Unsocial Media

What does your social media look like?  Not necessarily which one you use, but who are you in contact with through it?  I don’t Twit, and Facebook is my only social media venture thus far.  When I scroll through my friends, I see a broad spectrum of people.  There are two guys I’ve known since elementary school.  A smattering of folks from Junior and Senior high.  A few from college.  Some from many of the places I’ve worked (other than Burger King…oddly enough I’m not in contact with any of those folks still!).  Some from various educational institutions I’ve either attended or worked for.  Some from the congregation’s I serve(d).  There’s a growing number from the bar pool league I play in.  Finally there a few people that I’ve met in various capacities and situations only briefly.

It’s a diverse group, to say the least.  I take this into account when I post on Facebook – which is rarely.

I’m not sure about you but when I’m with any one of these many people, I don’t feel compelled to shout out my opinions on politics, sexuality, religion, or current events.  I may talk about some of these things with these various people, but there’s always a context to the conversation.  I’ve never had a single conversation where I or the person I was talking to simply announced If you hold this particular opinion on this particular subject, I don’t ever want to talk to you again and I hope you die in a car fire.

But I hear the equivalent from people all the time on Facebook.

I wonder about the diversity of their social network.  How many different people are they around?   Do they expect that every single person in their social network should think and feel exactly the way they do?  Have they forgotten that I’m in their list of friends?

It’s easy to think of the people posting obnoxious, rude, and hateful things.  But I’d argue that there are other people doing the opposite of this and it’s just as weird.  Many of the people I interact with on a regular basis aren’t Christian.  It would never strike me as appropriate when running into them at Costco or over a pool table to just shout out a verse of Scripture.  But I have friends that do this as well.  Are they only friends with Christians?  What must that be like for their non-Christian friends?  I can understand quoting Scripture to encourage a brother or sister in the faith, but does it have that same effect on non-Christians?  My experience has been overwhelmingly that it does not.

What is social media ultimately for?  Is it a platform to express my inner thoughts and feelings, even in a manner that I would never consider doing face to face with another person?  Is it a means of fostering dialogue and contact with a great number of people across the span of my life?  Should it only be for and with people who think and feel exactly as I do on whatever topics I make determinative?  Is it a reminder and celebration that even people who are very different can still find value in one another?

How is it that we’ve come to think of social media as different from our face-to-face interactions, even though it encompasses many of the people we interact with face-to-face?  Is it possible to disparage a particular point of view and have any respect for someone who believes it?  Is that the nature of friendship and relationship, let alone the definition of loving my neighbor as myself?

It’s troubling, regardless.



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