Choosing One’s Fights

I was reading an article this morning from Relevant Magazine’s website (if you don’t know who they are, they’re a magazine that talks about faith and culture).  The article was “5 Arguments Not To Have on Facebook” (here is the article).  It was a good reminder of what social media is good for and what it is not good for.  Social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is not really the place to have long discussions.  Mainly because the format of these places (Twitter being 140 characters, not being interacting face to face) does not lend itself to such discussions.

As I’ve gotten older and the longer I’ve been on social media, I’ve seen more and more how other people on my feeds can get into heated discussions over hot button issues.  And while I may agree (or disagree) with some posts and tweets I’ve seen, I’ve come to see that it’s much better to address someone face to face about it then make comment after comment on a Facebook post or tweet after tweet on Twitter.

And sometimes some issues that are fought over on social media aren’t worth fighting to begin with.  They tend to be issues that aren’t relevant or not worth it.  In the end, it’s important to choose fights that are worth fighting for.  For me, the most important thing is Jesus and following Him.  I can’t make people follow Jesus, only He can do that.  But I can love on people and share the truth of the Gospel.  To some that’s offensive but Jesus said himself that to some it would be but to others it would be life.

So the next time you see a post on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter, take a moment and think.  Is this worth fighting for?  And is this the right environment to do it?

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Friendships in the Social Media Age

A question I pondered last week was this:  “Is it easier or harder to maintain friendships in the social media age?”  The reason I was pondering this was I was “unfriended” on Facebook.  I didn’t know at first that this person unfriended me until I went to look at the person’s page and it said “add friend”.

It made me think about friendships and how maintaining friendships have changed in the last decade or so.  it wasn’t too long ago that if you wanted to keep up with friends (besides face to face interaction) you had phone calls, letters or e-mail.  Each of those weren’t immediate and constant but they were still avenues to connect with friends.  Now with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media outlets, people can keep up with one another almost instantly.

However, there is a flip side to this.  When someone unfollows you on Twitter or unfriends you on Facebook, you do not receive a notice.  You get plenty of notices of people when they connect with you but none if they don’t.  When you do find out, it can hurt, especially if you weren’t just “Facebook friends” but friends in real life as well.  This is something that before the social media age wasn’t really made known.  Unless someone told you that they weren’t your friend anymore, you wouldn’t know any different.  Now that has changed.

When I posted that I was pondering this question on Facebook and Twitter, some friends posted their thoughts.  Most of them said that it was harder.  One person wrote “I think that people get lazier with maintaining friendships due to social media & that immediate gratification.  It’s like literally out of sight of mind, except your friends are in sight because you are “talking to (at)” them on social media sites.”  Another person wrote “While it’s nice to see the life of someone through social media, it isn’t the same as walking side by side.  That being said Twitter and Facebook mean you don’t have to wait for the mail to arrive to receive news from a friend.”

So what conclusion did I come to with my pondering?  Is it easier or harder to maintain friendships in the social media age?  I think it’s both.  It’s easier to keep up with really close friends and that has been helpful given the distances I live away from some of them.  it is also harder because like my one friend said there is the tendency to not work at the friendship.  Ultimately it comes down to this, regardless of the medium, relationships and friendships are a two way street.  If one person is not extending out that hand of friendship, then the other person can have their hand out all day and it won’t be reciprocated.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t keep extending it out.  It would be easy to become cynical and withdrawn if one’s self esteem was based on that.  But as followers of Jesus, believers can show love and friendship to others.  That was the cool thing that Jesus did.  He made friends with sinners.  Some of those people rejected him but he still loved them anyway.  That’s what I want to be like.  I want to be more like Jesus.  And in this social media age, I want to be like Jesus on Facebook, Twitter and face to face.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Twitter

Twitter.  Everyone today knows exactly what you mean when you say the word Twitter.  It has become not just a cultural phenomenon but a part of every day life.  You can’t go anywhere without seeing something that somebody tweeting or what’s trending.  Before twitter, the pound sign was just that, a pound sign.  Now it’s a hashtag.  Tweets help break news and communicate life.

I was not an early adopter but I did get into Twitter before it really broke out.  I started on Twitter in January of 2009, while I was still in seminary.  Back then, I guess it was in the late stages of being hipster (which is funny cause I’m not the hipster type) because it hadn’t broken into the mainstream.  I grew to like Twitter and over 21 thousand tweets later, it is one of the big ways of expressing myself on social media.  But through the years, I’ve come to understand like a lot of things it is useful but it can also be something to watch out for as well.  So for this post, i wanted to look at the good, the bad and the ugly of Twitter.

The good:

This is the fun part to write.  There are a lot of good things about Twitter.  First off, it’s a good way to express ideas or thoughts quickly.  I like to write as has been documented and Twitter is a good means of doing that.  Twitter is especially good at expressing what I’m thinking in real time.  While blogs are good for sit down thought provoking means, Twitter is in the moment capturing thoughts and ideas.  Major sporting events, TV shows/movies or news events are now covered on Twitter.  It has been cool to be able to share my thought in real time to those events and to follow those events as well.  Twitter has been a great way to keep up with friends that are far away as we can have quick little conversations about life and events.  It has also been a really cool way to connect with celebrities and athletes in a way I never thought I would.  I have had twitter conversations with some pretty famous people and it has been really cool.

The bad:

There are some downsides to Twitter.  One major one being the 140 characters limit.  It is hard sometimes to express all you want with those limitations.  Sometimes it takes a couple of tweets in a conversation to convey one’s thought completely.  Also it’s hard to have very extended dialogue on twitter with someone.  Twitter is a great starting off point and a way to have some conversations but it doesn’t substitute other means of conversations.

The ugly:

Like most things, Twitter can be used for evil as well as good.  The ugly side is how some people use Twitter.  They use it as a means of attacking other people.  I’ve seen it (and some ways experienced it as well) how mean and cruel some people can be on Twitter by the things they say.  Curse words beyond belief, vulgar language and even hateful threats are thrown out by people.  Not even that, there is the tendency to be snarky and mean on twitter that seems to be prevalent at times as well.  It is sad but this is a part of the way of life on Twitter.

Thoughts:

For all the faults and wrinkles, I think Twitter is a pretty cool thing.  It is a great means of expressing one’s ideas as well as one’s faith.  It is also something that has to be used responsibly.  If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have to watch what you tweet.  I know this is something I always keep in mind when I write something down on Twitter.  I check it before I tweet because I know as soon as I send it that I’m responsible for what I tweet.  Whether I’m tweeting a bible verse, a thought or reflection on something God is teaching me, a quick conversation with a friend or celebrity, or something about a news or sporting event, I want to tweet something that reflects my faith in Jesus Christ and doesn’t deter from that.  That can be hard sometimes, because just like speaking it’s easy to say something and not think about the words used.  We as followers of Jesus are called to be salt and light.  Twitter is another avenue to do just that.  So the next time you break out your smartphone or get online at your computer to tweet, think about what you tweet.  Like I said, Twitter is a pretty cool thing and can be a valuable asset when used responsibly.