Social media: fight or flee?

Social media is a double-edged sword - we have so many opportunities to speak, but so few opportunities to be heard. I’m a millennial working in communications, and social media perplexes me as a Christian. It’s been on my mind lately, and Vince Vitale’s recent YouTube video got me awonderin’.

  1. What are social media examples you have seen of someone sacrificing themselves to show both love and truth online?
  2. WWJD[SM] - What would Jesus do … with social media? :slight_smile: Jesus is God’s Son, but He also chose to walk with us humans here on earth. What are practical ways you are are deliberate in being a member of social media communities while still shining His light?
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Hey Brittany I appreciate this question you posed as it has been a very recent and relevant topic that I’ve had to answer with other people. Now I’m not in the greatest position for this topic because I chose to get out of all social media a few years ago but I cant imagine it has improved since then.
However recently The Colson Center had one of their daily Breakpoint episodes on this topic. The focus was on the very apparent lack of civility and the tendency to incite rage and discord at every turn on social media. John Stonestreet cited a Senate hearing including Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist with Google and co-founder of The Center for Humane Technology, giving a testimony on social media. His statement included a line where he called social platforms “outrage amplifiers” which he claimed wasn’t a flaw but part of the design. He goes on to say this can be seen in one instance by the improvement of followers on twitter by as much as 17% with every outraged word used in a tweet.
Another example is what has come to be known as the “call-out culture” which compels and encourages the complete social destruction of individuals if there is a hint of injustice or perceived offense against mainstream causes such as the LGBT movement.
All this to say I think if our calling is to communicate The Gospel in a intelligent and loving manner than using a platform that is designed to misunderstand and encourage mob mentality instead of rational discussion, is working harder not smarter in my opinion. Not to mention according to Arthur Brooks the economist, only 22% of American adults are on twitter and 88% of tweets come from just 10% of those people giving a round percentage of just 2.2% of the population on that platform. I’m guessing the numbers are probably higher on Facebook but probably active amount of people I would guess are about the same.
I"m reminded by one of Ravi’s talks where he says that there are no “mass movements”. He clarifies by saying that at the heart of any great revival is either a handful of people or one person who hears God’s voice and follows His will.
There is no easy way out of this, we"re going to have to live around and among those who’s lives we seek to change.

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Sorry for the long answer!

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Oh, I thank you for your long answer; social media is a complex subject! Thank you very much.

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Do you still use the telephone? Write someone a note on a sticky note? The medium of social media isn’t the problem – it just enables us to see a problem that already existed (just like someone could be a poopoohead on the telephone). It may or may not be where every Christian should be (not all are writers, speakers, teachers, prophets, evangelists, whatever), but the problem isn’t the medium, IMHO.

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Hmm, there are so many interesting directions this could go. I see two right off the bat - social media vs. non-social media. But I wonder if there is a deeper thread here?

I have heard of ministries searching out keywords for people struggling to share Christian love around heavy topics, such as mental health. Some churches deploy volunteers to message followers of their Facebook pages to ask how they can be praying for them. Social media has a lot of opportunities, but it also has many pitfalls.

I wonder if beneath the decision of being on or off social media is a deeper problem of being scared of silence. Hopefully, this thread can give us all practical ways of how we can set God first privately before we share Him publicly via technology and in-person conversations.

I’m genuinely curious here as I’m really interested in communications. Sometimes, it feels like my efforts both on and off screen are shouting into silence and making things worse. I’d love to hear practical thoughts from others! So, in your preferred medium of high-tech or no-tech, how do you deliberately show sacrificial truth and love, @Myles_Goodwin, @rogerc, and @RebeccaN? When Vince Vitale says

“From this distance, all we can do is shout to one another or ignore each other - once again, fight or flee.”

What are practical ways in your preferred medium you shorten the distance between you and others? What does it look like in your specific context to show both love and truth?

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I’d take Vince to task on that quote (in love and with a wry smille…I’ve had the chance to sit down with him and chat over coffee before). First, I’d make the same point I made previously (we need to separate medium and message, and not blame the medium). Second, I’d point out that a good chunk of the very Bible we read were letters (use of a medium), and obviously those were neither shouting at nor ignoring their respective audiences. And while Paul, for instance, acknowledges that he’d rather be with someone in person (1 Co 14), that didn’t stop him from availing himself of the available communication technology of the day.

As for this thread, are you now evolving from the strengths and weaknesses of social media to the cultural or personal discipline (or lack thereof) of solitude? The article you shared certainly confounds the two (and ironically cites a pre-interwebs Bonhoeffer in making his point).

Communicating with truth and love is a heart issue with or without a medium in between. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Great question! Frankly, I’m struggling a bit with guiding discussion in an online setting. :exploding_head: Haha. But we try to catch interest with different RZIM YouTube videos, and I’ve been wanting to learn how other Christian’s approach social media.

