I’m thankful for the internet. I leaped on that thing the minute it was invented! I’ve been an Amazon customer for 20 years. I’ve had the same email address for almost 20 years. Recently I was looking at my Flickr account, it’s ten years old. I have over 1500 photos there. I can’t believe so much time has passed. I’ve been blogging for ten years. I started word processing on a computer with Windows 3.1 in 1997. This was a big deal to a writer used to carbon, typewriter ribbon and whiteout.
I know we complain about how the internet is a vast wasteland, as Newton Minow famously said in 1961 of the then new technology of television. New technology always degrades because the unsaved human always degrades. But the opportunities today via the world wide web to get the Gospel out, to hear long lost sermons, archived books like Pilgrim’s Progress on CCEL, is truly astonishing, says this lady who was an adult before the internet was invented.
I know that Social Media oftentimes is not social, especially if you have a conservative or evangelical point of view. Warning about false teachers, presenting the Gospel, sharing Bible verses makes people angry. If you need to limit your time on social media so as to stay encouraged, positive, and joyful, then do so.
But the technology itself is tremendously encouraging to me. I enjoy listening to music from a streaming local Christian radio station, or Pandora. I enjoy hearing sermons on RefNet.fm or Expositor.fm. I love reading the classics or getting access to posted dissertations, papers, and theological material otherwise I’d never see. Youtube’s plethora of clips and sermons is amazing, not to mention archives of long-gone but not forgotten preachers like Martyn Lloyd Jones, S. Lewis Johnson, James Montgomery Boice and Donald Grey Barnhouse… Never mind that last week was the annual Shepherds’ Conference sponsored by Grace Community Church, where 4500 pastors from around the world come to hear biblical preaching, enjoy fellowship, be encouraged, and be served- and it was live streamed and recorded for posterity.
The capacity for us to dwell on the negative is human. It’s always present. If you are having bad experiences online, it’s human nature to let those dominate your thinking and color your perspective. I use filters on Twitter to exclude certain words. I’m not shy about muting certain people. On Facebook, I use F.B. Purity, a free app that lets me exclude certain words, and arrange my wall to limit ads, crass headlines, and other things I don’t want to see. On my blog, I delete comments that tout false doctrine or are simply ad hominem- and I don’t think twice about it. If I say something that ticks someone off because of the Gospel, I reply once or maybe twice, and then end it there if the conversation isn’t going anywhere. I don’t fight. I don’t read sites that fight. I use social media to contend, but not to fight.
Use any and all means available to tailor what you need to tailor on social media so as to keep your sanity and your positive attitude.
But, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Retain a wonder and a gratitude for this amazing vehicle called the world wide web. Use it to be an example of His kindness, and use it to promote His name and His gospel. 🙂 Jesus gave us His peace:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27).