When I wrote Rewired, I argued that there is really nothing new about “social media” except the term itself. Media (truth, information) has been around since the world began, and God made us to be social from the start. It was always his idea that truth and information, especially the good news about God, be spread relationally, from person to person. What is new is the set of tools we have at our disposal to create and join conversations online.
So I love social media. I believe it’s a force for good. People use it to raise money for good causes, to teach good things, to form good relationships, and to have good conversations. But I also hate it, because people also use it to spread hate, to turn conversations into fights, and to pursue unhealthy and destructive habits. But here’s the thing – it isn’t the fault of social media, it’s the fault of sinful human beings.
Michael Hyatt summed it up well…
When unhealthy, obsessive people with lousy people skills engage with social media, we shouldn’t be surprised to find unhealthy, obsessive, and petty behavior. But that’s a user issue. What I find inspiring are all the people who use social media to grow professionally, relationally, and personally. And I bet there are more of those than the rest.
Hearing people rant and rave about political issues isn’t new. It’s just that it used to happen in town squares and now it happens in a newsfeed. Having affairs isn’t new, but now people who would be unfaithful because of lust and relational brokenness use Facebook to flirt with the wrong people. And if you think narcissism and self-centeredness came along with Twitter and Instagram, you’re sorely mistaken.
At the end of the day, social media is innocuous. We like to say that “social media is powerful” but the truth is, people and ideas are powerful. Social media is just the new town square where people hang out and share their ideas.
Having said that, there are a few things we do need to be aware of. Online social networking, new technologies, and the latest apps can indeed tap into the darker side of who we are, especially when we use them in a way that is detached from our greater purposes in life.
Don’t buy the lie that we’re safe throwing stones at others from behind our computer screens, or the lie that we’re free to visit virtual red light districts anonymously, or the lie that the world can’t possibly keep on spinning without hearing my opinion on every trending topic. And do remember that the purposes for which you live every day apply in your online interactions.
Use social media for good. Some really smart, wealthy, intuitive people have invented and made available some online tools that provide a platform for truth to spread, for grace to be shown, for encouragement to be shared, and for relationships to deepen. Support good causes. Get to know people. And in a supernaturally natural way, tell everybody you can about Jesus.
Is social media really bad for you? Or are you just bad with social media? You can improve your game. Just remember who you are and why you’re really here!