Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lessons Learned from Social Networking

When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19 HCSB)

Yesterday I had a lapse of judgment and created a Twitter Account. Twitter seemed pretty daunting to me with all the pound signs, RT this, @ that, etc. Plus, I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that I need another social networking outlet like I need a hole in my head as my Nan affectionately says.  There are already some aspects about it that I appreciate more than Facebook, but that's a different blog post for a different day.

When I was in high school, our English teacher, Mr. Cooper, would always have a minimum word count for our papers. I think it was usually somewhere around 500 unless it was a research paper. I'll never forget the first time he told us this requirement for the first paper that we ever wrote for him. While most of the class was moaning and groaning trying to figure out how they would come up with 500 words to write about "Bartleby, the Scrivener." I, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction. My initial thought was, "OK, but is there a maximum word limit?" I'll never forget his response to my question: "Carter (he called us all by our last names), you can write as many words as you need to complete your five-paragraph theme paper requirements. Just remember, the more words you write, the more opportunities you have to make a mistake. A mistake on the last page of your paper will count against you just as much as a mistake in your first paragraph. If word #967 is misspelled, it will still count against you as much as it would if it were word #2. I won't stop counting mistakes against you once you've reached the 500 word minimum requirement." 

Well, ain't that just the truth! And the applications in other areas of our life are just about endless! 

I am a social being. I love finding out that people I know enjoy the same social networking outlets that I enjoy so that I can communicate with them. My Hubs, on the other hand, would love nothing more than to walk into his office at work in the morning and not come out or talk to anyone until it's time to leave in the afternoon. We are different, and that is perfectly OK. He told me the other day he'd rather get a root canal with no Novocain than have any sort of social networking account. For better or worse, opposites attract, and all that trash, right? 

Here's the funny thing about Twitter. 140 characters...that's it. I have a hard time limiting myself to 140 WORDS, much less characters. I was pretty excited awhile ago when Facebook expanded the amount of text that you can post in a status update. Not only am I social creature, but I'm a wordy one at that. I have this innate need to use as many words as possible to explain my thoughts and actions or a significant event or story. When I first created my Facebook account, I naively and immaturely would post every thought I had, every political opinion I hold, every single funny thing my kids did, etc. If I disagreed with something that someone else had posted, I would foolishly always respond. If I was having a bad day, I would lay all my feelings, thoughts, emotions out there for the entire Facebook world to see.  Real grown up, I know... (If you're my Facebook friend, you might be thinking, "Courtney, you still do that. What do you mean that you did do that?" No, really, I've learned to censor myself...I'm thankful that you don't hear the mess I keep to myself. :) There are a lot of status updates that I regret posting, texts I regret sending, comments I regret making, etc., because in a moment of impulsive reaction, I felt justified in thinking, writing, or publishing whatever I'd said. Don't get me wrong, I do think that there are appropriate times when you should defend a conviction that you hold dear or that you should respond critically to people's posts in constructive ways, but I was going way overboard in true Courtney Wilcox fashion. 

Over the past few years, God has really impressed upon my heart to be more deliberate, intentional, and choosy with my words. I don't have to "bite the bait" every time it dangles in front of my face. I don't have to respond to every single post that could potentially apply to me, that I might possibly disagree with, or that might involve someone or something that is dear to me. This would even apply to texting and emails. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words (or printed text). I also don't have to post every single controversial thing in my head with the intentions of inciting a disagreement whether political, personal, spiritual, etc. 

I know that this next statement will be like saying that a circle is circular, but I've come to appreciate the wisdom found in Proverbs a lot more as an adult. Solomon was so wise because he actually prayed for wisdom. When Solomon said that when words are plentiful, sin is not absent, he was very likely writing that specifically for Courtney Wilcox. To me it reads, "Shut up, Courtney, and you won't get yourself into trouble. You don't have to respond or take the bait or over-explain yourself every.single.time."

While I've learned a lot about how to use my words more deliberately and intentionally and not so impulsively, I still have so much more to learn, but I'm thankful that God isn't finished with me yet and hasn't given up on me. I'm so thankful that my friends haven't given up on me either and graciously haven't "unfriended" me or anything scandalous like that while I continue to grow toward social networking spiritual maturity. :) 

Hopefully I won't manage to screw up and tweet something I'll later regret when I only have 140 characters to use. (And yes, my initial thought was, "Oh no, does that include spaces?" :) Hehehe.)


The Jackson Five...make that 6! said...

Well said!

Tony said...

Good thing blogs don't limit your word count. :) j/k

Beth said...

Yay! You finally updated! You have alot of catching up to do on our blog challenge so you can re-direct your stories and opinions over here. Well said, though - Love what your teacher said... and Solomon too. I'm working on this too.

MommyWilcox said...

Tony, good thing you can't read my mind right now. :) I knew that if the comment was gonna appear, it was gonna come from you, so I'm thankful that's outta the way.

Beth, I'm sorry that I've failed at the blog challenge I initiated! Will try to do better though!

Isaac said...

you should link your twitter to post to your fb account so that you don't have to post lengthy updates there. Not a burn, just saying it is what I do.

Welcome to twitter, follow me!