Shields Up: Edging Back Into Social Media

For years I’ve dabbled in various social media platforms… but I’ve always been wary. That’s because, as a computer programmer, I’ve been keenly aware since day one of the risks involved in trusting my fellow programmers.

If you met enough programmers in person, I bet you wouldn’t automatically trust them either. Not to say they are bad people. But you’d never risk exposing your potentially very vulnerable self to them — not until they had thoroughly earned your trust.

The key word in that last sentence is “vulnerable.” On social media, it’s imperative that we protect our hearts and minds. For some, e.g., my husband of 47 years, doing this is instinctive and thus they aren’t at risk. But I’m not among them, and I know I’m far from alone.

With eyes wide open, two weeks ago I went back into social media for the first time in five years. That’s because I feel the call to be an “upstander” — “to communicate online with compassion, consume news with compassion and click with compassion.”

To pull this off I have two simple strategies. I need simple. Otherwise I’ll forget.

1. Don Mental Armor

When signing on, it’s time to get my “shields up” — to protect that vulnerable self, to channel my inner captain.

2. Watch My Attitude

If I can go lightly (i.e., with a light heart), it’s full blaze ahead. This means not taking either myself or the petabytes of messages too seriously.

As soon as I feel heaviness, it’s time to back off — way off. If that heaviness persists over time, it’s time to deactivate. Life is too short to shoulder such burdens. There are other vastly safer ways to connect.


I hope this might be helpful to some of you, particularly those who have been terribly hurt by social media. That said, this is just my approach. Take it lightly.