Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Tag: Facebook

The Impact of Social Media: Part 1 – CTJ #36

How has Social Media impacted the world?  What about the individual?  What about the Christian?  What about the Church?

These are the questions we will seek to answer on this series of podcasts about the Impact of Social Media.  Part 1 will mainly focus on society as a whole down to the individual and then start to cross over to how it has impacted Christians individually.  Now that a sufficient amount of time has passed since the dawn of Social Media, there are numerous studies, findings, and consequences coming out that we want to explore.

As Always:

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References:
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/01/606588504/americans-are-a-lonely-lot-and-young-people-bear-the-heaviest-burden

https://eand.co/three-things-to-learn-from-facebooks-latest-debacle-df6af136282a

https://eand.co/is-social-media-a-failure-f4f970695d17

 

The Christian Hypocrite

 

 

It’s been a while.

 

 

Facebook is a great place for Christians to show off their hypocritical ability. I mean it doesn’t take much effort for me to find the guy who in one breath posts lyrics about grace and love and in the next breath posts how much a certain politician is ruining America, or how the barista messed up his or her drink AGAIN, or how people just really tick them off because they drive slow in the left hand lane (My pet peeve) or how rude customers are to them at work. In fact, the other day I saw a particular person who had one status filled with a couple of F bombs about the way people drive followed by a status with a Bible verse about God’s grace and love.

 

 

We do this while claiming to be an ambassador for the ways of Jesus.

 

Don’t get me wrong, Christians are humans too. Christians will do things that can be at best be described as unwise.  Christians will be hypocrites because deep down everyone is a hypocrite at some point and time in life. Sure we all strive to be consistent, we try to have our actions line up with our words, but they don’t all the time do they? Maybe that’s why Paul wrote these brilliant words in Romans:

 

 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…”

 

 

Nailed it.

 

 

But (and there’s always a but) what irks me here is that we act like we are ok with being this way. We claim to be a Christian, we claim to affirm the death and resurrection of Jesus and by default we affirm his way of living, but instead of following his way, we follow the culture’s way. We vent to Facebook about dumb people. When someone gives us attitude we give people attitude right back. We don’t put ourselves aside for the sake of others, or give people the benefit of the doubt. We are not quick to forgive, we are quick to hold grudges and you know the kingdom we build when we live opposite of Christ? I’ll give you a hint..it’s not the kingdom of God.

 

 

Listen, if you are a Christian then you’re telling people that you’re following a different path than most people. You’re telling culture that you subscribe to the ways of Jesus whether you recognize that or not.

 

Being a follower of Jesus is not always an easy life to live, but it is a better way to live. Let me also mention here that when I say Christian or follower of Jesus I’m not referring to praying a prayer, going to ‘church’ once a week, reading your Bible every now and then, and trying to vote for those good ol’ Christian ‘conservative’ values.

 

That’s the easy stuff. Anyone can do those things. I’m talking about costly grace here. The kind that you give your life for. I’m talking about loving the people who don’t treat you nice. I’m talking about laying yourself down for the sake of others. I’m talking about taking all of Christ’s words seriously, not just the popular cliché one liners.

 

Let me put it this way; if you believe that Christ is the son of God and that every word in the Bible is God breathed, then please take the words “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as seriously as you take “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me”.

 

Jesus’s way of living calls us to abandon ourselves for the sake of the Gospel. Will we miss that mark at times? Yes we will. What do we do when that happens? We repent to our gracious Father and we repent to those who we wronged. A Christian apologizing for their fault and for their wrongdoing in a situation speaks volumes more than doing all the right things ever could. Why? Because people know that no one is perfect. People know that we all make mistakes and sometimes frankly, We Christians don’t think that we are ever at fault. We are quick to play the persecution or “hey what about MY RIGHTS card” while forgetting that Jesus tells us that for us to find our life we must first lose it.

 

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-TWImage

 

 

 

 

The Social Dilemma Part 2

So as Tim stated in his post last week… we are touching on some of the pitfalls of the social media driven world.  Again, I would like to state that we love social media.  In fact, if you are reading this post… it is a form of social media.  We looked at the validation search last week and want to take a look at “intimate moments” this week.

