I have been thinking a lot about social media such as twitter and Facebook. I have now gone more than a year without being on Facebook and not even having an active account. I am often asked about this and what my thoughts are relating to it and to be honest I have said a number of things. Though I would say I do not believe that Facebook is evil or wrong, I would say that I believe it has the potential to be destructive. Now of course we know that there are many things that can be destructive but are not inherently evil, such as alcohol, sex, money, etc. Yet we still use those things. I think the more important question in relation to what we use is why we use it. The thing for me is that if I am going to use something I want to know that I have a clear “why” to it. Facebook for instance seems to me that the reason many people use it is because everyone else is using it. This is justified by statements like, “that is where my friends are” or “that is how we keep in touch” even as far as “we are closer with Facebook than anywhere else, cause people will share more personally on Facebook than they would face to face”. I am just not sure that those are legitimate reasons or that they are even entirely true (nor that this is an exhaustive list). Recently I attended the Simpson lectures at Acadia Divinity College. The research that was presented related in part to social media and it was discovered that people in the focus groups over and over stated that they believed they had closer relationships because of social media. I followed up by asking if this was even true, as we know saying we feel something is true and it actually being true are not the same thing. The answer was uncertain as the quantitative research relating to that question was not completed. Call me a skeptic but I am not certain that it is actually true.
This has all come out of a lot of conversation that Beckie and I have been having lately regarding intentionality in what we do. We don’t want to do something because it is popular, we want to do it because we see that there is clear intention and reason behind it. This relates to Facebook in the way that it can be something that sucks time away, but instead is used in a way that genuinely reflects the heart and truth of our family. That is why we exist, primarily for the Glory of Christ. If this is not the chief driving force behind why we engage in social media then it is a purposeless endeavour. Let me clarify though that I know it is fine to speak of things and mention things that we enjoy and think are humorous and the like it is important to remember that even those things reflect what we believe about God. I appreciated a book by Shane Hipps, though I do not agree with everything that he says in all places, I believe what he shared in The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture in regards to the famous statement attributed to Marshal McLuhan “The Medium is the message”. By this alone there is a distinct way in which we immediately say something about who Jesus is by saying that social media is a necessity even for the sake of the Gospel. Many times people say “we preach the same message just in a different vehicle”, however there is always a way in which the medium places things on the message and therefore in order to proclaim the same message we need to try and interpret what else the medium could be adding to the message so that we can indeed do the best we can to be faithful to the Gospel that we proclaim. It is the most important thing in existence so we should spend some time thinking through the implications of how the medium affects the Gospel.
Now before I am labeled someone who is anti social media and technology let’s be clear about a few things. I am writing this on a computer, it will in some form be posted on a blog, and anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of technology and its use. Even to the point where my physical handwriting has no doubt suffered because I write anything that I possibly can on the computer because my ability to remember where all my papers and notebooks are is sorely lacking. I also do maintain a twitter account currently and am in fact considering getting back on Facebook. I just want to be someone who intentionally asks questions of what we are doing and why we use what we do. I don’t want to be someone who uses something simply because it is available or because everyone else is on it. I want to be someone who carefully posits my motives and comes to the conclusion that I use it because it is a purposeful way to express the truth of the Gospel through proclamation in life and in voice (or type).
I have found myself even censoring myself when I consider who may or may not read something and thinking about my desire not to offend someone. Yet though I indeed want to approach things with as much Grace as possible I need to also profess truth, in love of course, but truth none the less. Faith seeking to understand is probably where I find myself at this point in my life. And that is not a typo I do not mean faith seeking understanding (though I do believe that) I mean faith seeking to understand. I want to seek first to understand things and speak with wisdom, dignity, and grace into those things. An article I read recently has made a massive impression on me huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windme… It, I believe, shows people with differing views come to a place where they disagree with dignity and grace and still show a genuine care and compassion for each other. I think grace and understanding is being sought here. What amazes me most is that in the church we don’t even do this that well. We argue and accuse and wound over secondary issues that don’t have to do with the primary essentials of the Gospel rather than seek to disagree over those issues in love and reflect Christ well in our disagreement.
I don’t know that I have made any real conclusions on anything except to say that I am asking the questions, I am seeking to understand, I am seeking to honour Christ and put any fear of man aside in light of fearing Christ and placing Him first. So I end with the verse that has been a staple here in our home for the coming year. “that in everything Christ might be preeminent” Colossians 1:18b