Thursday, August 1, 2013

Social Networking Implications for Ministry

The Chaos of the New (Trolls, food and feet)

The internet in general and social media in particular are still new phenomenon for society. This has resulted in some strange behavior as people discover ways of using them that are not always helpful (or even sane). As believers we need to carefully consider the way we interact with people online and not just follow societal trends willy-nilly.

The relative feeling of anonymity online has led to people stretching the truth in ways they would be less inclined to face-to-face, or to the practice of trolling where personal attacks and belittling is done in a way that would never be tolerated in person.

Sillier but equally strange practices have also sprung up, such as people photographing every meal they eat or women posting pictures of their feet with alarming regularity. Why do people think the world wants to see such things is a mystery.

“Zombie” Accounts and Posts

Just as interesting as society trying to figure out the way internet interaction will really work in a way that isn’t just foot photos and sales pitches, is the clutter of empty profiles and unheard statements. A large percentage of profiles that are set up on social networks are rarely (or sometimes never) used. An even larger percentage of the content created and posted online is NEVER seen. Instead of the old “does a tree make a sound if it falls in the forest with no one there to hear it?” We could ask, “Does a tweet really exist if no one ever reads it?” Merely participating in Social Media does not guarantee that we will have an impact. We need to be intentional and we need to be smart about the time we spend and the energy we exert online.

The Junk Mail of the 21st Century

There is nothing more annoying than the reams of junk mail that fill up our mailboxes. Accept maybe for those soliciting phone calls we used to all get. Laws have been created to stop them. With the creation of email and now social networking, the problem seems to have gotten worse. Not a day—or even an hour—goes by in which we don’t get some 21st Century version of the “Chain Letter” or some manipulative post forcing us to “prove our faith” by liking or forwarding junk. There is a fine line between sharing the Gospel and simply annoying people with unwanted content. Which leads to the last point…

Internet Users are highly selective 

People filter what they see online. They seek out what they are interested in and ignore the rest. Attractional approaches rarely if ever work online.

click here for a look at this the other way around

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