Missed Part 1?  Check it out here: Part 1

The more I scour the various platforms of social media the more I am confronted with the simple fact of their success.  Social media has reached deep into the human psyche and struck a chord for acceptance, and validation.  Tim aptly explained that this search for acceptance and validation is because we haven’t found it in our Creator (with whom we have already been accepted and loved).  If we don’t seek for it and find it in our Creator we will pursue it elsewhere and always come up empty.  However, I wanted to look at not our search for validation but the loss of distinction between public and personal information.

The rest of the world is breaking into our most intimate moments.  Walk through a restaurant and notice how many families are not talking but all scrolling through their phones.  See how many dates are inundated with pictures/tweets of food, ticket stubs, and selfies.  At the next wedding you attend try to count the amount of times someone pulls out their phone to get the next Instagram photo captured for posting.  These intimate moments are being destroyed because of our addiction to social media.  Family time around the table used to entail discussing the latest news of the day and enjoying time as a family, now it is time to catch up on the world.  Dates used to be the method of discovering if the person across the table or next to you at the concert was the person you wanted to spend your life with, now it is the method to gain social popularity.  Weddings used to be a celebration of love when we show our support in this beautiful union of two people, now it is the springboard for “likes” and “follows.”  I assure you that your family would rather have you present at dinner than see you posted a picture of your plate with the hashtags “#homecooking #loveyoumom #poorcollegekid #nomoreramen.”  I promise that your date would rather spend time talking to you and enjoying the date then see some status about how good your seats are or where you are eating.  And I can absolutely guarantee that the couple that invited you to their wedding would much rather you enjoy it with your phone in your pocket and your eyes on them.  If social fame is what you are after then the sacrifice will be much greater than you want to give.  As those precious moments slip by you will wish that you everything back.

Another problem I have been noticing was more apparent than ever last Friday.  Yes, February 14th.  Better known as Valentine’s Day.  Scroll through any social media news feed that day and you will see a bunch of posts that you will wonder why they are online instead of written in some card.  Part of it goes back to what Tim wrote last week… we want to be noticed, we want to be validated, and we want to show off our lives.  I am thrilled that people love their significant other but those are moments and things that should be shared between those two people only.  Stop bringing the world into our private lives!  I’ve had to catch myself on multiple occasions from spreading something that was private.  From inviting people into my intimate moments that had no business being there.  The line has all but been erased between public and private; between universal and intimate.

Push the social media back out of your private life and enjoy those moments.  No tweet, vine, post, or picture will ever compare to the quality time spent in the moments you will cherish.  Tell your significant other to their face how much they mean to you and it will mean much more than an eloquently worded post.  Sit down and discuss life with friends and family around the table and you’ll never miss what the social world is doing around you.  Enjoy your life and those you have in it face to face instead of screen to screen.

The Social Media Dilemma: Part One

I LOVE social media. I really do.

I use it daily, I use it to connect with old friends, see what my friends who are traveling are up to, I use it to promote this blog, use it to share my opinions on things, and I use it to keep in touch with people I don’t see often. Social media (especially Facebook) sure has its perks.

But, like any good thing, the abuse of it can lead to a major problem. Social media is not immune to its own problems….and it has quite a few when it is used to an extreme.

In the next two posts, Rob and I are going to be touching on the two big problems we see with social media when we begin to let it creep in to areas it really shouldn’t be. I (Tim) will be taking part one, and Rob will be taking part two. Onward to part 1.

What do I think is one of the biggest dangers of Facebook? The dreaded ‘like’ button. This little button says so much more than the word itself. This word ‘like’ also says approval, validation, popularity, cool, and pretty much any other word designed to inflate the self. When you get 30 likes on a status you can’t help but think “wow, I must be a popular guy”. You know how I know people think that? Because I think that.

The shift in our culture over the past decade regarding where we seek popularity has been immense. Specifically related to where and how we seek validation and approval. We used to seek most of our approval from actual human beings. These could include our peers, parents, immediate family, co-workers, or fans. But over the years we’ve shifted from people to digitized words and symbols. Now, we get our validation from how many people retweet our tweet, how many people ‘like’ our opinions, how many people share our photo, blog post (whoops), or self-made meme (so far no luck). We now view ourselves more highly when social media views us more highly.

