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Social Media Accepted
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An extended version of these articles originally appeared in the July 18, 2013, Adventist Review. Reprinted with permission.[1]
 

Cats, Kids—and Jesus? Navigating social media with purpose.

Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.

My 9-year-old posed with a stuffed toy tiger and said, “Take a picture with your phone. You can post it on Facebook.”
I attended a Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) convention, during which attendees posted scores of photos on Facebook and Instagram, using a special hashtag (#) handle.

Scholastic Fair projects were almost due at school. After a basic Internet search was not successful, I turned to Pinterest and found tips on making spiders with floral foam and acrylic paint. I also found a neat idea on how to make a small statue.

While engrossed in researching social media, I happened to check my Twitter home page feed and found a tweet for a Buzzfeed.com article, “Teens Abandoning Social Networks, Study Says.” I learned helpful information about new trends in social media—some of the material will appear in this article.

No doubt about it, social networking is big. Global, in fact. On the largest platform, Facebook, there are more than 1 billion users. Twitter boasts 500 million users.[2] And while some teens and young adults are migrating to Instagram, Kik, Snapchat, and Vine, they aren’t abandoning social networks.

But what is social networking? And of what is social media comprised? This article—and articles on www.adventist review.org—will describe some of the platforms used primarily for connecting and communicating. Guidelines will be given for successful practices; and several Adventists will share how they use social media personally and professionally—for fun, for family, and for ministry. Social media is more than the superfluous—here’s a practical look at how to make it purposeful. Visit Appendix E for a list of common social media sites.
 
Conversation Starter:
What actions could we take (or have taken) to encourage responsible use of technology?

Staying Current —and Connected

Alexandria Martin is a pastor’s kid (PK), graduating from Burton Adventist Academy in Texas.

How often do you use social media, and on what devices?
I spend at least two to three hours a day using social media during the regular school week. During the weekends I use social media networks throughout the day; approximately four to six hours each day. I use Facebook (FB) on my phone. I also text, and use the YouTube and Internet Explorer apps on my phone. In addition I use my computer to check FB, fashion blogs, YouTube (video Web site), and Pinterest (Internet idea “pin board”). I use Skype as well, to video chat and connect with my friends and family, whom I don’t get to see all the time.

For me, using social media is just a normal way to stay current and updated with friends, information, etc. Recently I ran for Student Association president and I used FB to create a page as part of my campaign. I invited most of the student body to view my page and used it to share with them my goals and thoughts about next school year. I also posted pictures of the students on the page, holding signs that encouraged people to vote for me. I think my FB page played a significant role in my campaign. It made everyone aware that I was running, it gave me easy access to the students, and also gave them easy access to me. A lot of students messaged me their ideas and suggestions through the FB page. I was able to communicate with the students in a way they are extremely familiar with, and they resonated with my campaign, which resulted in my election.

I also follow a bunch of people on YouTube, ranging from comedians to beauty gurus to music teachers. You can learn about anything from YouTube. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned songs on the guitar and piano, as well as makeup tips and how to solve certain math problems I was struggling with. I’ve used Twitter to keep up with some of my favorite celebrities. And I use text messaging to contact pretty much anyone, even teachers when I have questions about assignments.

What do you do that’s religious or spiritual?
Whenever I feel that I’ve had an “a-ha” moment or experienced God in a cool way, or even have a question about something “spiritual,” I post it on FB. Many times my friends have commented, “Thanks for sharing,” or “That’s exactly what I needed to hear today.” In return I’ve been blessed by people sharing their thoughts and spiritual experiences on FB. Also my Sabbath school group, my youth group, my academy, and my church all have FB pages. Through these pages information about upcoming events, and encouragement and uplifting words, are spread. There are a lot of spiritual/uplifting channels and videos on YouTube as well. 

The way you use social media depends on what kind of person you are. I happen to have a relationship with God, so that’s reflected in my use of, and communication through, social media.

Do you take a break from social media on Sabbath?
No. As I mentioned earlier, social media is just a way to communicate. I don’t stop communicating on Sabbath; however, I do focus my use of social media on things more geared toward God. I won’t use YouTube to listen to secular music or to watch videos about the latest celebrity trends, but I will use it to look up some Kirk Franklin. I’ll use Skype and FB on Sabbath to connect with my friends and family. 
 

Daniel in Digital Babylon

A. Allan Martin

A perspective on the social networking landscape

Pastoral couples can teach their children and youth that there are many ways to engage others and encourage each other through social media, but a key principle for any activity in social media is: Be Kind.

As it is an expansive public arena, social media is one of those places where the most basic of Christian courtesy and compassion can be our best expression of our faith. Kindness to others is a great virtue to hold high when interacting online.

Another principle is: Be Discreet. Just because we can express every feeling, thought, opinion, and urge doesn’t mean it’s wise to do so. No one has given us permission to emotionally vomit online. Further, if there is a conflict, fight, or disagreement, social media is among the worse places to communicate. Following the biblical model in person has proven to be a time-tested exceptional method of reconciliation (see Matt. 18). 

This one is important too: Be Civil. Civility is defined as courteous or polite behavior. It’s a discipline that can distinguish believers in a media world that thrives on instantaneous, infamous, and often rude acting out. Your video may not go viral, but if you’re civil, you will be known nevertheless for all the right reasons.

Finally, keep Matthew 5 in mind. Several times a day I post to various groups of people, mostly through Facebook. As I stand on my “purpose firm,”

 I remember these points:
  • Be a blessing.
  • Be a light.
  • Be mindful.
  • Be faithful and loyal.
  • Be generous.
  • Be loving.
 
 
[1] To view the complete article, please visit the Adventist Review Web site at www.adventistreview.org/2013-1520-p16.