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Post for teens: Sharing pictures - preventing regrets - Ruth Chesney
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Post for teens: Sharing pictures – preventing regrets

Olivia giggled as she looked at the picture she’d just taken of herself. This was a photo that just had to go on Snapchat. Maybe it was a bit crazy, and she certainly hoped some of the other people at school wouldn’t see it, but sure it would only be there for a little while and then it would disappear. The only ones who would see it would be her friends.

The next morning, a group of boys clustering at the back of the classroom looked up and elbowed each other as she came through the door. As they laughed, she could see they were gathered around a phone which had a picture on the screen. A picture which looked suspiciously like the one she had snapchatted last night. Her heart sunk to her toes. She felt sick. She’d known Zara had taken a screenshot, but she really didn’t think she’d send it to other people. Now everyone would see it! And that photo would be around forever…

In the last post for teens we talked about sharing secrets. In this post, it’s sharing pictures. Technology has progressed a great deal from the formal black-and-white studio portraits of Victorian times. Your parents may have had their own cameras, but they could only take 24 photos before they had to drop the film off at the chemist’s shop to be developed. Next came the digital camera, where we could take almost as many pictures as we liked but had to connect it to a computer before we could email pictures to friends. And now we are able to pull out our phone, snap a picture and share it with hundreds of people within a few seconds! Amazing!

With great technology comes great danger. And what do you do when there is danger around? When little kids are being taught how to cross the road, the first thing they’re told to do is stop.

It’s the same with social media. Before you send that picture into the wonderful world of Instagram or Snapchat, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Why am I sharing this picture? Answer honestly! Within all of us is the desire to be liked and admired. Social media fits dangerously into these desires. How else could we have so many people telling us, either by words, or by little heart symbols, that we have something praiseworthy about us? Some may even post pictures of sad times and share things which aren’t so happy just to gain sympathy and attention. Either way, we like to be the centre of our universe, to feel important and valued. But is this right? Philippians 2:3 has the answer! ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit…’ Or am I sharing this picture so I’ll fit in? Everyone else is posting pictures like this, and we want to be like everyone else. But look at what Romans 12:2 says – ‘Do not be conformed to this world…’

 

  • Do you really want everyone to see this picture? Like Olivia, you might think that it’s only going to be your friends who will see it. But take a moment to think about the other ways this photo could get out there – maybe by a screenshot, or by one of your friends showing it to someone else. There may even be people who you have forgotten are on your friends list. Is this a photo you’d be happy with everyone seeing? If not, don’t post it. Does this photo reflect who you really are? Or is it only an image of who you are pretending to be? Is this what you want to be remembered for?

 

  • Finally, is someone forcing you to post or share something, either publicly or privately? Maybe one of your friends is encouraging you to post something you don’t feel comfortable sharing. Or, even more seriously, is someone blackmailing or bribing you? Do not post anything you don’t want to, no matter how much you are urged to do so. It’s your reputation and testimony on the line, not the other person’s, not to mention the fact that blackmail is illegal. You must find a reliable person to talk to, preferably someone over eighteen – maybe someone in your home, extended family, school, or church – who will give you wise advice and help to support you through the situation. Not everything should be photographed, and not every photo should be uploaded.

 

Not everything needs to be shared. And while it’s nice to have a few pictures to help us recall the memories of happy times and special occasions, it would be an awful tragedy to only experience life through the few square inches of our phone screens. Take a couple of pictures, then put the phone away and look around you! Soak up the atmosphere – those things that can’t be captured in a picture. Don’t just record memories, make them instead!

After all, I think you’d agree – sharing pictures is overrated!


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