Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Social Media For Good: An Idea

At 18 I had a revolutionary moment that changed my outlook on my life forever. And it's still changing it, one little piece at a time.

 I think my generation rode the initial "fame" wave, you know, where every kid wants to be famous and that's their highest aspiration in life. I wanted to be famous. (I still kind of do, but reality regularly brings me back down to size.) I especially wanted to be a famous author, the kind where everyone raves about his or her work and gobbles up each book. I wanted to have my book on front-and-center display at bookstores with a cool-looking cover that cried out to passers-by, "Read me!!!"

When I applied and got into Moody Bible Institute (for those who don't know, Moody's sole aim is to prepare students to enter full-time ministry upon graduation), I was about 50 percent sure I wanted to do ministry. I thought it sounded like a great and worthy idea, but I also knew my chances of scoring a ministry job weren't that high, and I was fine with that. I would do anything, work at a newspaper or magazine, and then get my big-author break.

One night I was sitting in my dorm room, mulling over my fame-dom aspirations when a thought slowly struck me. It started out with the concept of death, every person dies someday and usually when they die they're forgotten, except for what they leave behind. If I was just going to be fame-greedy, my life wouldn't amount to much once I was gone. Besides, if the earth was going to be destroyed by fire in the end, anything I did leave behind would eventually get burned.

I sort of had a mini-panic attack in that moment, feeling like no matter what I did, at some point it would become worthless. The fame would get me nowhere, and worse still, it wouldn't get anyone else anywhere either. In that moment I decided one thing: the only real good I could do with my life would be to in some small way, bring good to others and to hopefully help bring them to Christ. People, after all, are the only thing that's eternal upon this earth. How, when, where, this good would happen, those were all variables. But the end goal, that I knew. And from there my 50 percent desire for ministry turned into 100 percent and I was sold.
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I share this story to give some background into why I'm advocating for this concept of social media for good. It all goes back to the idea that at the bottom line, our actions/lives/achievements are nothing if they do not bring good to others. I love using social media, but it can end up being the biggest waste of space, time, life and emotions. And that's on a good day. Sadly, social media is often used for anything but good (think cyber-bullying for starters).

History has taught us that the only way real change can happen is if people live out the change they want to see, to do it, embrace it, become it. That's the only way to turn social media into a worthwhile use of time, to redeem it into something for good. I'll be the first to say I don't want to hear about my little brother or the high schoolers I work with or my possible future kids being bullied on Facebook. I don't want to see another picture of a student who was tormented into suicide. And I don't want to go through the day posting things that are worthless, obnoxious, false or demeaning to anyone.

And that, friends, is why I'm choosing to do social media for good. It's a conscious effort to use social media platforms to bring good to others. Again, how, when, where, those are all variables, and really they don't matter. What matters is posting content, comments, messages (etc.) that uplift, encourage, (kindly) challenge and spread positive messages to your audience. The great thing we all know about social media is that content spreads. Something you post will inevitably get picked up and re-posted by someone else, who is now sharing it with all their friends. Imagine overtaking social media with all things good and turning it into a place where people actually feel good about themselves.

As a caveat, this is not to encourage people to ignore real-world problems and issues and act like everything's a cake walk. I think it's important to read/watch the news and talk about what's going on in the world. My goal in this is to help create a community where people don't feel run-down every time they log onto their account, and to create a community of positivity, truth and kindness.

Will this take over the social media sphere? Probably not. There's so much working against the idea of real good that sometimes we forget it exists. But that doesn't matter. I'm not hoping for world domination or a slow takeover. I'm just hoping to reach a few friends and maybe through that, they'll reach a few friends. I'm hoping to lift up a few people and help remind them, even on something like Facebook, that they are important and loved. I'm just hoping to do some good.

If you want to join me in doing social media for good, that is awesome! It doesn't require any steps to be part of the club. :) I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea and if you're joining in. Please post a comment (here, on Facebook, wherever) or message me. And if you feel like sharing this post, together we can get the message out.

1 comment:

Pam Manners said...


I would love to join you in this effort. I do more than enjoy your posts -- I'm often moved and convicted by them. I learn from them. They make me think.

I see too many posts on social media sites that are negative, frivolous, hurtful, discouraging, ignorant, etc. And I'm saddened to say that I've often added my voice to these dysfunctional Greek choruses.

I agree we shouldn't sugarcoat our words and act like everything is sunshine and roses. We -- I need to be intentional about the things we share and how we share them.

Thank you Elise, for your constant inspiration.

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