So you got on Facebook.  Now what?

This is not about what to share or not to share in your status about your life on Facebook.  I have some opinions about that (I personally don’t think you ought to be sharing about your therapy sessions) but I think you have to figure out for yourself what you are comfortable sharing.

I’m talking about the articles and memes (those photos with sayings that get shared on Facebook and other social media) that are all over.


I do not know why it is that the smartest people in real life will accept that just because someone has written words over or on a picture, those words are true, but people do.  But the fact is most of those sayings and stories are not true or taken out of context.

Despite polls to the contrary, (Trust in Clergy Hits Record Low) if you are a pastor or church leader most of the people who follow you will trust that what you post is trustworthy.

Therefore, YOU have a particular responsibility to be careful about what you share and repost.


There is also that Eighth Commandment thing. Unless it’s a cute kitten, you cannot just mindlessly press the share button when you see something on Facebook.

First, make sure you are acquainted with and Hoax-Slayer  and USE them.  Check EVERYTHING you hear on Facebook here first.If you read that someone famous has died, just Google the name and see if other reputable news sources are reporting it too.  There are a lot of false reports of celebrity deaths on Social Media.

If an article seems unbelievable, check the source.  There are many sites like The Onion that are parody news sites. Check before you share!

One of the most popular messages that periodically makes the rounds:


If people do what this advises all it will accomplish is make it so THEY cannot see what you post. If you don’t want people other than your friends to see your stuff, make sure your privacy settings are set to friends only. Period.  The rest of it is nonsense.  Do not contribute to more nonsense.

Other things you should not believe:


  • Bill Gates is NOT going to give you $5000 for clicking a link
  • Target is NOT giving away free gift cards
  • Triple A does NOT have a nationwide towing free towing service for drunk drivers NewYear’s Eve
  • The Pope did NOT declare all religions are true at a Vatican III.
  • President Obama did NOT declare all Christmas trees were to be called Holiday trees.
And so on and so forth.  Also, most quotes are miss attributed.  Just because the words are put by the photo of a person doesn’t mean they really said it.

Just check the facts before you share.


And while we are at it – don’t repost what I call “bully memes”. Repost this if you love Jesus, kittens or justice.
It may make you feel like a hero because you are not “afraid” or sacrificed all of 5 seconds of your life to repost but they have a bullying quality to them “You are not a good person if you don’t do this!”

They are not likely to persuade others to your point of view and in fact those “share this if you are not afraid to stand up for Jesus” are actually a turn-off  to the unchurched.

Check your facts.

Check reputable news sources.   Ask yourself if what you think is so hilarious will be funny to everyone who follows you.   Also, make sure what you are reposting has the correct spelling and grammar or your point will be lost.

 But you can always post kittens!

Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson

Director for Evangelical Mission
Northeastern Iowa Synod

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Very good observations Joelle!

  2. Kittens are why Facebook exists. See, it's *not* about us…


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


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