Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Wix, Klout, Storify…the social media explosion can feel overwhelming! I went to a seminar a couple of nights ago on Image Repair in the Digital Age. As part of that, we were challenged to share what we learned. And, lately, I’ve been learning a lot about traditional media versus new media usage. Beyond my required interest because of my degree program, I am personally shocked by the sheer expanse of media platforms.
Reading article after article on the importance of staying up with technology only serves to confirm that I am not. My basic flip phone and I coexist happily (when I remember to turn it on and take it with me). I want to live simply and dealing with countless different social networking sites seems complicated, confusing, and well, the opposite of simple.
So, why does it matter? Because whether the speck in my eye keeps me from seeing it or not, I am living in this media-saturated world even if I don’t embrace it. Classes in college required me to open a LinkedIn account, a blog made sense when we were traveling, and well, everyone has a Facebook, right? But, it never occurred to me that these things say something about me. If someone were to google me, these online things would be “me” to them.
On one hand, what do I care. On the other hand, as a Christian, I should be striving for excellence in all areas, which doesn’t mean I have to have a profile on every online media platform, but it does mean I should care about what people perceive about me if they will then project that on to what they think about Jesus Christ and His followers.
So here’s what I’ve deduced from all that I’ve heard and read recently. We don’t have to be active in every new media, but if we open an account, we are responsible. We don’t want to be lazy, sloppy, or seem that way. I think our reputation through online media can go three ways:
1. We live with integrity and it is evident.
2. We live carelessly and it is evident.
3. We live carelessly and spend lots of time maintaining our “image” to create a desired reputation.
I guess it boils down to this: how are we using these sites? As E. Stanley Jones said, “Whatever gets your attention gets you.” If we let these saturate our daily activity, we let them become our whole focus. Rather, I think these can be strong tools if we keep our attention on Christ, and we use them to keep us accountable to showing the fullness of Christ in us. If I live simply and with integrity, I can be transparent on these sites and using these modern tools won’t be a pain to maintain. Sure, they will require some work at times, but they will be worth the work if it connects me as a representative of Christ to other people.