Don’t just LIKE, Be Social

“Don’t just LIKE, Be Social”

The long and short of this post is:

What if we didn’t favorite a tweet, like a post or +1 an image without also commenting?  

I have been looking at the way we use social media and studies that go alone with life satisfaction and what gains traction and what doesn’t. A number of studies have shown the effects of facebook on our mental health.  One of the most notable comes for the University of Michigan which found support for the hypothesis that the more you use facebook the worse you feel.  Check it out here

A little while ago a study was conducted using twitter to show the life-cycle of happy vs unhappy tweets.  Interestingly even happy tweets would at times gain steam because of negative feedback.  Sorry I couldn’t find the source for this one.  You can see another study that attempted to quantify happiness or sadness via tweets.  Though the source and research techniques may be a little more suspect but may uncover a trend.  Check it out here

It shouldn’t be a real surprise that the things that keep coming up seem to be negative or of no real value.  Case and point, this week being all of the talk of the newest Kim Karshshidan pic (mehh) overshadowing the fact that a drone was landed on a comet (super cool).  We see the trend to the negative in television news stories too because they are the ones that get the ratings rather than stories filled with rainbows and unicorns.

So what is social good for?

Being social, of course.

Our social interactions have the potential to make some really powerful connections, but they often lack real interaction.  We like, retweet and plus one things rather than engaging and adding to the conversation.  This may be illustrated when a friend posts that they have just suffered a tragic event or lost someone close to them and there are always a handful of people who respond the the information by pressing the little thumbs up.

Sure there is a kind of social contact that is happening, but there i little fellowship that is happening.  I am reminded of Howard Thurman’s comments as a precursor voice to the civil rights movement who recalled the understanding of contact without fellowship.  Thurman’s reminder of calling us back to true connection and conversation may have application in breaking down a different kind of barrier today.  When we only have the perception of someone else’s story without knowing their story we quickly paint an unfair picture of this person or group.  Or as one pastor puts it:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.Steve Furtick

As we look to the holiday season, we have to realize this is a tough time for many people.  In every church I have served on staff of or volunteered at people mention the pain of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.   I think that there may be a way for all of us to leverage social media for what it was made for, turning a profit through selling our personal information,  making meaningful connections with other people.

The Experiment:

So here is the proposal.  What if we didn’t like, favorite or +1 any social post without adding something to the conversation? 

I think this would do a number of positive things

  1. This may remind us that we are interacting with real people who are living real lives, just like we are.  Often we are comfortable with the anonymity of the web and forget that there is someone on the other end of the interactions
  2. It may foster some real and meaningful interactions that you cannot have through just a click of the mouse or a tap of your finger.
  3. At least in the case of Facebook it may make your social experience more pleasant because the more you interact in a positive way the more Facebook’s algorithm will serve you up a stream of meaningful posts rather than noise and junk.
  4. If we know we are going to interact more thoughtfully we may be more intentional about when and how often we get on our social sites.  Therefore we will get some of our day back.

I may be totally off point, but these are some anecdotal things that I have seen as I have tried to regulate my social media use.  It may be worth a try for you.  I know it has been positive for me.

our-school-family

Our School Family

When we signed Eden up for school last year I didn’t think that we were going to be enfolding her into a family.  When looking for schools that would meet the needs of our oldest daughter we knew we were in need of a place that would let her creativity bloom, and where learning would be a whole person experience rather than just the material being taught on the page.  In preschool she got this with a wonderful teacher who challenged and cared for her in a way that began her love for learning.  As a family we had a lot of conversation about what we wanted from a school and found St. Thomas More.  It is a small school with lots of hands on, one on one time with the teacher, and there is a faith-filled language throughout the conversations and curriculum.

On an aside: as a home with two clergy parents one may think that the faith bit would be THE driving factor, but in reality it was one of many.  However when Eden asked the principal about the “missing picture” in the stations of the cross during our interview for the school and the response was a warm and caring.  For the record Eden didn’t know why the stations didn’t begin with the last supper rather than the condemning to death of Jesus.  Like a good Methodist, our kid knew you should always start with a meal 🙂

Now the school year comes to an end we know we will miss our school family over the summer.  As the year has gone on our family (Katie, Bethany, my parents, in-laws and myself) have been blessed with serving at the school.  In various ways we have been able to get to know the children at the school.  Weather it be serving pizza or bringing in milk for lunches, making crafts for parents or setting up for events we were able to get to know and partner with the school in making our school family a place where kids could come to ask questions and grow.  I even had the chance to substitute one day for the middle school and it was a blast.  We made a mess, read books, did some algebra, and had some neat conversation.  Afterwards the 3 teachers that I filled in for throughout the day all said than you in their own perfect way.  One teacher, who shares my love of Star Wars, even gave me some awesome stickers (hence the picture for this post).

Our School Family and the Church (universal)

As I seek to find God each day and the kind of “everyday discipleship” we are called to i think about this new family that has come into our lives.  As I reflect on the past school year I can’t help but think about how St. Thomas More has taught me about being the community God calls the church to be:

  • Stay flexible–This year has not been without the stress of a very hard winter, relocation due to frozen pipes and the necessity for being flexible.  Through the hardship of change there was a unity in getting through it together, and an opportunity to share with the kids creative problem solving and living with one another in times of unexpected change.  In my church we know about flexibility.  Yet there are times and places when we just want to have it work the way we know it will rather than have to change.  To be reminded this year that change and flexibility give opportunity for growth were refreshing reminders during weeks where I would have been more comfortable with the status quo as the pastor….
  • Community blesses everyone–The school also has different “houses” made up of kids from different grades that would do some activities together.  Think about it as the different houses like in the Harry Potter series.  This allows the younger students to look up to the older.  Also the older have a responsibility to raise up the younger.  Eden was so excited when she told me all about the ways that she knows the older girls in 8th grade and that they are friends.  She was beaming.  I think the church can take note here.  Rather than siloing our ministries into children, youth and adult there is something to be said for mixing it up and doing church as a family.
  • Getting it trumps getting it right— as you walk the halls of the school there is art where children have colored outside of the lines, when i was doing math with the middle school there was joy in the right answer and a hunger for “why” when an answer was incorrect, and there was a culture of growth throughout the school.  How many times have you felt like you couldn’t try to give an answer if you were not totally sure if it was right?  As the church we need to be incubators of disciples.  We need to, as one of my colleagues said, familiarize ourselves with failure so that we might find success when and where it counts most.  The Church family, like our school family must give permission to risk getting it wrong in order to more fully understand what it is to be the person God made us to be.

I can’t wait to see what our school family will teach us next year…