Here’s the thing though, God has already approved of us. Yes, the one who designed every atom in our body, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has already approved us and validates us as lovely, brave and worth loving. The fact that Christ died on the cross to save a dying world from their own sin shows us that he approves of us. So much that He wants to set us up as co-heirs with His Son!

If we don’t find our approval from our Creator we will always be seeking our validation from somewhere else. For some it might not necessarily be social media, but for most that is where we seek it.

It’s a dead end.

A black hole.

And it’s not authentic.

It’s like eating junk food.

When we use social media as a validation tool, we essentially tell God that what he already says about us is not true. When we seek unhealthy approval from people, we become a slave to the cycle of thinking “man I hope people like this”.

God didn’t design us to live enslaved to other people and what they think of us, He designed us to live in freedom of who he says we already are.

Social media can be a great tool. In fact, you most likely found this post through Facebook or some other form of it. But when we use it to validate us as humans, as worthy, it falls short. Until you find it in the one who designed you, it will be an empty lifelong pursuit.

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The Rules of Engagement: The Lost Art of Debate.

These days I’m more of a moderator on my own Facebook page than anything else. In a way, I like that. It’s great seeing people engaged in discussion about various topics that are viewed differently through the eyes of different world views. Atheists, Christians, Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, Veterans, Moms, Dads, and more are all represented on my Facebook page pretty often. It makes me happy. Not because I get 40 likes or 40 comments, but because people are engaging in issues that are incredibly important. Now I realize that Facebook is a pretty limited medium but you know what? It’s a start. If people start talking about it, they start thinking about it, and any action first starts in the mind of a person. If all I do is plant seeds and they get watered elsewhere that’s fine with me.

Sometimes though, the conversation gets heated, the conversation gets a little intense, and before you can say controversial, people start name calling and resorting to the vocabulary of a 6th grader. I understand why. It’s easy to get emotionally involved in a conversation, especially one that you are really passionate about. Homosexuality and abortion are two topics that people are very passionate about! I get it completely. I’ve had my fair share of losing my cool and resulted in breaking a keyboard (or two….or three….). But at the end of the day no amount of anger, name calling, and insulting gets your point across does it? The next day when you read what you wrote you think “what was I thinking!”. I’ve been there too and I’ve had to apologize many a time to people that I conversed with through some sort of digital medium.

So to help all of you out reading this, I’ve composed a couple of things that you should keep in mind when debating or discussing controversial topics. Below are Tim’s online discussion rules! Also, if you post on my Facebook frequently I want to first say thank you, and then I want to say PLEASE keep these rules in mind.

1. No name calling, insulting, or personal attacks – Remember you are debating an idea, or a view point, not a person. Argue ideas, ideologies, and anything else you want, but don’t start to insult people. When you do that not only do you look desperate, you automatically lose the person you’re trying to convince of your point. It’s completely self defeating.

2. Choose your words carefully – I can’t read your mind or inflection when I’m reading your response. All I’m reading are words. Because of that go out of your way to explain that you mean this in a polite way and with respect. I’ve been learning myself that when I take the time to explain myself clearly, I’m better heard by the person.

3. Be willing to admit your wrong – Unlike the political world, admit your wrong when you’re wrong. It drives me nuts that in our rhetoric based society NO ON can admit that they were wrong on issues. I’ve tasted my foot many times, and I’m getting used to the taste. I’ve had to apologize to people for making false assumptions or just not knowing the subject as well as they did. It’s ok to admit that you were wrong!

4. Come to the table willing to learn – I’m pretty confident in my beliefs, but that doesn’t mean there are not times that I think “wow that’s a great point that I’ve never thought of”. I try and tell the person this so that way they know that I am open to what they have to say. Try it sometime, open that mind of yours in a healthy way. Don’t have it so open that your brains fall out, but don’t have it so closed that your brain can’t breathe either.

5. If you’re going to get involved with a discussion, know how to defend your point when asked – Nothing is more frustrating then asking someone a straight forward question and getting riddles in response. If you can’t really defend your position well then research it more before you start typing away furiously on that keyboard of yours.

There you have it. 5 things to keep in mind when entering the wonderful world of internet dialogue, discussion, and debate. Also let me just say that I appreciate so much all of you who take the time to engage in the discussions that happen on my Facebook frequently. I purposefully keep it open and public so people can really get different perspectives on some of the issues on our time. Thank you for participating in that discussion. – TW