I have heard it said many times that engagement on social media is a fantasy that is far removed from real life. For many people I agree that social media, such as Face Book is a format to escape the realities of life. For those people, its all about games and frivolities. It’s a place to build false persona’s. A place to get drawn into mind numbing endless games. Games which have a cost: Those costs can be financial, relational, or precious time its self.
For others social media is used as a marketing strategy, continue conversation and to build networks which are linked to day to day work related activities. New products and services are launched. Old services are revamped. To have a business or organisation on social media gives those org’s some street cred; which those who don’t – well they simply don’t.
Social media for others provide much needed contact with an outside world. These people are home bound, bed bound, hospital or hospice bound. For many reasons: which can include but are not limited to, sickness, injury, infirmity and old age. Social media provides a means for conversation in environments where there is no one in the immediate vicinity to speak with. Skyping, messaging, blogging and facebooking all provide a means to converse with others. It provides an important element in ones social belonging. It provides an important part of identity and acceptance.
Perhaps for many of us who use social media, a combination of all of these points are the reason we use it. I can truthfully say its been my own example. But, is it a way of engaging in real life? It’s critics will say its not. But, I want to say it is.
For the home bound: their reality is being bound to their environment. Being in social contact with the outside world is a reality of experience for them. Networking and engaging with customers is a reality for those business’s. Its a real experience when someone buys a product or service online. The customer is real. The business is real.
But what about the question of faith you ask? Can Christians truly meaningful engage on social media which reflects the reality of life outside the screen of cyberspace. Once again, I will say yes, one can truly engage in real Gospel work, through the media of social media. Note, I say one can truly engage and haven’t said it replaces real life engagement.
For those home bound, perhaps social media engagement provides a link for others to come and visit. The promotion of and invitation to a event is a real invitation for people to take part in, The networking across the world between scholars, pastors, students and laypeople alike is a real engagement of ideas, research and learning.
Today through the media of social media: I was asked by a number of people to pray for them, I noticed a few were doing it tough and prayed for them. There are others who lI have made dates with to meet for coffee and talk life. Another person shared about raising funds for mission and I spoke with them about supporting it, A Muslim far from Australia asked me questions about faith, God and life and we had a fruitful conversation based around Jesus and the forgiveness of sin. (This conversation came out a relationship that was formed through a online game I was involved with a number of years ago) A number of important articles were shared and a mix of light hearted and serious comments were made.
All of those examples are real life experiences. Which shows that social media can be a useful part of reality; and that ones life can have a real expression through the media of social media. Anyways, if you are reading this blog, you are convinced of this reality anyways.