Earlier this morning, I watched a portion of Aaron Marshall’s presentation (via live-streaming) at Southern Seminary entitled “How to Use Social Media for Ministry WITHOUT Overloading, Burning Time, and Losing Your Religion.” In the introduction of his post, Marshall writes,
Social Media is said to be the biggest change in communications in the last 50 years. These social technologies are revolutionizing the way people are conversing, collaborating and connecting. If your goal is to reach people and bring glory to God than this is something you cannot ignore.
I wrote last week why I use Twitter, and I am fairly networked on the internet with several blogs, Facebook (and groups) and a couple of Twitter accounts. On the same morning that Aaron Marshall gave his presentation advocating social media for ministry, I checked out what my good friend Owen Strachan had to say and the questions/challenges he presented in his blogpost, “Questioning Twitter and Status Updates: Or, How to Become Unpopular with Everyone in a Few Short Paragraphs.” Here is the latter portion of his well-articulated argument:
I also wonder about the danger of narcissism with this new method of communication. Why do we need to tell each other what tv show we’re watching? Why do we constantly change our Facebook profile pictures? Why do we blather on forever on our blogs about what we’re doing, liking, missing, and hoping? Ours is a narcissistic, self-focused generation, and the level of this narcissism boggles the mind. We know so little in the way of self-control and modesty and are so skilled in the ways of self-promotion and impulse-gratification. I fear that our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs all too often represent a shallowness of soul that cries out for attention we do not need and should not want.
Look: all the cultural momentum points away from self-control, modesty, and the pursuit of a significant life. We are encouraged by culture to be self-promoters, shallow, technologically obsessed, and unconcerned with the larger things and bigger questions of life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen all of these problems cohere in a student in a class on some important Christian doctrine updating their Facebook page. This, I would argue, is our generation’s constellation of problems captured in a single picture. One is self-promoting (oftentimes), frequently posting a silly picture or comment, surfing the web, and ignoring complex instruction that requires concentration and that will almost certainly stretch and bless one’s mind and soul. Such behavior is too frequent almost to notice and frighteningly bankrupt.
Many of us can make a quick sarcastic remark, but how many of us can follow a philosophical or theological argument? Or, better yet, how many of us would want to? Wouldn’t we rather Twitter, or check our email, or our Facebook page, or play a fun electronic game? Most of us. And most of us are becoming spiritually and intellectually thin, even as our narcissism grows bloated and our instincts for self-promotion wax hot.
I would challenge readers: speaking generally, don’t use Twitter. Cultivate deep thinking even as you use technology. If something smells strongly of self-promotion, give it a pass. Be a part of Facebook, of other media, but do so thoughtfully, responsibly, edifyingly. Glorify Christ not simply in how you use media, but in what media you use.
What are your thoughts?
(you can say it in more than 140 characters if you want)