Staff Editorial: being authentic as Christians in social media

Maybe Christians need to rethink the purpose of social media.

Courtesy of John LeMasney [Creative Commons]

Courtesy of John LeMasney [Creative Commons]

Chimes Staff, Writer

“Social media” is basically what is says it is: media used for social interactions. We use websites like Facebook and Twitter, theoretically at least, to keep track of what our friends are doing, follow news sources and celebrities, and so on. We use phone apps like Instagram and Vine for updating our followers on our daily activities. But it now seems these social media sites have strayed from their original purpose. Employers now use social media to check in on how potential employees establish themselves on the Internet. Most people applying for jobs don’t realize that the way they come across online will affect how they are viewed in the professional world. This reality may change the way we interact on social media.


When the social media craze kicked in, many of us did not foresee that the way we presented ourselves on Twitter or YouTube would affect our career path. The two seemed unrelated, but as employers began to realize they could get a good picture of their applicant based on their social media outlets, many began to use social media to evaluate the integrity and authenticity of their interviewee. And so now, we have the difficult task of finding the balance between representing ourselves in a professional way, yet wanting to vent about the line we are waiting in or how we think so-and-so’s recent album is awful or comment on the most recent news story. We have to face the fact that when our potential boss is Googling our name, tweets or videos from February may surface and sway his or her decision to hire us.

On the other hand, as Christians, we have to factor in our responsibility to be ambassadors for Christ in all we do — including in our presence on social media. Paul talks about our responsibilities as ambassadors in 2 Corinthians 5:20, saying, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us.” Earlier in that chapter, Paul mentions our ministry of reconciliation — of pointing people to the gospel of Jesus. How can we do this on social media without becoming pharisaical? We can tweet Bible verses, which can be encouraging to fellow believers. But how are we being ambassadors to those who do not believe? It’s important for us to be real people — people with senses of humor that are clean, mouths that are not foul and song lyrics that are not offensive. Our followers, friends and subscribers should notice something different about us, and we should be able to tell them that that thing is Jesus.


But sometimes it can be beneficial to go offline, even if just for a little bit. The problem of whether or not to post something on Facebook is completely circumvented if there is no profile to post it on. Taking a sabbatical of sorts from the pressures of social media can give us a much-needed break and allows us time to immerse ourselves wholly in the external world. While the virtual world may only be a click away, it is the relationships we make and keep in the real world that should continue to matter most to us.

The truth is that, whether we like it or not, social media contributes to a public image of ourselves that spans at least three aspects of who we are: our personal lives, our professional profile and our ambassadorship for Christ. The more those areas of our lives drift apart from one another, the more difficult it becomes to manage our social media in a way that fits all three. But the more we seek to merge and unify every area of our lives, living holistically under the banner of our identities in Christ, the more naturally we will present ourselves in a way that compromises nothing. We will be most fully ourselves, most fully made into images of Christ, and most fully fitted for the occupational work which he has prepared for us.

 

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