Early Days

Well, today, we are not going to look at the googled definitions of social media and write a typical paper on the said subject. Let’s look back at where it all started. For an average Indian teenager it started with having a Y messenger & Orkut account. For the first time we had an opportunity to say ‘hi’ to someone in a virtual space, we had an option to create an alter ego, and to make a connection with a total stranger other than our regular hangout gang. I have always asked myself what it is all about that pulled my friends into the whirlpool of digital world, rather than a football game or any other conventional way of engaging our free times. This was behavioral change amongst youth who were in search of instant gratification and acceptance.

The present times: Like, tweet, pin & follow:

FaceBook: Good or bad?
Moving on, we grow up & are introduced to FaceBook. Since then, we call it social media. But in actual it should be called the digital social media, isn’t so? Also it didn’t just start with FaceBook nor does it end with FaceBook. The start of social media was when my friends logged in chat rooms back in 90s. But we didn’t have a term for it then. And, foresightedly, Mark Zuckerburg saw the imminent need in his college friends to boast about their late night parties and to connect with neighboring college students without physically leaving the four-walled campus. And eureka..he created FaceBook.

Initially it was the only “in thing” at my workspace..People whom we meet every day would send friendship request on FB. Wasn’t that funny? There are pros and cons both. Pros is that as the circle widens, people can internally find someone with whom their social, business or intellectual needs can be met. But then this is the main purpose of FB. To increase and maintain our social network and generate best interests for both the parties involved in this network. This is a positive outcome of expanding our virtual social network. The ugly side is that in this expansion, we can befriend some psychopaths too. Which eventually brings us to the main question: is social media bad? Absolutely not. It’s the fallen human nature and mind which is the source of all evil in the world.James1:14,15.Hence, with the sense of discernment, kindly choose and select whom all do you want to include in your social network. 1 Cor 2:15a
Now, though FaceBook is termed as social networking site, there are many more. Like, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, Youtube,Reddit, Quora,Wikipedia,Blogger and others. Every site has a different purpose and each of us as per our personality can associate with different social platforms. For me, I am not much into clicking pictures and all, rather I want to write stuff either on current affairs or any said topic. Hence, I personally prefer Twitter as it suits my personality & my needs. You guys need to find what it is that would describe you best.

Twitter: love words,intellectual need to be updated and opine,less social.

Facebook: Highly Social,want to belong and keep in touch,need to be updated in all that is happening in your friends’ life.

LinkedIn: No-nonsense type,highly utilitarian,career-driven,need to be updated on his industry leaders and follows them

Instagram: Visual storyteller,highly social,creative,love aesthetics,sentimental.

Pinterest: Visual curator of all fine things.

Some pointers for online etiquettes that might help you:

Certain mindset needs to be altered and embraced:

  • Social networking is not evil. We need to be a part of it.
  • Don’t spiritualize the means of communication. Rather let it be a way of being vocal about your spirituality.
  • Do’s and don’ts of Online behavior:
  • It should not take away our time from family and work.
  • You should not be addicted to it. (like when you wake up every day the first thing you do is log in your social network).
  • Learn to prioritize. Set apart specific hour of the day for this activity. Never during office or college hours.
  • Classify your posts as per your interests before hand. Don’t do random posting.
  • If you are 24/7 connected to your social network via your mobile, learn to mute the notifications during work hours. Try to distance yourself from the urge of continuously looking at the screen.
  • Start from praying about your online behavior and its impact on the society.
  • Don’t be a narcissist who is obsessed about himself and just goes on uploading umpteen pictures of him daily.
  • Don’t put your intimate or other such mundane stuff for the world at large to see.
  • Follow influential people in the political scenario of our country.Also socialworkers, actors, cricketers etc. who are in a leadership position to influence people.
  • As evangelicals, our duty is to pray for the ruling government. Hence if all of us rather than condemning the government if we write every morning to PM Narendra Modi (or any such official for whom God gives you burden) that Sir,have a blessed day, I prayed for you today!! If he receives such positive messages from us all 365 days wouldn’t he at least start thinking. And we know not how miraculously our Living God works.
  • Keep yourself updated with the latest happenings in the world around you.For eg., There is a latest trending swipe on twitter which you need to read every day and comment on the issues. Now these comments or FB daily updates of pictures and words are the most basic things which shall make your online presence felt.
  • Write stuff and opine only if you are sure of the issues. Otherwise understand thoroughly and then write.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge and react. Think patiently. Never be defensive in writing about what you firmly believe, especially, Our faith in Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Write as if the opposite person is physically sitting next to you. So don’t offend his faith or feelings.
  • A daily post with a Bible verse wishing good morning to all your online friends is the easiest way.
  • All the posts or tweets or images you share should reflect your personality. If personality is friendly/warm/inspiring/playful/authoritative then your post tone should be personal/humble/clinical/honest/direct.
  • Your writing should be simple and not full of jargons and complexity.
  • Also if there is any online debate going on eg., #missionaries of charity India, we need to be active members in such forums.We need to speak the truth but with grace. Col. 4:6. Trust me, people from other faiths see this in us and then they support us.
  • We can compose songs, videos on social issues like ‘save water’ etc and make them viral on YouTube starting with what does the Bible say about Creation and stewardship and how are we supposed to take care of the environment.
  • And the most important thing is always check and assess yourself. Is your social presence glorifying yourself or God? What is your true motive in being socially online? Are you running away from the socially offline world?

Also we need to create online social communities with our fellow brothers and sisters(whom we don’t know) who are being persecuted or trolled online. We need to find such groups and actively voice out our support when we see anti-Christian views being propagated by so-called atheists or friends of other faith.

When I am writing this, I see #ParisAttacks trending in the world. And sadly there was no one in the first 24 hours to write on hope & eternal Light which this world needs. All were asking Is God alive and stuff so depressing because they don’t have answers. And it’s the right time to comfort them and graciously speak the Truth.

People in our church who say we should stay away from social media would not have read the social dinner incident of Jesus at Simon the leper (Matt 25:6). Jesus all throughout His ministry touched all the stratas of society. If He were here today, He would have posted his dinner gala selfies at Simon’s house or the other party incident at Zacchaeus’s house. He must have tweeted #HypocritepPharisees after the Sabbath healing incident. He would have instagrammed the Cana wedding pictures with the bride and groom and he would have received thousand likes for sure. He would have told Peter to write a blog on his travel expeditions & learnings.Every night Peter would write on traveling from village to village and the amazing miracles that shaped them.His blog would be the highest grosser of the week and probably he would be nominated as the blogger of the year. Paul too would have created an online network of the churches he visited and he would posted the various financial needs, spiritual needs and writen daily to them as we can see from the letters he has written.

Friends, it’s high time we made our online social presence felt as a God-fearing, Christian community.

kerenMs keren khambhata is a media planner by work & preparing for Research , currently residing in Surat

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