My husband made an observation some months back while trying to send me an online article for later reading: it is hard to just send someone an article anymore. The assumption is that everyone has a Twitter and/or Facebook account. So, very recently, he bit the proverbial bullet and became a Twitter enrollee. After a few weeks of orientation/ experimentation, he and I recently had a conversation that went something like this:
Hubby: “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t get anyone to respond to me!”
Me: “Well, who are you following?”
Hubby lists the few people/ organizations that he follows.
Me: “It looks like you’re following people who don’t tweet that much, or people who only tweet as PR for their jobs. You might have to back up and just find people who share your same interests, and people who actually tweet. You might search according to your hobbies or…”
I felt funny advising him as to how to find people and make friends (?) via social networking. I’m very much a novice, and there’s much that I need to learn. Initially hesitant, if not outright suspicious, of social media, it took me a while to embrace these tools—and I do mean tools—as being potentially effective. I never had a MySpace account. I’ve made conscious decisions not to join Linked In; I don’t “Digg” anything, nor do I “Stumble Upon” anything. At this point, I am strictly a blog/Facebook/ Twitter person.
I’ll confess that, when first introduced to Twitter, I didn’t contemplate getting involved that much. I signed up for it somewhat by accident, but was hooked after seeing how I could quickly keep up with a friend and/or family member or two. It took me a while to pick up the art of stating something about myself in 140 characters, and then making it entertaining enough for people to actually appreciate it and respond. It took a bit more time for me to extend myself past people that I knew and learn how to seek out people that had my same interests.
Facebook I gave a lot more thought to before signing up. I’d heard so much about the privacy issues, and there are some concerns. I grow concerned each time I sign onto CNN.com and see the articles that my friends recommended: how does CNN know who my Facebook friends are? I grow concerned when students say to me, “I looked you up on Facebook…” It’s an invasion of my privacy, as far as I’m concerned, and it makes me wary about employers and others who look and make judgments.
Another point of confusion for me was that no one could tell me how their Facebook account differed that much from their blog. By that time, I’d put so much energy into developing my blog, and I thought that one more social network would take me totally away from those items that I consider to be more about purpose. I decided, slowly but surely, to give Facebook a try after several friends in small business endeavors convinced me that I was missing out from a business standpoint by not getting on board.
I probably put more way more thought into all of this than was necessary. Everything doesn’t have to be a heady exercise in reflection, or is it a life-and-death decision regarding typing a few lines about what’s going in your life. “Tweeting” and mini-blogging (which I consider Facebook to be) can be fun, efficient, and in its own way relaxing. I get that. In fact, I played around in the early stages of watching the Superbowl, tweeting about all my observations. One of my followers later pointed out that Christina Aguilera’s botching of the lyrics to the National Anthem got more press than the latest news from Cairo (‘good to know we have our priorities straight,’ she posts). She’s right, but hey, it was funny for the time that I stayed online, and I needed the respite as I watched my Steelers go down for the count. But in order to be a good steward of the time God gives me, I debated internally, and rather seriously, how I might use all of this to my advantage without becoming a slave to any of it. I know people who spend a significant portion of their day on Facebook, or blogging, or on some other point of connectivity via the web. I know some who pay outrageous phone bills just to stay in touch with it all. I know the amount of time that it takes me to craft a blog entry, which is the reason that I only post, at most, twice weekly. I just choose to do something different with the time I have.
So, at the end of the day, how do I use social media networks?
Blogging—still my favorite of all the ways to connect over the Internet, I pen my heart and mind in the hopes of ministering to others like me, making real connections, and allowing my customers to meet the person behind the products.
Facebook—FB is great for linking with friends and family and sharing photos and quick pics of life as it exists here. Its major function for me, however, is to share short stories and links that interest me, to find out more about my FB friends, and to jot down thoughts and happenings that don’t necessarily warrant an extensive blog entry.
Twitter—Twitter is what it is—140 characters to very quickly say what you are doing right now. For one who talks to herself quite a bit, this is a neat way to get some of those random thoughts down in one spot, and where else can you meet amazing business connections by telling someone how absolutely uneventful your life really is :-)?
Recently in her 31 Days of Blog Ministry, Amy Bayliss posted about blog purpose and niche, and suggested reading Hebrews 13 as a place of prayer and seeking God about your blog’s purpose. This was a blog-changing, if not a life-changing, exercise for me. For some strange reason, I didn’t like my blog being labeled as a “marriage and family” blog, as one reader referred to it; I wanted to be something more. But as I read through Hebrews 13, it began to resonate with me that marriage and family are high callings, and viewing the writing of them as boring was a rejection of the gifts and blessings I’ve been given. If I can eloquently depict a house where God is first and foremost, where peace exists and health and wholeness reign in spite of all that isn’t here, I am indeed blessed and highly favored. Many cannot. Comments and “likes” should never be the concern when we are aligned with God’s assignment for us. He role models the nature of truly effective ministry, reaching one here, changing the life of ten there, and teaching twelve at a most intimate level. So, having said that, here are the guidelines I use for how I interact on any social medium:
- Make straight paths for your feet… Romans 12:13 (Bullard living translation: Be clear in your communication)
- Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without no moan shall see the Lord…Hebrews 13:?
- Let brotherly love continue…Hebrews 13:1
- The Lord is my helper, and I will fear not what man shall do unto me…Hebrews 13:6
- …the fruit of our lips give thanks to His name…Hebrews 13:15
- Making you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight…Hebrews 13:21
As I stated before, by no stretch of the imagination would anyone call me an expert; I’m still learning so much about how to navigate these networks and how to put them to best use for my wants and needs. These are simply my ramblings musings, and my own follow-up thoughts from my husband’s tweeting dilemma. I am curious, though: how do you use social media?