I am 31 going on 70. People have said as much and it's pretty true. In high school - no kidding - I used to watch Bonanza at while eating lunch before I headed to work. (I did a co-op program where I went to school half a day and worked half a day.) I really like old people and that's probably because I am one at heart. I am also pretty independent - or a loner if you want to be rude about it.
So when this whole social media whippersnappery came to the picture in college, I naturally thought it was stupid. People posted away messages on Facebook and tried to make some clever comment that people would like, something that would make them sound interesting and popular.
Things haven't changed much.
So I came up before social media existed and I got to see it evolve, the whole time crossing my arms and thinking how ridiculous it is. And it can be.
But now I am all in. And my mouth tastes like feet. After all of these years of making fun of social media, I'm in. God has a sense of humor, and it is directed at my pride. The joke is plenty funny.
When I started writing Walking Through Walls I realized I needed to blog and start to crawl out of my hole to enter the new century. This book means the world to me and so I want to make sure it sells - and you don't sell books while living in a hole. Not in today's world. Publishers talk about "platforms" and what not. So, frankly, I kind of backed into social media.
But there is way more to social media than just making an appearance. Big honking eternal importance and…joy.
In Reflection on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis writes:
"I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”
Bingo. I thought that social media was a useless trifle of meaninglessness - of people sharing too many feelings and way too many kid pictures and a bunch of political drivel that pisses everyone off in the comments. But I was wrong with this blanket assessment.
We are social creatures made in God's image, designed to interact with one another and share life. Like Lewis explains, our joy and value is rightly expressed in a shared experience. That's why going to the movies alone feels weird, even though you don't talk during the movie. We want to experience life together, nudging our friends - did you see that? Sharing pictures and bad days and good days, we are simply living life with other people.
Now surely we can agree that there are piles of garbage on social media. Still, the platform of social media has no inherent moral plus or minus. It is what we make it. We can encourage, inspire, and share or we can stir up conflict and waste people's time.
The Gospel is a unilateral expression of love. Meaning Jesus went first and died for us before we were even born. His death on the cross makes room for us to love Him back, but it started with Him going first - and so too as Christians we must love with an understanding that our love may terminate on the other person. What does this have to do with social media? Well maybe once we understand the value of social media and push off from that, we can understand that shares and likes and comments are not the goal. Refreshing your phone a million times won't make people interact with what you've posted - I've tried. No, the point is to love God and love others, regardless of the response, if any.
So we can post what builds others up and we can share what we make (art, business, etc.) - and we can share ourselves. We can have fun with social media and try to figure out what being a Christian looks like in pixels. It's a learning process.
So, because I'm down with social now, it would be great to connect with you. May God bless your tweets and posts and the 54th picture of your kid laying with your dog.