I’ve recently had a string of conversations with other Christ followers about the value of social media. In each conversation, I found myself on the defensive – trying to articulate how it was more than just a platform for self-promotion or another input point in an already information crazy world. Through these conversations, I’ve come up with a simple premise: social media is about relationships and relationships are at the very core of what we should be about.
Let me explain that a little better. I am a single mom with two jobs (I stage manage and I homeschool). This leaves me very little face to face relationship building time with people who are important to me. Through Facebook and Twitter, I am able to not only keep up with what it happening in my friends lives, but open myself up to them. A relationship has to be two ways to work. When I type that I’m feeling discouraged in my profile, 20 people post with encouragement for me. That, my friends, is the hand of God through the people I love. It also gives me insight into these wonderful people and how they think so that at a later date, I can offer them a similar support. One of the arguments I regularly hear is that FB is eroding “real” relationships by allowing us to offload communication to this format. I would argue that the opposite is true. If I read a great book and post about it, I have an instant conversation point with hundreds of people that I never would have called individually to discuss the book. Many of these conversations continue off line! What a blessing!
Twitter is a little different beast. It allows you to be a part of conversations with people you don’t really know. At a recent conference, all the tweeting attenders were using the hashtag #gurusoftech when posting about their experience. Suddenly I found a host of new colleagues to exchange information with. I am encouraged by their success, taught by their failures and allowed to put my information into the mix. And we are all better for it.
When talking about FB to a man I deeply respect, he said “I’m just not sure I want to be known like that” and that really stuck in my mind. If we aren’t willing to put ourselves out there and be known, why should anyone value what we have to say, or what we believe in? The relationship is already broken.
The bottom line is that people don’t really care what you say or do unless they are in relationship with you. Social media allows us to both find and to deepen those relationships.