As staff reviewed our Rules and Guidelines related to our congregations’ social media presence this week, our congregational theme for the year came to mind: “Becoming the Community We Want to Be: Barriers, Boundaries and Belonging.”
Our conversation centered on the opportunities, challenges, and emotional complexities of Facebook. If you participate in the world of Facebook you know that from the moment you sign in, you’ll be greeted by a cascade of pictures, opinions, and opportunities. Within seconds, you can catch a glimpse of your high school lab partner baking cookies with her grandchild, discover a hard-hitting and insightful news article you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, scan a tirade of social and political vitriol from a relative or head down a rabbit hole of music videos from the 1980s you’re amazed you never saw.
Within a few moments on Facebook, a world of heightened emotions and strong opinions collides with whatever is going on in our inner world.
At its best, Facebook creates a vast web of belonging among people who would not keep in touch or find one another otherwise. Facebook can be a place where we remember viscerally that we are not alone, a place where we can feel seen and held by people who care about us. This experience means even more during this pandemic.
In the midst of our discussion, our Minister, Jay Leach shared the depth of gratitude he felt after posting updates about his recent health challenges on our member page. Comment after comment, members showered him with love, support and concern. Even on the nights when the pain was worst following his surgery, Jay felt held by this loving community. When he shared the good news that his cancer had not spread, we were able to celebrate with one another showing a communal outpouring of relief, support and rejoicing because of our frequent communal use of our member Facebook page.
At its worst, Facebook creates a barrier between our humanity and the humanity of others allowing us to lash out and call out in a way we wouldn’t face to face.
We’ve also seen for ourselves and heard from our members that our own closed member-page can be a place where we get hooked and before we know it respond without compassion to one another, leaving others in our community hurt and less safe in that space.
Mindful that Facebook is a space full of possibility for connecting, learning and experiencing belonging, we wish to bring attention to the boundaries we’ve drawn as a staff in an effort to make our member Facebook page a space in which our members can get to know one another better, support one another in times of joy and struggle, engage in meaningful dialogue and debate, as well as learn more about what’s going on at the UUCC.
By defining these boundaries we hope to call one another to our better selves and utilize our member Facebook page in a way that honors the values we hold most dear as a spiritual community.
Facebook Closed Group for UUCC Members: Rules and Guidelines
The UUCC Members Facebook Group is our congregation’s social media tool for members’ online dialogue and information sharing. It serves current members who apply and agree to group posting rules.
- It promotes community building, inspiration and announcements not typically shared on our public Facebook page or website.
- It provides opportunities for online dialogue on social and environmental issues of concern to the members.
- It provides a protected and supportive forum for the discussion of spirituality and religion.
- It encourages positive social interaction within the congregation by allowing members with common interests another way to identify one another and connect.
- Although UUCC staff may participate, it is intended primarily for member-to-member communication. Please use other means to communicate with UUCC staff!
Rules and Guidelines
In addition to the Universal Social Media Policies, the following rules apply to posting content on the UUCC Members Facebook Group:
- Group administrators have the authority to delete posts and remove members who do not abide by the rules.
- No posts promoting fundraising, business solicitation, political parties or candidates are allowed.
- Posts should be respectful and in keeping with UU principles and the UUCC’s vision, mission and ends.
- Posters should seek positive interactions that increase bonds and community rather than encouraging division among us.
- Photos of children must be approved by CYRE staff before posting unless the child/children in the photo is posted by their parent/guardian.
- Children cannot be identified by name in a post.
- Anyone posting to the UUCC Members Facebook Group is encouraged to use original photos of our members and events.
- Members should limit their posts to two or three a week so that a few voices are not dominating the page. Comments to posts can be unlimited in number as long as they are in keeping with the guidelines spelled out above.