Several years ago, I was in Lousiville, KY for a family literacy conference. For the pre-conference workshops, we were privileged to choose from some highly intelligent speakers on interesting topics that would have been better presented to me somewhere after 10 am - not at 7:30 for a breakfast meeting! No, I'm not a morning person.
My friend and I chose a Media Literacy workshop by Dr. Peter D. He was incredible. I was on the edge of my seat. This unassuming man from Santa Fe brought to my attention things that were on the outskirts of my consciousness - I knew advertising was manipulative, but knowing that the company who owned the television station also owned the products they were advertising was so new to me. He challenged my friend and I so much that we developed and presented our own Media Literacy workshops in Durango Public Schools. This training is needed for everyone parent - everything is a commercial! everything is marketing research!
Having had my eyes opened, I see the media through skeptical eyes. And currently, these skeptical eyes are looking a Facebook, Twitter and blogs through an analytical lense.
Researchers know that what makes texting so popular is that it makes us feel connected without making any commitement. We can speak without consequences. If someone "misunderstands" us, it's not our fault, it's the limits of conveying emotions in text. If feelings are hurt, oops! And on the opposite end, we have learned to read texts without emotions. No emotions, no commitement.
Now we have facebook with millions of "friends". Okay, hundreds. But "friends"? Really? People who were rude to us in high school, suddenly send a friend request. Family members who never pick up the phone to call are suddenly interested in "What's On Your Mind?" No. Not really.
It's status. To have an account. To gather a high friend count.
But to the narcissist - this is nirvana!
Narcissism is defined as the excessive love of one's self. A narcissist posts things to be liked. To get comments. To gain approval.
Without commitment. Without consequences. Without relationships.
The same is true on Twitter - assuming that everyone wants to know what you are doing, what you are saying, where you are going.
How about bloggers? Yes, I realize I'm a blogger. But you're reading me! So you've probably read blogs that start off with a title about, say, Sunshine, and end on how creative this person was to take Sunshine and make a pot of tea and 12 tasty scones for a snack for 40 hungry children living in poverty on the outskirts of Bulgaria (a little hyperbole!). Their purpose was never to write about sunshine but for you to see how wonderful and creative they are as human beings.
All three mediums are perfect for the passive aggresive personality, too. They can say what they want and have no face:face consequences.
All this to say, God has dealt with me on -
Say what you mean, Mean what you say.
We should require all Middle School students and parents to take a class on media etiquette. Remind each other that the internet, FB and Twitter are forever! People judge you by your words - especially in print. They can be read over and over; their meanings questioned.
I have a friend who uses media so wisely - it's an evangelism tool! His posts and blogs point people to Christ. There's never a question of motive or meaning behind what he writes - only Jesus. Check him out at: http://www.eternityimpact.blogspot.com/
Another friend regularly takes Media Breaks. No FB, no Twitter, no blogs. He focuses on maintaining face:face contact and building relationships.
Maybe this a little extreme. Okay, I think it might be for me. But I do want to be careful of what I write and why I write it.
To use my words for good and not evil.
To look for people.
To speak truth.
To stand for the right.
To be a voice of the voiceless.
And always, always point people to the cross.