Earlier this week I sat in a conference room with a colleague, waiting for a few more to join us for a meeting. In typical 2021 fashion, we had our phones out and were taking care of odds and ends while we waited. He turned to me and said,
“Explain it to me, Shannon. What is the redeeming quality of social media? I just don’t get it.”
For the record, he is 33 years old. Not one of our more “seasoned” staff members. We had a good laugh together for a moment, knowing we both understood the pitfalls of time spent feverishly up-keeping a life in the social media world. It was an ironic conversation to be having given that I have spent a percentage of every working week for the past month asking our community (including staff) at FCC to engage in the social media world using our hashtag.
I actually didn’t answer him in that moment – I can’t quite remember why – but I’d like to spend a few moments giving it a shot here today. I can’t speak for the average social media user, and I definitely can’t defend social media as an arena for life’s most valuable relationships and experiences. But I can share why I use social media and why I think #fccsummer21 is worth considering adding to your posts (or maybe even creating a post for):
and social media gives me a place to have a “shout it from the rooftops” experience. 9 out of 10 times this has to do with my kids. Yes, if you scroll through my page, you are not going to find anything amazingly interesting or daringly relevant…it will be more like looking at your Aunt Sylvia’s vacation photo album. But it brings me joy nonetheless (just like Aunt Sylvia- that’s why she does it, by the way). When I’m lucky, there are at least a few people who choose to share my joy with me and affirm it by liking, loving, laughing, or posting a kind comment. I enjoy doing the same for others.
I used to live by the mantra that you make time for what is important. And in, general, I think looking at your calendar is a great way to begin evaluating a life that feels out of balance. But I have learned over the years it's not fair to quickly dismiss the value of a “once a year” friend (or, for that matter, a once every 5 years kind of friend). The beauty of social media is that it can help the re-entry point feel less awkward. We all know how great it is to have someone with whom you can“pick right back up where we left off”. But social media can help along the still meaningful relationships where that magical chemistry is not so present. Instead of saying, “So, how have you been? What’s new?” (or scrambling to answer the same…oh, Lord please help this introvert make the good small talk this encounter requires!), I can say, “I saw you and the family were in Florida…” We never know who God may want to reconnect us with for heavenly purposes. Social media is just another pathway he can work his plan along.
If I have a message worth sharing, a culture worth influencing, a gospel worth spreading, then I need to get where people are.
I’m not talking about using social media as a soapbox for niche kinds of religious or political interests. I’m talking about connecting the people I know, however distant, with the most meaningful ideas, practices, and places that are a real part of my life.
That’s part of what I love about #fccsummer21. Every time I use it, I get to remind people in my online community that even though it is summertime, and I may be a little MIA, my relationships are still the most important thing in my life. Whether I’m letting you all know what I’m up to or modeling the time I’m still taking to connect with others, it's all meant to be a way of saying, “Hey! My life matters and so does yours. Let’s do some of it together.”
The redeeming quality of any experience we are unsure of are the people who choose to take the opportunity to be kind and show the way to light. Even the most tragic conditions find beauty emerging when human souls decide to take care of one another and seek each other’s good. Some may experience the world of social media as a vast playground for personal expression and networking. Others may find it a dangerous landscape for echo chamber ideologies. Most of us fall somewhere in between.
We can all choose to use social media to share the goodness of God and the blessing of real-world, meaningful relationships.
I believe there are many there who would love to receive and be inspired by our message.
Like it. Love It. Or just keep scrolling. #fccsummer21