Social media is wonderful in many ways. It allows us to connect more easily to people in more places and from different times in our lives. I now have people from my high school and Navy days that I can inexpensively keep in touch with. However, there are some risky drawbacks that we should consider.
It isn’t difficult to know that gossip is not a proper action regardless of whether someone is Christian or not. Often, it is harmful and often it is untrue. It used to be that gossip was localized. If someone told a lie about so-and-so sleeping with so-and-so, no one from five states away was likely to hear about it. This is no longer true. If I Twitter about someone behind their back I may be surprised to find out how far and how fast the tweet gets around.
So, I’ve established some rules for myself that feel to me like the Spirit working in me regarding social media. One is that I’m going to make an extreme effort not to disrespect people with social media. Sometimes, even when we think we’re being sneaky by not using their names, it’s painfully obvious who we’re talking about. So, I’ll just try to avoid this scenario. Basically, if I wouldn’t say it in a crowd or to their face, I hope I won’t say it in a blog or on a tweet.
However, the major purpose of this blog is to enter into theological debate in a constructive and respectful way. So, one might ask if I’m being hypocritical when I post on the views of a theologian. To me, it seems perfectly reasonable to calmly state, “I disagree with Borg’s theology here for these reasons…” However, to call him an idiot publicly isn’t necessary and could give the wrong impression to non-Christians; something I’m trying to avoid as much as possible in my daily life.
What ever happened to the tactful strategy of asking loaded questions when we disagree with someone? Doesn’t it give a better impression to ask, “What do you do with this text when you claim…” I appear more open to the possibility that I could be wrong, I may learn more information about another’s view, and I still accomplish my goal of challenging their view. Do we always have to immediately fire back as though we’re on the offense rather than sit back and strategize?
Finally, social media has the power to destroy or to build community. If we let it rule our lives, we’ll shut ourselves in our living room prison and never engage in face-to-face interaction with others. Or, we can let social media be a conduit to building community the way God intended. We can meet Christians, non-Christians, people who are asking the tough questions, people of other colors, etc. that we may have never met without this great new tool.
I’ve found it’s easy to seek out people who are just like me via social media. I’ve also found that I can connect with people very different from me and begin the process of learning about them and myself. I’m choosing to intentionally reach out to many types of people through social media in hopes that I build the kind of social network that will some day be reflected on God’s new Earth.
For some reason, we threw out the idea of taking all our thoughts captive to Christ when Twitter came around. All sorts of things we would have never spoken before we now tweet impulsively. The things we used to whisper in private we now post for the world to see. Don’t get me wrong, I love Titter and Facebook, etc. However, I’m hoping to use them in the same love I try to exemplify in my non-virtual life.
I can’t wait for your comments.
P.S. For information on participating in our dialogue group, click on the “Become A Participant” tab and tell us if you’d like to join us in person or via the web. We’d love to be in community with you!