Thursday, September 23, 2010

Christians Illuminating the Social Media

(Preface: I have been on an extended hiatus from my blog. I am going to try to do better, and hopefully have some direction in my ramblings in this and future posts.)

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Ephesians 4:17-5:20 (NIV).  This is a long passage, so it takes a while to read, but there is such good advice there for Christians today, that I refrain from skipping any part of it (my additional thoughts follow).
Living as Children of Light
17-19So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
20-24You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25-28Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29-32Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 5
1-2Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3-7But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
8-14For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
   "Wake up, O sleeper,
      rise from the dead,
   and Christ will shine on you."
15-20Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your Online Reputation Can Spread Quickly
As Christians, we should not only watch our walk in our day to day physical activities, but we should also be mindful of our online activities (and that includes staying away from the obvious sites which promote pornography or gambling).  It's not just about what media or messages we allow to be transmitted to our screens, but also what we messages we send out online in our language and activities.  As Christians, are we "living as children of light" online at our favorite social network hangouts? We need to remember that our status updates are read by potentially more people online than in our personal, physical lives.

Foul Language on Facebook
I am disappointed by what some people have the nerve to post on certain social networking sites, especially Facebook. The amount of profanity that pervades the vocabulary of some people is disheartening. I am certain that these offenders are more verbose than they are demonstrating. If a friend on Facebook consistently uses foul language, I have no apprehension in using the "Hide" function. 

The Ever-present "Like" button
Crass language even seeps into the many “like” applications that Facebook allows on its site. Here's my rule of thumb for "like" links: If I wouldn't want my children to read it, then I don't click it (not even if I agree with the general idea). If I click on a “like” with profanity in it, I may as well be condoning the statement, and I don't want the foul language showing up next to my name in someone's feed.

Taking it a step further, I try to refrain from clicking "like" on anything besides a person or business of some kind, though, so please don't judge me if I don't click "like" on a link saying that I love Jesus or any member of my family. Those statements go without telling the world, and I don't want to allow those dozens of generic applications to email me through Facebook.  The notification emails from these applications do nothing but take my time away from those whom I love, negating the purpose of clicking links that say, "I like the statement that I love my husband/daughter/son/mom/Jesus." (Just how many weeks in a row can it be "Daughter Week?")

As part of my effort to simplify all things around me, I have also blocked most games on Facebook, because I discovered how much time I could have been putting to better use.  My news feed is streamlined, revealing the more important items that people share (news, websites and tools). Even with all my efforts to hide and clean my Facebook feed, it is still not as clean as Twitter, due to the new game applications that come out each week on Facebook.

A New Appreciation for Twitter
I'm not knocking Facebook, but I find that with Twitter, I actually learn something. The resources I have discovered on Twitter would have taken me twice as long to find on Facebook.  External links on Twitter can be opened more easily with my mobile device, and I find people to follow in areas that interest me.  This blog post by Terry Whalin (whom I follow on Twitter) explains other benefits of using Twitter.  You can also read an interesting debate on using Twitter vs. Facebook which reflects some of my own thoughts.

After saying all this, I am not leaving Facebook. I sometimes have to click through a few pages in my news feed to see if there is anything important I may have missed in the last day. I limit my time more on Facebook now.  I try to check my page for a few short minutes a day, checking on pages of close friends and family and those who are on my prayer list. 

I welcome your comments. Have you found Twitter more satisfying, or have you yet to explore it? You can even follow my tweets!

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