Imagine this conversation:
“Hello friend! How are you?”
“Oh I’m doing great! Thanks for asking. Say, have you heard the big news everyone is talking about?”
“Oh have I ever. Let me tell you what I think about it!”
Now, as you imagined this scenario, where did it take place? Was it at the water cooler at work? In someone’s living room before book club? The foyer at church? A gas station in a small town? The hallway at school?
Any of these contexts work for the type of conversation I described. They all serve as places where people come together, share ideas, and communicate. They serve as community centers. I like to call them the marketplace, hearkening back to times where people would exchange goods and ideas in one place.
Today there is a new marketplace: social media. Just like the water cooler or the high school hallway, at their core sites like Facebook and Twitter provide mediums for people to connect and share ideas with each other. At the most basic level, they are not positive or negative, but neutral. Those who use it choose whether to use it for positive or negative means. There are nuances and differences between all the platforms, but at their base, they are mediums for connecting with others.
So how should Christians view the new marketplace? Should they avoid it because of the potential dangers it brings? Should they bombard it with passionate thoughts about political, social, and religious topics? What is the answer? Where is the balance?
I would argue that we should approach social media the same way we approach our other marketplaces. We should be counter cultural in our beliefs and actions, but appropriately so. We should communicate our beliefs and share gospel truths, but do so with grace and love.
There are differences between social media and other marketplaces, namely the extent of exposure one’s comments could have and the physical distance present between communicators. These differences change the conversation slightly, but not totally. We must still approach it as we do other marketplace so.
I’ll see you at the market, friend.