Social Networking: All About Jesus or All About Me ?
To date I am proud to say that I have been able to resist the lure of social networking. While I have an email account and a ‘ low tech’ mobile phone, I have deliberately avoided opening Facebook , Twitter and Linkedin accounts.
Despite my ‘carmudgeonly ’refusal to fully engage with social networking, its’ rise in recent times has been impressive and its’ effects revolutionary.
Facebook has 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users and more than 42 million pages and 9 million apps. Twitter has 500 million total users, of whom more than 200 million are active users. LinkedIn which enables business and professional users to post their profile and link to others with similar interests, skills and aspirations has 200 million users.
Undeniably, social networking has been a tremendous force for good in the world. Information is shared easily and quickly, wealth has been generated and democracy has been enhanced as witnessed in the ‘Arab Spring’.
Christians are beginning to realise the potential of social networking for evangelism and the encouragement and building up of believers. Prayer networking has taken on new meaning when information is about a specific crisis or a general prayer need is relayed via Facebook or similar medium.
So why am I as a born again Christian cautious about social networking. For me it’s all about being aware of the potential pitfalls in social media use. After all, the Bible does tell us that we should guard our hearts and minds and not be conformed to the world.
Let me offer an example. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was so captivated by his own image in a pool of water that it became his undoing. He became totally self-absorbed because he failed to understand and control the low-tech medium of a reflective pool. Without a clear understanding of the pitfalls in areas of social networking culture, there is a similar potential to be stealthily led towards idolatry.
In the late nineteenth century an American visiting Britain attended a meeting addressed by the greatest preacher of the day called Joseph Parker. After the meeting a friend asked the American’s opinion of the preacher. His reply was that he had indeed seen and listened to a great man. Some weeks later, the American attended a rally addressed by another preacher called Charles Hadden Spurgeon. Once again his opinion was sought at the conclusion of the meeting. The American replied that he attended the rally to hear Spurgeon, but had seen Jesus !
I wonder if Spurgeon was alive today what would his social networking profile look like............ Would it be all about Spurgeon or all about Jesus ?