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surely this requires some thought. especially the consumerizing of social relationships, that part really concerns me, and yet encourages me at the same time. I love the thought of the end of advertisements, but really it is only possible when WE are made into walking advertisements. We are already machines for the marketplace as it is. I think we need to be really careful about what we make of this, and not just laugh it off like a meaningless fad. Whatever goes right or wrong with facebook etc is in part up to each of us.
Social media is changing culture and I find it sad that many churches and organizations are blindly engaging it without any thoughtful reflection. Don’t get me wrong I think we need to engage our new world. In fact I (and the church I serve) am doing just that but to blindly and uncritically engage it, would be a HUGE mistake.
To communicate my point on the danger of engaging social media with blind pragmatism, void of thoughtful reflection, I want to point to an example of a ministry website I came across recently that questioned why any church or pastor isn’t on Twitter. They state that Jesus is constantly “tweeting” us, therefore why wouldn’t we be doing this. http://stickyjesus.com/2011/05/10-things-we-wish-pastors-would-get-about-social-media/ Really??? I get the point they are trying to make but there doesn’t seem to be any thought or reflection about the potential negative effects that social media might have.
I wonder how we discern “negative effects”. I wonder what negative effects they thought the printing press was going to bring about. Now we hear lots of people judging the negative effects of the computer according to whether we continue to pick up books and newspapers or not. I think there may be an arguable difference between the interruption of a screen and the interruption of a book, but what is it exactly? And is it purely interruption or is there also an enhancement of our “social network” that has to be weighed as well? How do we tell which is which, and is there a way to do that theologically or are we merely engaging in sociology and psychology here? (not that those are mutually exclusive, but it probably helps to know which we are doing).
When we look at technology, I see sociology, psychology and theology as being different as they ask different questions but I also see them as being linked. My personal interest in this area is how social media is effecting church culture (specifically in the area of preaching).
My personal view is that social media is not simply another fad but part of a larger cultural shift that has been caused by, and will cause, how we see and interact with the world. This seismic shift, by its very nature, will have impact on sociology, psychology and theology as we move into our new world of post-modernity, globalization, etc.
I am sure that when the printing press was created there were those who thought about all the negative impacts it may create (many of these critiques, however, probably came from slow/late adapters). My interest is not talking so much about the negative impact on a micro scale but reflecting on technology and how it effects the macro: how we communicate, think, and interact. These realities play a role in practical church life. My hope is to reflect on how the church can harness technology while critically reflecting on it’s use and the potential dangers it can bring. The medium does change the message!