I have been mulling my previous post on why Christians need to be on facebook (or twitter, google+ or whatever else). My basic argument being that all these digital places are where people find a form of community and so Christians must also be there.
In recent times I have often heard people argue that face to face community is more valid than social media or digital community. One of the comments on my previous post made this exact point. I would like to politely suggest that this is wrong. I think it is no longer possible to separate the “real” world from the “digital” world. Community works wherever it works and it seems obvious to me that social media has changed how we relate to each other. I don’t think this has brought about either a deterioration or an improvement in how we relate it has just brought change.
The idea of face to face community being having greater validity than digital community will soon give way to our new reality. In fact the two places will merge as augmented reality apps take hold. The time will soon come when you can access someones digital identity just by looking at them through the camera on your phone.
Community and human interaction has changed forever. As christians do we try to hold onto the old ways of doing things or do we go where there are people?
I stumbled across this blog post by Matt Hosier about the evils of facebook. It bugged me a little bit. I agreed with him on some points but he made a few sweeping assumptions about how people use social media and facebook in particular.
I wrote about the importance of churches properly utilizing social media a few weeks back. The main reason that churches need to be amazing at this stuff is because that is where the people are. Facebook may fade into obscurity like Myspace and Bebo but something else will rise up in its place, so we can sit back and be dismissive or we can get on the front foot.
Matt describe two types of facebook users. He felt that people either celebrate their success or moan about their difficulty. I agree with Matt that facebookers can be guilty of that but so can twitter, in fact anytime more than one person is in a room there will be moaning and bragging. Facebook did not invent this.
I would suggest that many church leaders who also happen to be twitter users are the biggest moaners and braggers on the ENTIRE INTERNET. Ok, they may not be that bad but those guys are often all at sea when faced with the possibilities twitter presents.
Facebook is to be embraced and redeemed because everybody is there. These places are where and how we conduct community with all its bragging and moaning.