At the time of this writing I am on a social media break. My reasons for this break is personal and spiritual, but this break has been beneficial for me in numerous ways. Thus, you’re probably reading this and wondering the following: “Is he contradicting himself? The topic of his blog post says, ‘Why I Love Social Media,’ but he’s on a social media break while writing this.” I know I know. So, today in my time alone, I came to a crazy conclusion: I actually love social media. Allow me to explain.
For those who do not know me, all my life work is centered around serving people. I spent almost 7 years serving children in a local after-school program. I have the privilege of serving as a GED instructor for our local community college. I currently serve as one of the associate ministers of my church and a fundamental aspect of my responsibility as a minister is serving our congregants and our youth. Lastly, for whatever reason, the Lord led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human services at Elon University. I never understood why God led me in this path and not music until the last few years. Serving people has been, currently is, and will always be a part of the basic fabric of who I am.
So where am I going with this? Well, I love social media for one fundamental reason: social media reveals what’s going on in the heart and mind of people online. Tony Reinke made the argument that everything we do on our smartphones (or any other devices we use to get on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) is the “true expose’ of my (our) heart.” In other words, our words and actions on social media reflects what is taking place in our hearts. Thus, while people can say any and everything on social media, my experience tells me that when people put certain statuses and tweets up, it reflects what is taking place in their heart and mind. For example, if a person talks a lot about not worrying about what others think, I believe I can infer that they are bothered by people saying certain things about them either face to face or through someone else. Also, if the tweets and statuses of people are mostly negative (whether about life, someone else, etc.), I believe I can infer that they may struggle with anger or hurt over something.
Thus, my love for social media revolves around the opportunities that exist for us to encourage one another. Instead of being critical of people who post mostly negative posts, I believe we should do what we can to encourage them. Encouragement does not always equal advice. I am convinced that many people post certain things online not to receive advice, but to vent about whatever frustrations they have. As life continues to show us, there are many hurting individuals online. Many operate under the disguise of another person, but they are hurting. People who are overly critical and negative are, in my opinion, crying for positive attention and encouragement. What would our online experiences be like if we reframed people’s negative posts/tweets as a clarion call of their need for healing? The biggest thing social media has done, in my opinion, is give a platform for everyone to express themselves openly. There are various opinions about whether that is good or bad, but the reality is that social media gives everyone the right to express their voice.
Lastly, I want to be clear that I am not advocating the idea that people should just express whatever they want on social media without a filter. I believe that certain thoughts need to go in a journal or be expressed to trustworthy individuals. However, when a person is hurting, they are bound not to care about what vehicle is being used to express their hurt. The only thing that matters to the individual is expressing whatever is on their heart. Again, social media can be good or bad depending on how humans use it. To me, social media gives us an opportunity to speak life-giving words to others. Perhaps our world wouldn’t be as cruel as it is if we were more positive to others. Maybe people wouldn’t worry about haters and enemies as much if we were more positive to others. As much as I am tired of seeing people post about critics and haters, the reality is that people are hurting and expressing themselves by whatever means necessary.
I love social media because it allows me to see the inner workings of individuals. People are hurting and need to experience love, acceptance, friendship, and peace like never before. Reframe the negative posts that you see on social media as a window of opportunity to encourage others. You never know how BIG of a difference it will make in the life of someone. Through the power of encouragement, someone at the point of giving up may feel the motivation to keep going a little while longer. And if you’re reading this post and realize that, through your posts online, you are expressing your hurt, let me encourage you with these words: HANG IN THERE!
 Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone Is changing You (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 26, Kindle edition.