As someone with a physical disability and special needs family, I can truly appreciate how Facebook makes it easy to personally connect with friends and family from all over. Being an introvert, I can also appreciate that I can sometimes do the connecting without the phone calls. It’s just an overall great way to stay in touch!
Lately, though, I’ve been seeing more and more people say things like “You shouldn’t post anything negative on Facebook” or little memes about sharing your problems on Facebook. I’ve seen people post a status message that they’re going to delete people who talk about their problems because Facebook “isn’t the place for it.” I beg to ask – where is the “place for it” then? Facebook personal pages are designed for just that – to be personal!
Now I’m not for overly sharing things that aren’t anybody’s business, but why should all status updates be positive? I have a lot of problems. It’s a given with special needs families. Did I mention my husband is disabled, too? Of course, we also have a lot of blessings as well! I share those, too! I find it hard to believe even people without health problems or special needs are only positive all the time. In fact, for many of us, only seeing everything positive makes it that much more “real” that we’re different.
Why should we lie, though? This is the part I’m trying to figure out – since when is it not OK to share personal posts? I know on a business page or in groups it’s not appropriate. In those situations being a positive example is definitely key, but why can’t I share both the bad and good on my personal Facebook page? I can’t always just pick up the phone and call someone. I can’t always go somewhere (or sometimes even leave my bed that day). I just want to use Facebook for what it is designed – to connect with people. I want to be able to let them know how I’m doing, what’s going on, etc. without worrying about “being negative.” Sometimes I need to vent. Sometimes I need to ask for prayers.
Yes, if someone doesn’t like it, they can just delete me like they said. I try to be in the “if you don’t like it just leave” crowd, but the truth is it hurts. It hurts that someone doesn’t understand I need connection, even if I only get it online, because I can’t leave my house. I know many special needs family that are in the same boat. It’s hard. We need support, and an online social network is often the best place to reach out for support. Sure there are groups, but it’s not the same as connecting with and feeling love from people you know personally.
Honestly, I understand, though. Not everybody understands the pressures of having a special needs family and how it can be hard to connect with others in person. Special needs families can easily feel alienated and alone. Sometimes people are going through a hard time themselves and truly need to separate themselves from the burden of supporting others. In fact, I’ve been there myself. It’s not just special needs families that need support, though, we all do from time to time!
Ultimately, though, I think that is the problem – people don’t want the “burden” of supporting others. If you’re more empathetic like myself, you can’t help but feel a burden in your heart for a person who has posted about their bad day. If you have less people posting about bad days, you don’t have to feel that way as often, right? What’s wrong with feeling burden in your heart when somebody shares something negative? God didn’t create fellowship so we could suffer in silence!
We’re called to support each other and carry the burdens of others. By saying you don’t want to see anything negative you may be sending a signal to your friends that you don’t care about their problems. Shouldn’t we care about others’ problems, though? Shouldn’t we want to help and support whenever we can? Sometimes that may be just saying a prayer, but prayer goes a long way!
So I encourage you, before you make a comment that you’re going to delete people or share a silly meme – think about the signal you’re sending to friends. Think about the signal you’re sending overall. We’re called to fellowship. We’re called to walk with others through both the good and the bad times.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2