This is the first in a series of posts within which we shall explore what it means to authentically realize and manifest, with integrity, our Christian faith in the realm of social media. Step one?
Too often, when we think on the lifestyle of simplicity as it relates to the living out of the Gospel of Christ in this world, we first consider, even exclusively, material simplicity (i.e. fewer possessions under our personal care equates to greater freedom and mobility toward the work of God). While quite important to maintaining an unhindered heart, this type of simplicity is only one way we might strip ourselves of excess. Consider this … can we manage knowing less in order to live more? A simple experience this past week had me looking on the idea of simplicity from a new perspective. One I had certainly considered before, but one to which I rarely attend.
As mentioned in a recent post, our office is set to make an email migration. In preparation for this event, I have encouraged all in the office to purge unnecessary messages from their accounts. I, myself spent a full day at this task and I’ve yet to complete it. Thankfully, I only maintain a single inbox for emails. At home, I have a personal external hard drive 120GB full of archived files and in a good deal of disarray. I have web accounts which I rarely, if ever, access (and some I have forgotten exist) … little bits of data scattered about the world — testaments to an unordered life. And, when it comes to social media, I have longed tried to keep up with the latest, the greatest of apps … attempting to carry a presence for either the sake of connections (old & new), some record of events past, or maybe simply for presence itself — some sense of community. Whatever the case, I have allowed technology to complicate life. Indeed, it is called the web for good reason … complexity reigns.
In a culture where we can carry a world of data and information in our pockets, we are prone to ‘complexify’ our lives and minds to a degree at which our hearts and wills begin to tangle and strangle. Sapped of strength, we become impotent to carry out the call of Christ. And so, we come to the question … are we to carry such a burden as we travel the Way of the Cross?
As a praying league, devoted to the harvest call of Christ, we are guided by foundational principles given us in the Bible. Let us begin with one …
Now, what does it mean to commit ourselves to simplicity and work out our calling in a simple sort of way in the realm of social media? Like me, do you feel the need for a bit more breathing room? Have you experienced the un-simplification of life as a result of your techno-engagement? Consider the following practical steps toward simplification of your life on social media.
1. Assess your social media presence.
Sit down and make a list of your social media accounts. Then consider each of the following:
- What role does this specific account play in your life?
- How often do you utilize the account?
- When did you last access the account?
- Are your friends and/or family active in this online community?
- What utilitarian purposes might the account serve?
- How easy is the account to manage?
- Does your social presence serve a Kingdom cause and is God glorified?
2. Select three/four environments in which to dwell and engage.
From the list you assembled, determine which accounts you will continue to maintain. I suggest selecting one each to serve the following purposes:
- Primary means of maintaining contact with family and friends.
- Avenue for expression of your specific skills and giftings.
- Platform for professional/vocational development.
- Means by which to be informed of current events.
You may find there are one or two additional tools you regularly use that would fall into the category of social media … that’s okay (i think i’m finding the same). Use them as tools, but consider whether you ought to use them for social engagement. Then, delete all other accounts. Yes, do it. We’re aiming for simplicity here.
3. Limit your connections.
Again, consider your purpose for being online and engaging socially in such a culture. Is it to make yourself known or is it to make Jesus known? Is it to boost your esteem or is it to glorify the one True God? Limiting your connections (whether by removing followers, or unsubscribing from notifications from those whom you follow) will minimize the vast amount of social data that is thrown your way. If you seek to intimately know those with whom you are connected, you will encounter greater opportunity for depth of relationship.
4. Set your eyes on Jesus. Confess the faith.
The Lord calls us to relationship, to prayer, to mission. Set your eyes on Him. Proclaim the Truth. I have been greatly discouraged by the vast number of Christian friends whom I have seen make no hesitation to take an online stand for political and/or social issues; yet, have rarely, if ever, made mention of Jesus. When we look about, we ought to see Him, and Him alone. Set your eyes on Jesus and others might be drawn to your gaze.
Bonus Tips Regarding Email
Allow me to put forth a few additional points, specifically for my fellow workers in the office who might be looking to clean mail accounts before our migration.
- Purge unnecessary messages from your mail account
- Delete unimportant messages immediately
- Create no more than ~7 folders/tags with which to file important messages
- Rely on search to find archived messages
- Create a few basic filters for incoming messages
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists you no longer read
Moving Forward Unfettered
Let us, then, strive to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Ephesians 4). Unhindered, may we commit ourselves to simplicity, that we may work out our calling with low-overhead, in a simple sort of way. May the Lord bless your journey forward.