I have to admit that one of my least favorite sermon topics is when the speaker talks about how inherently evil social media is. Reasons typically cited are how much social media distracts us from “real life,” or the amount of negativity typically being posted. While those things can be true, I simply don’t believe social media to be as evil as it is portrayed. I have been on Facebook since 2006 and have worked in social media since 2013. Since that time, I have seen just as many positive stories and outcomes because of social media as negative. I believe that social media is simply a communication tool that can be used for good or bad, depending on the user. I’ve seen social media work wonders as far as giving people a sense of community and connection. But I’ve also seen social media lend it’s hand to making people feel divided and isolated. It’s all in how you are using it. What are your posts cultivating?
I also believe that if Jesus and his 12 disciples were around today, they would absolutely be using social media! As Christians who are called to spread the good news to all nations, we simply cannot ignore social media as a powerful tool to complete our mission. That being said, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the social media basket. Social media should drive your offline actions and vice versa.
When I first started thinking about this post, I was specifically thinking about Twitter and how it is similar to the bible. For example, thanks to Twitter we now have direct lines to almost any celebrity out there. Similarly, the bible is our direct line to the biggest celebrity of all time, God!
Today a tweet can be up to 280 characters. I think where a lot of people get into trouble is trying to fit complex views into that character count. Often times a tweet is taken out of context and can be damaging. These convenient snippets are not unlike how bible verses are used today. Taken out of the context of the entire bible, while convenient, they can be damaging.
A single tweet or hashtag doesn’t hold that much weight. But a tweet or hashtag used over and over thousands of times can change the world. See #metoo or #blacklivesmatter. Just like the bible, there is power in numbers. There is power in how many Christians are using social media for good!
Recently I looked at the mission statements of a few of the biggest social media platforms and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Twitter believes in “giving every voice the power to impact the world” and “a free and global conversation.” Facebook’s mission includes building community, staying connected to others, discovering what’s going on in the world, and sharing what matters most to you. (I also recently found out that Facebook has an entire department dedicated to “faith-based partnerships” who has worked tirelessly with churches during the pandemic to help bring their services online. More about those tools here.) Instagram’s mission includes bringing us closer to each other, fostering a safe and supportive atmosphere, expressing yourself, connecting with others, and growing your community globally. With goals like that right there in their missions, I must plead my case again that social media is not inherently evil! We have been given a powerful tool and it is our responsibility to use it to cultivate virtue.
This month, I want to issue two challenges my readers. First, I challenge you to only use social media for good. Before you post, ask yourself if your post would lead to unity or division? Second, I challenge you to send me any article or example of social media being used for good. I will then share those with everyone on my Facebook page.
Ready, set, go!
Hugs to all,