What are some practical principles for using social media?

I think we need to be as reflective as possible. It’s easy to simply to jump into social media and become immersed in it and not really understand what’s going on. And my basic principle is every communications medium has strengths and has weaknesses. Basically the medium is the message. Every medium shapes the content, and it encourages some things and discourages other things. So, for example, something like Facebook encourages and facilitates rapid and widespread communication, which can certainly have its benefits. Let’s say you have an emergency prayer request and its something that is safe to put out there in that kind of a setting. You might have people all over the world praying for this particular situation and would be more difficult to get the word out otherwise. But, on the other hand, things like Facebook and Myspace, although that’s declining in influence, have dangers, and part of that is what your are saying, overexposure, not being careful, not exercising confidentiality, there’s the danger of gossip, rumors, and so on, and also the general tendency to simply be very superficial and very quick to speak. Scripture says not to be quick to speak, but to be quick to listen, and slow to judge. And the Book of Proverbs repeatedly says that a wise man or a wise woman holds his or her peace but a fool proclaims his folly, and its very easy for people to be foolish on Facebook and all of a sudden all of your friends know the foolish thing you’ve just put up there and it may not be glorifying God at all.

~Contributed by Douglas Groothuis, professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary

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