Social media is a good thing—right?
After all, people share their recent meals or haircuts—or yes, even pictures of their favorite pets. Who doesn’t enjoy a gazillion photos of Fluffy or Whiskers?
I can post a meaningful blog about a life-changing experience, and it might render 11 likes. But put a photo of Fido riding a lawn mower, and it warrants 7,982 thumbs-ups.
These are the fun aspects of Facebook and Twitter and the dozens of other apps out there. But with the good comes the bad.
Temptation and seedy invitations in moments of weakness can not only damage a reputation but can ruin a career and even a life.
Cyberbullying is an ongoing problem, and hackers can find their way onto your pages and cause major problems. Thieves try to steal your identity through social media, and sexual opportunities abound.
Avery Johnson makes it a point to tell his basketball players at Alabama to be on guard against cyber-temptations.
“We used to talk to them about drinking and about being around girls,” he said. “But now, it’s all about handling social media and trying to turn something that could be a negative into a positive.”
Social media does have its cynical attractions. There are sites and issues to avoid, such as posting compromising pictures of yourself or humiliating people who have different opinions than you do.
Avery, who played and coached in the NBA for 16 years, sends home the message with his players to be positive with the tool.
“We want them to use it and be encouraging and give back to the community,” he said. “Share your faith on there and build your resume that way for people to see.”
Many professional athletes are transparent on their Twitter pages. For example. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge states the following on his profile: “Christian, Faith, Family, then Baseball.” Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins has a similar description: “A lover of Jesus playing baseball for the Minnesota Twins on the side.” And finally, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vinny Rey lists his priorities as “Christian. Husband. Father. Linebacker.”
“The Little General,” who won an NBA Title playing for the Spurs in 1999 and was named NBA Coach of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, emphasizes a way to make a brand for yourself on social media.
“What do you want to be known for?” he said to me at a private reception before the Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast hosted by Athletes in Action during the 2018 Final Four Weekend. “We ask our players that and emphasize and encourage them to be positive with social media.”
Excellent advice: Let followers know your stance and be leery of traps.
Remember the Sunday School song, O Be Careful Little Eyes, and how simple it was to understand? Even today, it holds a powerful message. And Slow Fade by Casting Crowns warns against the same dangers Avery spoke about. If his players are not careful and do not depend on a group of men to hold them accountable, they can easily fall into a trap set by Satan.
The Best Thing I Learned from Avery Johnson: I am a newcomer to the social media world and still have plenty to learn. But I recognize there are people who want to lure you into their schemes. At times I find things on my site and I have no idea how they got there. Technology can be used as a snare by the devil, so I must be vigilant yet open to new things at the same time.
Avery told me he didn’t face the temptations of social media when he played simply because it had not yet been invented when he was on the hardwood. But he knows it’s a real concern for college players today. I learned to surround myself with good people who will have my back and hold me responsible. Mistakes can be made on social media, but your guard must be up at all times. Post things that encourage or inspire. And yes, an occasional post of Fido is good once in a while!
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26: 41).