Redeeming Social Media

A week ago today I had the opportunity to talk to 30 college students about ‘How to Redeem Social Media’, and so I figured I’d share with you some of the things that I learned in the process of preparing for this discussion. Below are my notes, I really hope that they challenge you to use Social Networking in a different light:

1. The opposite of nearly every positive influence social media has is a negative influence on us.

Some examples of this are:

Pros                                   Cons
Real-time                         Impatience
Organization                    Time waster
Sharing                            Over-sharing
Transparency                  Lack of Privacy
Get to know people         People are less like people
Accountability                  Temptation
Proclaiming Truth            Advancing Lies
Showing Ourselves          Creating a facade
Talk to people                  Lack of Presence
Encouragement               Bullying/Gossip
Information                      Anyone can say anything

We need to be aware that, often times, not only do the things that benefit us reside in our social networks, but the things that hinder us as well. So as we use it may we recognize the the positives and negative influences Social Media has on us.

2. There is no formula for redeeming social media. It is all about how you choose to use it and how you inspire others to use it.

A lot of times we think that everything has a formula. We think if we just go follow a couple of points we will get everything right, but the more I looked at social media the more I saw that it affects us all differently. The things that affect me negatively about social media may not affect you in the same way. We all have our struggles and challenges. If this is the case then I believe the best way to redeem social media is to go back to the first observation. We must understand how social media affects us positively and negatively to figure out how we can personally redeem the medium. Which leads me to my next observation:

3. We all need a direction when we use social media. We need to view it through a redemptive lens. 

One of my biggest problems with social media is I’ve always gone on it just to go on, to veg out, or to unwind. I never had any direction. Over the past few months, however, I decided to be more intentional about it. I decided to make sure I move in one direction or another. I got a twitter, and this blog with the purpose of inspiring others (and nothing else) and decided to use facebook simply to connect with people – though I still do post strange stuff every so often. When I found myself getting off track, or taking a different direction I would simply go offline. This took a lot of discipline, but I’ve grown so much from this change of perspective. Social media is no longer an outlet for boredom or temptation, but a place where I can be redemptive. This all starts with a direction; a lens through which to view social media.

Here are some directions to focus on: 
– Unity – How can we use social media to unify the church (John 17:23; Philippians 2:1-4)
– Proclamation – How can we proclaim Christ clearly through social media (John 17:23b; 1 Peter 4:12-19)
– Presence – How can we engage people not distance ourselves from people through social media (John 17:15-17; 22-23)
– Worship – How do we worship through social media (Ephesians 2:10; Collisions  3:1-4; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

4. When we use social media we need to define our message. 

Social media is a breading ground for falsehood and confusion, and one of the best ways to redeem social media is to clearly define our message. If we were clear as to who we are and what we believed then wouldn’t that change the way in which we used facebook, twitter, youtube, ect? If using social media proclaimed that we really believed Jesus is who he said he is, and in what he called us to be wouldn’t that change how people see us? Wouldn’t that change our conversations and how we interact with people online?

 We all need to be clear in our message of who we are, and what we believe or social media will hinder, not strengthen, our relationships with others. This requires some vulnerability, but God calls us to reach out into peoples lives. If we aren’t open and honest about ourselves how do we ever expect people to let us into their lives?  (This doesn’t mean we share everything about ourselves on facebook – there are things that should not be shared online or with the public – but maybe its time to take more risks in sharing who we really are with people Christ can impact through us).

5. Often times we become dualistic in nature when it comes to social media. 

I’ve seen Christians immersed in social media, as if it is their best friend, and then all of the sudden they see it as an inherent evil. What happens then is a huge pendulum shift. One moment we are all about social media and then the next we are all against it. I commonly see this when people (including myself) do ‘facebook fasts’, but as I think about this I wonder if it would be healthier to simply balance how we use social media. Wouldn’t it be healthier to simply balance better when we use it and when we take time away from it? This keeps redemptive relationships active and allows me to learn both patience and self-control on a whole new level. Plus, if we learned to balance our lives better we would not have this problem with dualistic social media.

I hope that this has been helpful to you as you seek to be more redemptive in how you engage social media and others through it. May we all seek to glorify Christ through all we do, and really be who He calls us to be in all we do, say, think and become.

What are your thoughts on redeeming social media?


About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

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