Christian, what is your purpose in Social Media? What does your relationship with social media look like? Is there a right way to approach this cultural phenomenon? If there is a right way, that must mean there is a wrong way too, right?
I bet that right now you can even think of several people off the top of your head and point to them and say, “That’s the wrong way to use social media.” Everybody is different and everyone approaches social media with different goals. Social media is an extension of what would happen if you placed 100 people into a 1,000 square foot space and simply left them to talk. Everyone’s cramped and milling around seeking out like-minded people while steering clear of or purposefully antagonizing those they do not quite see eye to eye with. Every once in a while someone gets up and stands on a stage to shout out an opinion, idea, or story and all of a sudden the whole room is talking about it.
Simply put, though, social media is a medium, a platform, through which relationships are strung. The best of all relationships are defined by a unifying purpose and then work themselves out by spending time working towards that purpose.
So I started wondering to myself. Why do I use social media? Bear with me as I attempt to explore this question.
- Why do we use social media?
The very first question we have to ask ourselves in order to examine this is, “Why do we use social media?” Obviously this question can lend itself to a myriad of answers many of which are valid, some of which may be more useful than others. However, I feel like it really comes down to these three types of people: Consumers, Seekers, and Engagers.
Consumers (a boat I will admit I fall in often) mainly use social media so that they can consume content. All they want to do is to get on, see what is happening in their social circles or around the world and then leave. Seekers are those people who mainly get on in order to find a community. They want a place to belong and feel noticed, and social media offers to them a place where that can happen. Then you have Engagers. These are the people who, let’s be honest, probably stir the pot the most but do so by getting people involved directly or indirectly.
Now I want to say that there is a dark and light side to each of these categories, but that might be too much for this time. Suffice it to say, none of these categories are necessarily bad or good, but it is important to understand why you are using social media so that you can use your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.
Ultimately, though, no matter if you fall into one of the above categories or some other category or a mixture of categories, the goal should be to always give God the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
- How do we engage with others on social media?
That seems like a lofty goal for something that seems so common place as social media, right? Well that’s what brings us to this next big question: How do we use social media?
In order to glorify God in even the little things in life (i.e. eating, sleeping, relaxing, etc.) what matters is how we are doing it. We have to ask ourselves, “Is how we are treating our bodies honoring to God? Is what I listen to giving Him glory? Is how I consume content, seek out community, or invest in people’s lives Christ-like?”
And that is the ultimate question for how we use social media. Is how we conduct ourselves on this platform bringing us closer to a Christ-bearing image?
That can be a convicting question. We have to expel, though, the errant notions of what we think that means. I feel like our first instinct is to think of Jesus as being really timid or gentle and though we have been called to a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11) Jesus was honestly quite a firebrand sometimes (remember Matthew 21:12-13?).
All this to say, that we want to use social media in a way that is God-glorifying and we can do that by drawing close to Christ and attempting to become more like Him in every way.
- What should we do on social media?
But for me, I would want to take it a step further. We have worked on why to use social media and how to use it, but when it comes down to it what should we actually do on social media?
If you are anything like me, there are a lot of things that you can do. I scroll through my feed and there are so many things that I could respond to in joy or frustration, with opinion or affirmation.
But before we get too far, we want to go back to the Word. How can the Word guide us in this? Yes, social media wasn’t quite around back then but the desires that social media meets are not new and human beings have been finding ways to commune, share ideas, and interact with each other for millennia.
As evidenced in those times, the most common places that I could think of that this type of platform occurred was at the city gates, the city squares, or the synagogues. With these three scenarios my mind drifts mostly to Old Testament prophets, Paul on his missionary journeys, and Christ himself.
Though it is most definitely not cut and dry, each of these I feel represent three distinct methods of what to do on social media. The first is that we can confront our culture with the truth. God sent prophet after prophet to His people the Israelites in order to turn them away from their sin and back to Him. And in one way, this is how we can view and conduct ourselves.
The second way, is that as Paul reasoned with the people around him we can do the same and engage people where they are and attempt to convince them of the truth.
But the third way, and what has been a critical point for me, we can stand where the people are gathered and simply hold out the Gospel. Christ would stand before congregations and teach them from the scripture, but besides giving them head knowledge like the Pharisees, he pointed them to a hope that others had missed: himself.
We can confront the culture and try to convince them of the truth every day of the week, but if we are not holding out the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Him crucified, buried, and risen) then we are missing the entire point of our faith.
The truth is that we are all faulty human beings. The Lord knows that I have wrong ideas and beliefs and therefore whatever reasoning I hold out to others for why I believe what I believe has the capacity to be flawed. However, when you hold out Christ, who is perfect and ever working through the Holy Spirit, then the kingdom of heaven will come. And it will be a glorious coming.
Social media allows us to reach audiences our forefathers never dreamed of. We can use this platform to make the name of our King great. So my final question to myself is, “How am I using my voice?”