So you may have seen The Social Dilemma. If not, it’s a recent Netflix documentary outlining the dangerous impacts of social media.
If it’s not the way it incites comparison within us or the constant battle for our attention that negatively affects us, then it’s the division it creates within culture.
You’re probably familiar with how watching one video on a topic seems to suddenly lead to a whole host of related content appearing on your social media feed. The algorithm provides us with the information (or more often misinformation) we want to hear, perpetuating political and societal division. And unlike face to face interactions, we’re unable to have compassionate and empathetic discussion which leads to further polarising opinions.
The Social Dilemma makes it clear that when it comes to social media, we need to proceed with caution.
Changing the narrative
But I want to suggest that we can acknowledge the negatives without completely disregarding the positives. We hold them together in tension. And with social media, we have an incredibly unique opportunity and a level of influence that’s hard to come by elsewhere.
What if Christians were the ones transforming and shaping every sphere, even social media, with the love, hope and peace of Jesus? We might not be able to control the algorithm, but we can certainly control the way we conduct ourselves online.
Speak up and judge fairly. Defend the rights of the poor and needy.Proverbs 31:9
Multiple justice movements have begun, and if not grown on social media. Think of Blue for Sudan and more recently #PayUp and Black Lives Matter. There’s real evidence to suggest that engaging and speaking up for justice in the social media space can lead to real and tangible change. For example, #PayUp is a campaign that began on social media, demanding that clothing brands pay for cancelled orders over the Covid-19 lockdown. The immense pressure put on brands led many of them to comply.
With great power…
Whether you have a large following or a small private account, you have a sphere of influence. Use it to spread awareness, tell stories, fundraise, and signpost people towards action. Be encouraged that our pursuit of justice has a unique flavour to it because of the hope that we have. It’s a joy to be able to point people towards that.
Therefore, encourage and build one another up.1 Thessalonians 5:11
It sometimes feels like social media is synonymous with negative thought patterns. And unfortunately, the world is seriously lacking in encouragement right now. So let’s champion people in the online space. Encourage others in their creativity, support your friends’ small businesses, and share Jesus with others. If we’re going to exist here, we may as well make it a space of encouragement.
This article isn’t meant to be an encouragement to use social media more or less. I’m not at all suggesting that if you don’t use it, you are neglecting some huge opportunity. Social media is only healthy and beneficial to us if it serves us, rather than we it.
But if you do have a platform, be it 30 or 10,000 followers, then this is an encouragement to steward it well. Speak up against injustice, encourage others and point people to the incredible hope that we have in Jesus.