe. A well-worded, peacefully meant post about something, or someone, that has inspired you is likely to inspire someone else, too.
For example, you could post a picture of your family and add a comment about your gratitude for eternal families. You could share a General Conference talk and briefly mention why it has spiritually uplifted you.
In sharing the gospel online, our goal should be to inspire and uplift. If you come across a trending argument, and you’d like to voice your opinion, do so in your own space (like on your profile page) and in a way that promotes questions and friendly conversation.
3. Facebook Don’t: Bash Things You Disagree with
There’s nothing more obnoxious than a belief-basher—you know, that guy (or girl) who never clearly states what he believes, because he’s too busy telling you what he definitely does not.
3 Nephi 11:29 tells us that “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” Keep this scripture in mind as you decide what to share and what not to share.
If you feel you’re on the line with anything you’d like to post, we recommend that you read Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s talk titled “Balancing Truth and Tolerance”—and, then, of course, that you share it online. *wink*
4. Facebook Do: Post Sincerely
The internet is awash with social media “personalities.” There’s the profile stalker, the proud grandma, the world traveler, the online debater. There’s that guy who’s never online, that girl who’s online too much. And all of them, of course, are #Blessed.
Do you have a social media personality? If so, what is it? And is it harming your credibility as a source of truth and light?
Make sure you’re posting things for the right reasons—especially things that are related to the gospel. If you’ve had a wonderful experience and you’d like to share it, that’s great. But make sure that you post things with the intent to uplift. No one trusts a show off (for example) whose only posts to draw attention to themselves.
5. Facebook Don’t: Overdo It
As many of you have probably learned for yourselves, it’s definitely possible to post too much. While it’s easy to believe that more posts means more followers, most of the time hogging up the News Feed just deters people from following your posts. And as a Facebook Missionary, that’s not what you want.
Try saving your posts for the things that are really worth posting about! Sure, that sandwich you ate for lunch may have been delicious, but is it really the most important thing that happened to you today? This week? The stricter you are about the quality (and quantity) of your posts, the better chance you have of drawing people in.
6. Facebook Do: Pray for Inspiration
Pray about my Facebook posts? Are you serious?
We are. There’s a reason Church leaders have encouraged us to share the gospel online; people have questions, lots of them, whether or not they share your beliefs—and social media can be an effective place to find them.
By praying for inspiration, you’re accessing a powerful source—the guidance of our Heavenly Father—which can help you to know what people need to hear. Say you’ve come across some spiritual insights lately. Chances are there’s someone else who needs to hear them too, and the Lord will tell you who those people are if you’re seeking His help.
To learn more about sharing the gospel online, read The Ultimate Guide to following Elder Bednar’s Social Media Challenge.
Have you ever had a faith-building conversation that started online?