I would love to learn more about what approach specifically you bring to social media, behind the pros and cons of social media overall - what are practical steps you take when logging onto your social media accounts? How do you prepare your heart beforehand, and are there Scriptire verses you think shed light on social media?

How do we show sacrificial truth and love? I think one of the best ways we can is to hold onto friendship even when we sharply disagree about something. Not that we remain silent when there is a disagreement, but rather that we share in such a way that we show that we love the other person more than we love winning the argument. That is becoming a rare thing, I think: either we are in agreement or we keep our mouths shut in order to keep the relationship. But true friendship will survive disagreements and adversity. And that may well be the thing people are looking for without even knowing it: will you still love me when we do not see eye to eye? Will you stick with me if you know who I really am? Will you still love me if you knew what I have done?

And God’s answer to that is yes, yes, and yes. But He isn’t content to leave us there, rather He calls, “Leave your life of sin. Come and follow me!”

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Jesus healed 10 lepers. One returned to give thanks,(face to face). What would we do today if we were one of the ten? Post it on social media or not, or return to Jesus to Glorify God? All I’m saying here is a lot of our understanding of each other is compromised by using social media. Just a thought. God is Good to All. Fred Proch

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@Brittany_Bowman1, my two bits:

Communicating through a medium is a point of connection between senders/receivers of signal. Some of those are synchronous (real time, e.g., telephone) and some asynchronous (like this). But we’re talking about people and communication, so if there’s an approach, it’s a human, not tactical, one.

I rarely “prepare my heart” beforehand in any way that’s different from approaching a day. Each day I pray for a chance to be a witness in whatever room or neighborhood I show up in, and some of those rooms and neighborhoods are digital.

That said, I’ll use Facebook as a contrast to this. I’ve mostly non-Christian friends there. Gays, transvestites, Muslims, crystal worshippers, you name it. So while I don’t hide my faith, I don’t walk around with a tshirt on that spouts Bible verses or politics (I trust you know what I mean). If I did, they’d unfriend me. But I have this thin thread of connection that allows me to occasionally make a comment, ask a penetrating question. And I very occasionally post something that links to my daily Bible reading+apologetics podcast or about church.

None of this is a “social media” strategy in and of itself. It’s having a decorum and approach that meets people where they’re at in whatever neighborhood or room I’m in. You wouldn’t go on a foreign mission trip without learning the customs and trying to meet people where they’re at, right? Every neighborhood, online or off, has its culture. And I just pray that “when in Rome” I can be all things to all people that I might win some.

Hope that helps. :wink:

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Thanks for such a reflective reply, @RebeccaN. I especially appreciate your thought,

Will you still love me when we do not see eye to eye? Will you stick with me if you know who I really am? Will you still love me if you knew what I have done?

I remember one distant acquaintance posting, “If you support ___, I will unfriend you.” I replied, “Why base a person’s measurement on something so superficial as politics? Aren’t we worth so much more?” I’m not sure if that was the right approach, but I didn’t get unfriended. You hit on a really key point, how beneath the surface of posts is a cry to be noticed and loved. One RZIM podcast, Cover to Cover, touches on how many social media posts aren’t necessarily support of the information, but as a way of representing oneself to others.

As social media analytics get better and better at sorting people, I wonder what will happen - eventually we will be with people just like us. Then, we’re going to have to stare at the fact that maybe we aren’t quite as good as we thought we were. There won’t be the distraction of pointing to someone else as “worse.”

@rogerc, to expand more on your question about my goal in asking this question - I was hoping with the link to show a con of social media while also highlighting pros of how churches are using it well.

On a personal note, I hit a crisis of faith a year or two ago when I stared at what I had diminished Christianity to. On one side, I went to a superficial church because I thought the only way to spread the Gospel was to learn the techniques behind their social media and mass communication strategies. They got Truth far and wide, so it seemed, but the relationship with God felt lacking. On the other side, I showed a lot of sacrificial love to friends but never spoke Truth to them because I thought they would reject me. Eventually, I reached a point where I needed to know what was real because believing in only the manmade efforts and not God had collapsed on itself. Vince’s concept of highlighting how Christ brings both sacrificial love and Truth together is beautiful. So my question is, whether social media specifically is a problem/help aside - what are practical ways we can demonstrate Truth and love together?

@fredproch, you bring up a really good point on how social media can shrink our deeper understanding. @CarsonWeitnauer had a great Facebook live clip a few weeks ago, but I can’t find it now. There is a balance between projecting what we want the world to see and genuinely showing our live’s messier corners. Is there an approach you try to bring to your social media, Fred?

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Rebecca: The short answer to your question for me is; Think it through before using social media. Ask for divine guidance. I believe RZIM and the Bible agree that we are to be gentle and humble in our responses. Thanks for asking.
God is Good to All. Fred Proch

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