- Written by Andy Searles
Social Media. It’s one of those terms that a few years ago only a small number of tech savvy nerds knew what it was, but now the use of it has a pivotal effect on our world., our politics, and our opinions. Over two billion people engage on some form of social media on a regular basis… and its influence is staggering!
Social media is the primary shaper of culture; it is how people connect to their friends, the news and their
the companies that form the foundation of our economic infrastructure. Through social media people find out where they need to be, when and who they need to be with. Social media find people jobs and are responsible for people losing them. It disgraces politicians and elects presidents. It organizes birthday parties and overthrows governments. It helps people find love and it invokes mention on hundreds of thousands of divorce papers. It unites people and separates people. It makes people and it destroys people. It is both good and bad.
And that’s the tension that Christians need to manage as we try and understand this social media driven world that we live in. Some believers curse it as a device from the devil; others embrace it as a gift from God. But like many things in life, the medium is neutrally neither good nor bad, it is the message that we put into it that defines it. That is especially true of social media where the consumers of it are also the creators of it.
Listed below are three suggestions as to how believers should understand and use social media so that we can play our part to leverage this foundational societal platform for good.
1 Use Social Media to connect with people! There are two common mistakes people make with Facebook. One is to overshare information (e.g. what you had for dinner) and the other is to under share (not say anything). Facebook is a great “middle level” way to let people into your life a little more. The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about loving relationships and as Christians we are called to a relentless pursuit of relationships because they provide the context for people to come to know and grow in Jesus. Social media, when used properly, allow us to move acquaintances closer to becoming friends and tighten the bond between friends. Closer friendships advance the spread of the gospel.
2 Use Social Media to inspire, encourage and bless! As Christians, the Apostle Paul exhorts us “look not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3). Unfortunately, much of social media is filled with narrow minded narcissism as people clammer over each other to show off what they have done, where they have been, who they have been with and why we should consider them to be an awesome person. Based on Paul’s encouragement a better use of social media would be to use it to brag not on ourselves, but on others. Who is doing something that you need to celebrate? Who can you honor? What are you grateful for? Who needs some appropriate encouragement and to be honored among their, and your, peers? Honor is to be given, not grabbed. Ultimately, we should all make sure that what we post brags on God’s goodness.
3 Use Social Media to promote God honoring values. Facebook and Twitter are the new social melting pots of our society. What we put into them is what comes out of them. It is essential for Christians to input good, Christ honoring – and non-judgmental – values. We do this by affirming values we believe in, sharing concern about what we don’t and thinking through what we press the “like” and “share” buttons on. This of course, challenges us to live with greater levels of integrity to the Holy Scriptures and faithfulness before God. The last thing that Facebook needs is more hypocritical pretenders. Social media has given everyone a voice and we have a responsibility to promote good, God honoring values. If we don’t do this, no one will. We are encouraged in Psalm 45:1 to let our “hearts overflow with a pleasing theme”. The question for many is, “Do our social media forums overflow with themes that are pleasing to God?”
Social media is the medium that shapes the message to the masses. We, as consumers of it, are also the creators of what that message is. What message are you “sharing”?
Thoughts? …Tweet me J