Good and Evil. Constructive and destructive. Transformation and degeneration.
Has such not always been the interlocking nature with the technology of communication?
TV brings into our homes inspiring stories about the better angels among us, alerts us to impending danger (tornadoes and hurricanes), exposes corporate, governmental and ecclesiastical untruthfulness, evaluates facts, makes us laugh, causes us to weep, enriches our lives.
TV also dumps into our homes moral sewage – glamorizing infidelity, glossing over violence, glorifying greed, generating vulgarity and profanity, not to mention that TV sitcoms, shows and news dumb down society.
Now, the increasingly popular social media platform of Twitter brings to our smartphones, tablets and desktop computer screenings great harm and much good.
The Wall Street Journal reported destructive behavior on college campuses fueled by Twitter, selfies and alcohol.
“At least 10 riots have rocked colleges in the past two months, resulting in hundreds of arrests and dozens of injuries amid a growing sense that social media are helping to fuel misbehavior at student mass gatherings,” the news story read.
After a riotous St. Patrick’s Day event at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, a large number of individuals faced charges from disorderly conduct to burglary. A university spokesman blamed Twitter.
“It … created a momentum that we had not seen before,” he said. “Twitter is much more of a broadcast medium than Facebook.”
In April, US Airways became the latest corporation to apologize for misusing Twitter, tweeting a pornographic image.
In March, the Turkish government made Twitter and later YouTube scapegoats for social tensions. It blocked both, denying millions access to social media and charging anti-government corruption.
“If Twitter, YouTube and Facebook will be honest, if they’ll stop being so immoral, stop attacking families,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister. “All our national moral values are being set aside.”
Negative examples or reaction to Twitter is accompanying positive ones. EthicsDaily.com used Twitter at screenings of “Through the Door” at Richmond’s Bon Air Baptist Church to share with those unable to attend what attendees were seeing and hearing.
Central Baptist Theological Seminary uses Twitter and social media platforms more often than many other theological schools to tell their story and connect with their constituency.
Church of England used the Twitter hashtag #EasterMeans to reach members and others with the Easter message.
A Church of England diocese offered earlier in the year a list of responsible guidelines – “Twitter commandments.”
â— Don’t rush in
â— Remember tweets are transient yet permanent
â— Be a good ambassador for the church
â— Don’t hide behind anonymity
â— Be aware of public/private life boundaries
â— Maintain a professional distance
â— Stay within the law
â— Respect confidentiality
â— Be mindful of your own security
Others are offering advice to Christians who tweet.
Twitter is a good tool for houses of faith – and more and more congregations and congregational leaders appear to be entering the Twitter universe.
As many know, a blue bird is the symbol for Twitter. But do you know what the logo is intended to mean?
The company’s creative director explained what the logo means: “Whether soaring high above the earth to take in a broad view, or flocking with other birds to achieve a common purpose, a bird in flight is the ultimate representation of freedom, hope and limitless possibility.”
Sounds kind of Christian to me without religious lingo.
Good pastors have a bird’s eye view of the church and culture – seeing broadly above the ebb and flow of daily society.
That perspective qualifies them to see differently, enabling them to offer moral critique, provide timely pastoral care, give spiritual wisdom.
And like the mother hen, they gather the brood together when needed for common purpose of worship, work and witness.
Of course, one must recall that the dove is a Christian symbol. The flight of the dove represents the movement of the Spirit, which brings freedom, hope and possibility.
One need not baptize a secular corporate logo to apply it to faith.
Using the technology, however, might better serve houses of faith and fill the public square with transformative values.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.
Editor’s Note: Read Parham’s 2009 editorial, Jesus Would Tweet, and Warn of the Temptation of Technology, and 2011 editorial, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus … and Tweet. He notes that some of Jesus’ most memorable statements were less than 140 characters, the maximum characters allowed for a tweet.