Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Moving Line of Appropriateness

Recently I listened to a speaker in a church meeting (LDS Stake Conference) talk about the moving line of appropriate versus inappropriate viewing of media. This is something I've been concerned about for some time.  It used to be that you could avoid inappropriateness by not viewing "R" rated movies.  Now even PG-13 movies often have inappropriate dialog.  Television is a plethora of violence, vulgarity, and inappropriate use of the Lord's name.  Social media is rampant with vulgarity.

There is a terrible dilemma for those of us who want to be part of social media.  We are encouraged by leaders of the church to be involved in social media.  There is a ton of missionary work that is being done via social media, and I've been proud to play a tiny role in that effort the last few years.  In the process, we open ourselves up to viewing things we don't want to see, and reading words we don't want to read.  It is difficult to know where to draw the line.

My standard procedure with inappropriateness via social media has been to ignore it the first time (anyone can have a bad day), gently warn the person the second time, and uncircle, unfollow, and/or hide friendship the third time.  I'm sad about that.  If I were to have followed my own guidelines recently, I would have cut off contact with someone, but for some strange reason, I didn't follow those guidelines.  Last week I had a missionary experience with the offender.  So it brings the question to my mind again, "Where do I draw the line?"

I can testify to the fact that reading inappropriate words via social media does have an affect on you.  I was sound asleep the other night, and I woke up with a start because in my dream I was yelling at someone and used the most vulgar of words--in my sleep.

If you thought this blog post was going to give you answers as to where to draw the line, you were mistaken.  I don't know the answer.  It is something that I'm going to have to pray about earnestly.  On-line missionary work is very important, and it is very effective--but at what cost?  We have all talked about the moral decay of society and the importance of getting it back on track. How do we do that if we are not willing to roll up our sleeves and get dirty working in the trenches?  If we are willing to walk through the sewer, how do we keep ourselves spotless before the Lord?

I would welcome any suggestions you might have, or any comments, as I study this out in my mind and pray about it.


  1. As I read your post, this verse of a personal favorite hymn came to mind:

    Let the Holy Spirit guard;
    Let his whisper govern choice.
    He will lead us safely home
    If we listen to his voice.

    I've faced this dilemma occasionally in my social media interactions. To be honest, I have been gently prodded by to "unfriend", "unsubscribe" and even block people that I dearly love.

    I'm an adult convert and my world is full of people who do NOT live by Christian (or LDS) standards. Most are aware of my standards and would not intentionally, personally violate. However, I have been privy to conversations that offend my spirit but did not involve me. In those cases, I pray for inspiration. I have followed and long appreciated the answers.

    Great post - quite timely and very appropriate.

  2. Sharon, thanks for your comments. I appreciate that.

  3. I am constantly at odds with movie ratings. Mostly because the MPAA has ZERO set guidelines for any rating. And if you live over seas, the ratings are completely different, especially TV. I agree with the 3 strike rule, but I also view it a little different.

    I almost view it as my friends who drink or smoke. I don't do it, I don't join in, and I let my kids know that what they are doing is harmful. But I don't ignore them or abandon them because we have a different view of life. What I hope is that if I am myself around them, they will see my example and either be curious or respectful. And I find that after a year or so, none of my 'other' friends ever post or share anything obscene on my boards or walls.

    It's a tricky path, and like you said, no real guidelines. Great post!

  4. Thanks, Dean. I hadn't thought about comparing it with my smoking friends, but that's a good way to look at it. My parents were smokers, and I let them smoke in my home when they came to visit. They were respectful enough to sit by a window and open it when they lit up. I would never have banned them from their grandchildren because of the tobacco habit. Great comparison for me to think about. Thank you.