Do you feel trapped by social media? Does it make you sad, or anxious? Do you waste time? Many people say yes to all of the above.
I like social media. I have an account at Pinterest, Twitter, 2 Facebook pages- (a theological page and a personal page), two blogs (one theological and one personal) and an Instagram. My personal blog is 11 years old, my theological blog is 9 years old. I have 4,325 essays at my theological blog.
I am also on GroupMe, a mass group text messaging service. LOL I obtained my very first cell phone last month, solely for the purposes of calling AAA when my car breaks down (and is always does) and to receive church messages. I have photo accounts at Flickr and Unsplash. My account at Flickr is 11 years old and I have 1,936 pictures there. Unsplash is newer. I joined when it began, three years ago.
So you can see that I enjoy social media, to say the least. But then again, I have a lot of time, being unmarried without children. I like to stay-at-home and use the internet for witnessing in discrete and selective quantities. (I also attend church, go to small groups, disciple, and witness in real life, to be clear.) I also use it for my entertainment, having no television.
I’m old enough to remember when the internet didn’t exist, and it was hard to get your message out. I mean in that era when I was unsaved, my message was my secular writing. It was hard to break the gates of publishing in the 80s and 90s. So when self-publishing on blogs and such came along in the 2000s, I was thrilled. No gatekeepers except my conscience.
Being unsaved for most of my early adult life, until age 43, I didn’t have a Jesus message to share. But now that there are so many venues to share about Him and learn about Him from others’ social media pages, I enjoy using it all for that purpose. I like being able to get the message itself out more widely. Therefore, I have a goal, to use social media as a platform to share the beauty and truth of Jesus Christ. I use it to encourage, exhort, teach, and edify. I use it to learn from others.
Even then, I still have to limit my use of it. Temptations abound! I think long and hard about who I am going to ‘Follow’ or ‘Friend’. I do not want excessively negative things passing before my eyes. I liked when FB implemented an option to mute friends, that is, not to unfollow them but to not see their posts. I don’t like to see continual political posts. I won’t look at abortion photos. I won’t follow someone rambunctious or rebellious. Constant ‘woe is me’ pity parties get a mute.
As for my ministries, I also work to get the me-centeredness out of my fingers typing, and stick with my goal and plans: focus on saying something scriptural, something positive about Jesus, and something encouraging to my friends and church members every day. If I don’t, what is the point of all these social media accounts?
Still with all that social media can be very depressing. Often, it displays the worst of man, unsaved and saved. Here are four essays that I hope will help bring perspective and encouragement regarding social media.
Social media requires a different kind of brain work than does sitting for long periods with a book. Personally I think the two kinds of reading are at odds. I strive to maintain the ‘book reading’ skills I’d taken for granted most of my life. I do feel a negative impact in this area from social media use. So does Michael Harris:
I have forgotten how to read
For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong
Some people take long breaks from social media, or take the drastic step of abandoning it altogether. Here, Aaron Armstrong has some tips for using (or not using):
This weekend, my wife and I spent a great deal of time talking about social media—specifically how she responds to it. For a few years she was on Facebook, up until a particularly negative incident led her to abandon it.
In the old Bulletin Bard days (with 300 baud, remember that? lol) something called “flame wars” would erupt. That’s just internet lingo for people fighting online. Arguments are easier online because we forget there are actual people on the other side of the screen. Somewhere. Flame wars ignite on Twitter, Facebook…anywhere there are people. Here, Michael Coughlin reminds us at Things Above Us that
Everyone you meet is made in the image of God. Thus, each person you encounter has a level of dignity because of his or her Creator, and you are responsible to treat folks with respect as a consequence of this fact.
I was a journalist for almost 6 years. I hunted stories, dug up stores, investigated, published. Of course, a reporter is driven to get the story first. That drive still ignites me when a major even happens, but as a Christian, even a Christian ex-reporter/now-blogger needs to hold back and ‘consider these things’ first. And pray. When everyone is jumping on the bandwagon is takes maturity, patience, and wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak. Not everyone needs to know my opinion. But then again, if we have some insight that might help a local body, then by all means publish. The wisdom is to know which to do when. Chris Martin has a few ideas for us.
I made a concerted effort to stay off of social media most of this past weekend because I was already a bit exhausted at a lot of the response I was seeing to the tragedy last Wednesday. … I should say before I continue, what follows are my opinions. These suggestions are not stone-cold social media sins. So, take them as you will. Here are three ways NOT to use social media immediately following a tragedy: