A Warning About Social ‘ME’dia

By Justin Lathrop

Social MediaLet’s go back a few years to when you first started noticing the potential social media could have (circa 2006) . . . back to the days when the idea of creating a community of friends in a digital world excited you. Remember the days you actually had to ask if a person was on Facebook?

Social media not only connected us with old high school friends and new acquaintances, but also with people around the world who shared our same interests. Sites like Facebook Causes drew people together, enabling us to bond over something greater than ourselves. It was a new collaborative technology to help us impact the world. And it was awesome.

Since then, there’s been a shift in the fundamental thinking about social media. As more people join the movement, it becomes less about social interaction and more about persona building. If we’re honest, the chance to become a social media rock star has captivated our focus and intentions. It’s more about the “me” than about the “we.” Unfortunately, the Church community is not immune.

The problem is that we’ve created a whole new standard for social behavior that is often quite contrary to how we would relate to people in person. Consider when someone gives you a compliment in person, in front of others; you don’t repeat the compliment to the crowd or pull the person to the side and whisper thanks. Yet, in social media, we are quick to reTweet our compliments or send the person a direct message saying thanks. Interesting, isn’t it?

Now, I’m just as guilty of these things as the next guy. When we stop being social, we lose what this new media is all about. We’ve forfeited an opportunity to make a real difference in the world when we trade “we” behaviors for “me” behaviors. 

However, there is still hope. Jon Acuff has worked hard to develop his platform, but he decided to use it to make a tangible difference in the lives of kids in India and Africa. Hope Mob is an organization that is leveraging Twitter to make a tangible difference in the lives of people across the country.

So what does this mean for us? Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Google+, may we never forget the reason social media became so popular in the first place: We can do more together than we can on our own. And may we carefully guard against forfeiting something bigger than ourselves just to make our own name big.

What advice do you have about guarding yourself from social “ME”dia?

Justin Lathrop

With over a dozen years of local church ministry Justin has spent the last several years starting business' and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv all while staying involved in the local church.

Justin is obsessed with connecting people to people and lives his life daily to make the world a smaller place. He now serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominately working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.

He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at www.justinlathrop.com.