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Using Social Media For Good

By: Matt Stickel

Is it just me or does it take some digging to find an uplifting post on my Facebook newsfeed? With a few hundred friends (mostly from my church and Christian workplace), I’m shocked by how little encouragement I see on a daily basis.

And I’m guessing my newsfeed isn’t much different from yours. Between puppy pics, political articles, sports team updates and memes galore, there’s little room left for encouragement and love.

Time for a social media “love” audit

When was the last time you used social media to add value to someone? Log into your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Scroll through your posts until you find the last time you said something positive to brighten someone’s day. Not the last time you posted something funny or cute but something meant to let people know they’re loved. How long ago was it?

Recently, it dawned on me that I rarely congratulate, praise or encourage the people I love. I want only the best for my family, friends and co-workers, but I don’t say it as often as I should.

With a simple click of a button, I can remind people instantaneously that they’re precious, valuable and loved. Communication has never been as fast, free and accessible as it is in our social media world. And yet, we rarely use it to communicate what could be of great impact in each other’s lives.

Did you have a rough day? Imagine if you got this message out of the blue:

Hey friend. I was just thinking of you today. I love you, and I value our friendship. You bring joy to so many people’s lives and I’m so thankful for you. You’re amazing!

Don’t wait to receive this message. Instead, send it today to the first friend that comes to mind. You’ll make someone’s day!

You don’t have to remind me of the bad

We all have that friend who uses Facebook as a political soap box. Every day, they clamber up to their digital podium and share bad news to remind us about the evil and crooked world we live in. They think they’re doing us a favour by informing us about something new, but it’s never new. The details might be different, but it’s the same old story.

Josh Shepherd’s closing thought in 6 Tips for Talking Politics on Facebook resonated with me:

“Yes, it’s worth it to speak up online — boldly and swiftly when events demand. But being mindful of the real lives at stake can keep us humble and able to see the big picture.”

We live in a broken world. Nobody needs a daily reminder of that. It really goes without saying.

I’ve struggled with depression since middle school, and negative stories in the news trigger raw feelings that can take me days to shake. And when I get home from a long day at the homeless shelter where I work, the last thing I want to scroll through is petty complaints about first-world problems.

Shepherd’s post reminded me to be gracious with my friends’ tirade (they’re passionate about their beliefs and that’s a good thing), but it’s also good to remember that your negative post may have bigger ramifications in people’s lives than you think.

What you and I need is a fresh dose of hope and good news every day to be reminded you are loved. No matter how bad your day is, you need to know you’re valuable and cherished by God.

That goes for you and every one of your friends. You never know when a few words of encouragement will turn a friend’s day around. So, what if we used social media to proclaim good news louder than bad news? As the saying goes, as one person, you can’t change the world, but you can change the world of one person.

What if the apostles of the Bible had Facebook?

Imagine how the Apostle Paul would use social media today. I don’t suppose he’d be taking pictures of his breakfast and posting it on Instagram (#nofilter). Instead, he’d find creative and genuine ways to share messages like “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

Or what if the Apostle John got himself a Twitter account. I find it hard to believe that he’d retweet breaking news from the White House. He’d remind his friends and followers “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), before he went out and loved big on somebody.

I’m not suggesting that we quote Scripture all the time on social media (although Scripture is especially encouraging). But rather, what if we expressed our joy, peace, contentment and salvation in our own words more often to brighten people’s days and give them hope? After all, many of the books of the Bible by the apostles weren’t written as books. They were written as letters. They wrote letters to remind others of the love of Christ and the hope of forgiveness and grace through Him. They wrote to persecuted, marginalised and struggling people like you, me and our friends and family — people that needed good news.

If I used social media like the Apostles would have, what would that mean for everyone in my circle of friends? If people used social media to bless others and write daily epistles of encouragement to people in a broken world, what good might come of it?

I’ll end by sharing Paul’s post on the Philippian church’s Facebook page:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

© 2018 Matthew Stickel. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at boundless.org.

Article supplied with thanks to Focus on the Family Australia.

About the Author: Matt regularly writes and shares stories about lives being transformed by God’s grace at the rescue mission he works at in Colorado Springs. Focus on the Family provides relevant, practical support to help families thrive in every stage of life.

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