Social Media: Rules of Engagement

Once you say something it is hard to retract, though not impossible. Once you write something retraction is virtually impossible. Once you tweet something it is all over red rover. There is no coming back. Lazarus himself would have been tweeted (hounded) back into the tomb, being told he can’t possibly be raised from the dead. It’s unacceptable, discriminatory, and raises false hopes.

You will be held to account for every last letter, and if you said something ill advised, spur of the moment stuff, even playfully, you will be tried, judged, and executed by the new guillotine – social media. (In fact it is hardly social at all).

Human nature guarantees that social media – touted as being such a boon to the world, life changing – will inevitably descend into the abyss of less than humane human responses: jealousy, hatred, and all sorts of despicable me.

We are attaching actual value to how many followers we have, how often we are retweeted, liked, clicked and ticked.

We are told we don’t exist unless we are online. Last time I checked (not Facebook) I am still self-aware and exist aside from any online profile – happily so. Would to God more people realized, ‘what is a man profited if he has the most followers, and, in so doing, loses his soul?’ In fact I would suggest the more followers you clamor to have the more vacuous you are likely to be.

Not that is it is all doom and gloom. Social Media can be informative, fun, connective, and interesting, as in human nature can surprise, delight and thrill us.

How do we effectively use this medium? Are there rules of engagement that ensure we make the most of a mass means of communication that can have positive value?

We should be using all and every means to promote whatever is honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.

Make the most of the capacity to communicate truth, love, and life. And sprinkle it with fun.

Social media is a great means of encouraging others, instead of the all to common trend of assassinating them.

Encouragement gives courage. Champion each other with a barrage of likes and retweets.

It is great for pithy sayings, although not a lot of people are capable of them.

Beauty should be celebrated, as should virtue – the latter is harder, granted, in 140 letters or a photo.

Promote good things, and not the angst of others.

Engage others rather than merely pontificating.

There is much that can be done to add to our experience, and not detract from it, to lift our spirit and inspire us.

what’s not to love?

It is a great way to connect with people in a manner that 1000 words may not, unless you are a literary writer. I love to see my family, their smiles, their little joys, their daily lives. It is personal. It works.

It is an excellent medium (although I have never actually met one) to capture a moment, something beautiful – as attested by any number of sunrise and sunsets – or a scene worth sharing, an event from a personal perspective.

A holiday, a wedding, a meeting, a meal. Friends together.

It can be a lot of fun – silly captions and word plays.

All good harmless fun, promoting connectivity otherwise not easily available, and a chance to be a little creative.

So …

what’s not to hate?

Selfies – an ugly obsession, even if you are beautiful.

The perception that everything you do is amazing, every place you go is exotic. Heaven help your friends if they can’t match your fabulous life – which I happen to know you don’t lead.

Photos of the food you are about to consume – when else would you invite the world to your table, and how big can a steak be?

Sayings as banal as they are short. Solomon would blanch.

Likes. How many did I get? They always get more! How can I boost my likes?

It has been 10 minutes since I last looked. See you later.

word of caution…

Social Media is a place to express anything you like, so it would seem, but seeing as we march to a different beat we may need to consider some strictures on our expression for the sake of the following.

One, least considered, is that we all represent each other. We need to consider, does what we write, comment on, text, tweet, re-tweet, or like, represent C3 and its generally accepted non- partisan approach, especially in regards politics? Does it represent faith, hope, and love? Does it represent the mindset and attitude of the leader of C3 –Phil Pringle?

Secondly, in the early days of C3 we made a decision to include in our Policy that our pulpits were to be for the preaching of the Gospel, not for personal gain, and that we would do all we could to avoid contentious and/or political statements or political parties, named Christian or not.

Our experience was that when we start to make political statements, particularly as they favor one party over another, we are likely to divide the people we are reaching – in that there is no position in politics that is unequivocally Christian. And there never has been as His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus spoke these words to the representative of the most powerful nation in the world, to a man who teased him with his power to release him from death. Jesus wouldn’t have a bar of his offer, nor his claim to any real power.

I stand by this Policy in our church, in a nation deeply divided between Conservative and Democratic Socialist Governments. We have something to say that transcends and dwarfs the powers of this age.

Being partisan in the pulpit robs the pulpit of its power.

We play into the hands of weakness when we propagate a specific party or philosophy.

Thirdly it is very difficult, as in impossible, to follow the injunction of the Apostle Paul to pray for all in authority when we are hammering them on social media – like it or not, our pulpit as well. It is to be remembered the very person he asked the believers to pray for was most likely the one under whose reign Paul was martyred – Nero.

His prayer had little to do with agreeing or not about the polices and practices of the Roman world. He prayed for them so that we might live quiet and peaceable lives, so that the gospel would have free reign, and God His way.

Church history is replete with wonderful examples of how believers interacted with those in authority. Eusebius, the early church historian remarks as to the gracious demeanor of Polycarp shown the arresting officers who were to take him to his death. He made a meal for them and treated them civilly, even lovingly. Even more interesting, and profoundly instructive, is how he addressed the man that was sentencing him to a gruesome death. The Proconsul virtually begged him to foreswear his Christ. Polycarp answered with determined grace but never once personally attacked the man who set him alight.

In short, you can’t pray effectively for people you are condemning. We aren’t being asked to agree with policy, but we are being asked to pray for those whom God has set over us – if we are to believe Paul.

Written by Simon Mcintyre

Simon McIntyre
March 8, 2016

2 thoughts to “Social Media: Rules of Engagement”

Wow, I love your blog!

Ted Taylor says:

Many thanks… for sharing it.

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