Redeeming Social Media

There is no doubt that Social Media has revolutionized our lives. It’s right up there with the automobile, TV and the personal computer in the list of life-changing inventions.  It has shaped the way we interact and connect with other people, and for anyone born after the year 2000, it’s hard to imagine a world without Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A video posted to Youtube in Boise, Idaho can be viewed by someone across the world in Sydney Australia almost instantly. People singing into their smartphones get discovered on Youtube and rise to overnight fame. Viral videos make people instant celebrities and create exposure for unknown people who have something to say or sing, in most cases. While it can be one of the most far-reaching tools for the Gospel, we have to proceed with caution when it comes to our use of Social Media.

The more time we spend on Social Media of any kind, really strips away from the real connection we need as humans.

The good, bad and the ugly thing about Social Media is that it gives people a platform. It makes sure that you’re seen and heard. It can be a small sphere of influence like my 781 Facebook friends. This begs the question, do I really have 781 people I would consider “friends”? That doesn’t matter because I talk to them almost daily, sharing pictures and quips about my darling daughter. They comment and FB Like what I have to say. I almost hate to admit it, but their approval, in the form of a thumbs up icon, makes me feel good about myself. I’m sure  the uber-popular are sneering at my 781 person friend list. I’m a few million off from even mattering in this realm. Kim Kardashian currently has over 18 million Twitter followers. Her followers hang on to her every word, fashion choices and anxiously await her “selfies”. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have 18 million people interested in my life. Kim isn’t the only celebrity to have a captive audience. Countless Christian influencers have millions of eyes on them as well.

For anyone who is interested in serving Christ, we have to consider our use of these online resources. Social Media has not only changed the game, it has created a whole new game altogether. On one hand, it has made us into nosey, prying voyeurs who log onto FB to catch up on our friend’s gossip (oops, I meant to say  catch up on their lives). On the other, it has made us into vain, attention seekers who want everyone to look at us, like us and make positive comments about our new hair-color. The Bible warns that selfish ambition and vain conceit are to be avoided in the life of a Christian. We are to strive for humility and put others before ourselves (Phil 2:3). Social Media has made it increasingly difficult to live this out.

Aside from those issues already mentioned, the main problem I have with Social Media is that it creates a false sense of community. I can feel like I’m part of something bigger because I have 781 friends, when in reality, most of these “connections” are artificial at worst, and shallow at best. The more time we spend on Social Media of any kind, really strips away from the real connection we need as humans. Jesus was all about making connections with people. He had face-to-face interactions with people and although they were hard, they were life-changing. Consider the conversation He had with the Samaritan woman at the well. He confronted her about her “complicated” relationship status and after she repented of it, she was radically transformed. Jesus gave the people around Him the best “Applications” they could use. After being with Him, they not only understood the word of God, but they were able to apply it in a meaningful way to their own lives. Jesus taught us about real transparency among friends. Social Media is one of the best ways to hide among a crowd. Days before He faced the cross, He asked His friends to help Him through a difficult time. The people that He had invited into His “Group” of closest friends let Him down at one of His most difficult hours.

 Social Media can be one of the most powerful tools for the Gospel. There is no doubt about that. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, we will come down to where people really are and make real flesh and blood connections. Jesus left Heaven so we could have a real connection with the Father. Perhaps the best way to redeem Social Media is to disconnect from it altogether and connect with people in a real and meaningful way – the way Jesus did.

You might just see who your real friends truly are.

 

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