The Blessings and Curses of 2011 – The Year “Social” Went Mainstream
The presentation shows how social media has moved from “fringe to mainstream,” and considers six aspects of what they call a “revolution.” As Christians, we need to realize that social media and technology bring with it both blessings and curses. Here are a few thoughts that came to mind after watching this presentation.
The rise of social media has seen unparalleled speed in mass communication.
What a blessing it is that pastors and Christian leaders have the ability to easily publish theologically rich and pastorally sensitive responses to cultural and theological events within minutes or hours of them occurring. The medium itself has also aided many churches and ministries to make their normal content easily available to the masses.
The access to speed often limits our desire and ability to simply stop and consider. There is an expectation that we must respond, and respond NOW! Too easily and too often we type a blog post or send a tweet that should have never been published. Discernment and reflection take time.
Social media has opened the door to the world, allowing the whole world to be your neighbor.
It is very easy to live our lives unaware of the suffering occurring all around the world every minute of every day. Social media has again—as did television—brought the world to our doorstep. Particularly unique to social media has been its ability to raise money on mass and co-ordinate and mobilize support in response to disasters. I very much appreciated a talk I heard recently at a conference on how World Vision Australia and other not-for-profits are making use of social media.
I wonder if we’ll ever find ourselves in a time where we’re kind of like the priest in The Parable of the Good Samaritan, self-righteously walking past the man in need on the side of the road (our physical neighbor) because we’re so focused on the more noble task in Jerusalem (our international neighbors). It may even be the case, because of how sinful our hearts are, that some neglect those in need here because they’ve made a donation online via their credit card. You can’t buy your way out of God’s command to love your physical neighbour.
The rise of social media has opened up transparency and given a voice to the individual.
Just as social media has been used in the world to speak out against political oppression and humanitarian issues, the Church now has the ability to use social media and technology to spread the message of the gospel in areas where traditional means are difficult or impossible. An uncensored internet means an uncensored gospel. This is something to be thankful for and an area I believe the Church needs to continue to pray about and make more use of.
Considering the world, we must remember that with an uncensored medium like the internet, it not only means an uncensored gospel but uncensored everything. This is not always desirable. Looking to Christians, it can mean private matters—that should remain private—become public, church discipline issues that should occur in a local church with godly oversight get taken up and thrashed out in blog wars, and those misrepresenting Christ and His Word get equal “air time.”
The trend is continuing. As a culture we’ve embraced social media. It is having an affect for good and for bad. It is opening up doors and blinding us from others.
2011 was the year “social” went mainstream. I’m not sure what 2012 will bring, but one thing is for sure, if you been ignoring it thinking it was just a fad, it can’t be ignored any longer.
If you want to read and reflect on technology from a Christian perspective I recommend reading Tim Challies’ The Next Story (currently $2.07 if purchased for Kindle) and watching David Murray’s God’s Technology. Although I’ve not yet read it, it has many good reviews, so maybe check out John Dyer’s From the Garden to the City as well.