I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year pushing myself into social media. One of the first networks I joined almost a decade ago was Facebook, primarily as a way to keep in touch with extended family and old friends. But this past year, I really started thinking of new ways to use the digital sphere particularly as a tool for evangelism. My most active platform has been Twitter, but even this blog also came out of this process. My husband jokes when I use the phrase “social media personality,” but that was my goal from the beginning – to develop a digital presence where I can be 100% myself.
But in recent weeks, I have become more and more frustrated with Facebook. I can’t exclusively blame this on the network itself. Actually, most of my feelings came out of a paper I wrote for a class about the Christian Mission in today’s world. For the paper, I read a book by Keith Anderson and Elizabeth Drescher called Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible. It’s a great book that explores how to use social media as a tool for ministry. But what did this book really do for me? It taught me to rethink social media as our set of tools. Okay, that probably doesn’t make sense, but hang in there.
When writing my paper (which I might publish here someday), I started realizing that just as we use social media as a set of tools, social media uses us as a tool. Social networks survive by showing us things they think we’ll click on. They thrive by spying on our actions in order to show us things that they anticipate we want to see, while secretly hiding those things which we actually do want to see. And worst of all, they sell this data to turn a profit. Money makes the world go ’round – sure – no social networks are truly ‘free’ (except for Ello). Still, I need to pull the plug. Social media are evangelization tools. But I’m not willing to let a social network exploit or censor my proclamation of the gospel. So, Facebook, you’ve been chopped. Your golden idols have clouded your judgement. Your actions have made you ritually unclean. Your worship of Mammon has caused you to outlive your usefulness. You must be excommunicated.
In the coming year I plan to continue my use of social media, not only as an evangelization tool but as a way to encounter the world – on all the same networks except Facebook. I was excited to receive an invitation to Ello. I’m glad Flickr is able to handle my growing photography collection. I’m one of the forty-or-so people still holding on to Google+. And I’m still completely addicted to Twitter. So if you notice I’m not on Facebook anymore, it’s not because I hate you. I wasn’t mad at you, and I didn’t block you. I simply need to run away from the commercial aspects of social networking that gets in the way of sharing my faith. And in the meantime, I hope you will still keep in touch – there are social links in the upper right corner of my blog.
I wish you many new beginnings and a blessed new year!