Social Media has opened a wide door to communicate and keep in touch with people. Along with smart phones and tablets, people can now share thoughts, pictures, and video in the moment they happen. With all the positives that can made for Social Media, it has far reaching negative consequences as well.
Many people use Social Media to keep up with friends and family. Others like to share whatever the trend is of that day. For some, Social Media is a means to rehash the old chain-letter. Whatever the case may be, I think most would agree, there has become very little value in most of what is being shared these days. People are often so quick to share things in cyberspace that they may at least think twice about sharing in the “real world”.
I think any of us who have ventured onto these platforms can attest that we have seen some pretty shocking things. Not just the things that individuals post, but also the aggressive comments that others make. Social Media has in many ways become a place to air out personal grievances and attacks with little to no concern about the consequences.
In what should be a platform that people can share their lives along with thoughts, ideas, and maintain real world relationships, Social Media has turned into an online world devoid of many of the things that we would have hoped for. The world is going to be the world, but we that profess a faith in Jesus should exemplify higher standards.
What is most troubling about Social Media are those who claim to be pastors and leaders, yet many post the most absurd, random, obscure, and un-biblical things you can imagine. Many of these popular “Christians”, become celebrities by personally interacting or having others manage their accounts for them on a daily basis. There are even those that have people “on staff” in which their whole job description is dedicated to maintaining their web presence and social media accounts. And while people may have good motives in trying to connect with people, their posts often do more for self-promotion and tickling the ears of their followers than really pointing people to a Biblical faith in Jesus and true discipleship.
The idea of seeking to connect with the world has gotten to the point where many justify these practices as “outreach”, or even “evangelism”, but if you spend any time really sifting through these posts, you will be truly appalled at what people actually believe and who they associate with. Although they may sometimes post verses here or there (usually out of context), most tend to share whatever catchphrase they or others have happened to come up with that week. Post, share, retweet, forward, follow, like…repeat. It really is the endless cycle of thinking people are impacting the world for Jesus, but most are really only spewing garbage and dragging God’s name through the mud in the process.
You would think that would be the end of it. But it gets worse.
As I mentioned above, the comments people often make are way out of line. In an perfect world we would like to think that we could have a civil dialogue about theology, faith, and life in these online forums, but that rarely, if ever, does that actually happen. I have personally been attacked online and have seen way too many times to count, others being berated and belittled because they happen to be standing for the Truth. Sadly, many pastors and leaders are leading the charge in attacking those with whom they disagree. It is truly shameful.
I have had to learn that in both my personal life and ministry that I must be very careful in my use of Social Media. It is easy to buy into the idea that you could reach out to those you might not have a great opportunity to share faith with otherwise. Although this still may true to a certain extent, Social Media must never be a replacement for actually connecting with people in the real world.
It’s a sad reality that so many have fallen into the unending need to be a part of this online world. You see the results as people are glued to their devices eagerly awaiting what is posted next. For some it has become an obsession and for others, an all out addiction. The amount of time that is wasted simply out of curiosity to not miss out on something is tragic. I think all of us have witnessed being out at a restaurant and seeing a group of people or a family with each of them focused on their devices and not noticing anyone or anything else around them.
Another area of great concern is the lasting consequences Social Media can have in a person’s life. What may be shared today, may be something that can destroy lives, relationships, careers, and ministries in the years that follow. These are critical things that should give us great pause personally, but also for children growing up; to walk along side of them and make them aware of the dangers that can follow.
With the advancement of technology, it has provided some really remarkable achievements in productivity, efficiency, and communication. We are now able to stay connected to people around the world in real time. But with the advancement in technology, it requires us to adjust our lives to make sure we are standing firm in the faith and not being swept away by the ways of the world.
It is good to continually examine how we use our time, as well as the things we are sharing. It is important that we really think about the impact that these things are having in our lives. This goes for Social Media, but also in everything we do. We must not allow Social Media to be our downfall, but rather in faith and obedience, continue to stand for the Truth and represent Christ well in all our ways.