Posted 11.29.2009

Leveraging Your Life via Social Media



Three weeks ago, I went on the YOUNG ADULT fall retreat (not to be confused with the Singles Retreat *GRIN*) at church. The theme for the weekend was “Trust + Obey = Leverage.” Aaron Bryant asked me to lead a break out group on Saturday morning about practical ways to leverage your life using Social Media.

I had a lot of fun reading up and learned quite a bit in the process. — Thought I would share:

A quick side note:
I tried posting these slides via Slideshare. However, there isn’t a way (at least I don’t know of one) to share some of my notes.


This was the description that I wrote to describe the breakout. At the end, I wanted people to be able to say “this is what I learned.”

If technology is an extension of who we are, and we are made in God’s image, then technology is also an extension of who God is, as well. We will dig into what this means for us and for the church, how it shapes our beliefs, how we should respond appropriately, and how we can be good stewards.




When I’m going through Social Media stuff. I think of a couple of verses. Matthew 10:16 is one of them. I believe it is a calling to step out of ignorance and be knowledgeable of the world around us. Social media is no exception.




John 17:6-9 is another passage. Here, Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane for his disciples. He prays that they would be in the world but not of the world.

What does that even mean? –Well, a few years ago, I read a good called Too Christian, Too Pagan.. In it, the author talks about how Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors, a.k.a. the untouchables of society. He was too Christian for them. On the flip side, he was too pagan for the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. He walked a fine line.

That verse is a call for us to step off our high horses, as believers, and get our hands dirty. We are far from perfect! But, it’s also about rising above the crap that pollutes our world. We were meant for more…so much more!

*jumping off that soap box*







The hard part about preparing for this breakout group was the audience. Usually when I’m talking about Facebook or Twitter, I’m teaching people that don’t have a clue what the tools are or how to use them. OR I’m talking to geeks like me, that love all the bells and whistles, features, tips, and tricks. This audience doesn’t fit into either category. Most of them, they know what Facebook is. I’m friends with most of them! Twitter might be a little harder, but they have a basic understanding…



So, diving in.

Historically, websites provide us with information. That’s been their primary purpose. Take CNN.com. It’s one news source telling thousands information: one to many.

However, with blogs and other sources, the lines of communication have been opened. All the sudden, we, as users can respond. We can share our thoughts, feelings, feedback: many to one. We’ve been given a voice.

But, let’s take that a step further. It’s not just about us talking back to, say CNN.com. Suddenly, we can talk to other people about what we’re reading: many to many. It’s now a conversation.

Then, viral comes into play. We can turn around and share with our friends, that don’t have a clue, what news we’re reading (still many to many).

With social media, we’ve expanding the conversation 3 more times!

So what do we do with all this information? By itself, it is strength without coordination. That’s where understanding comes into play. Understanding is the ability to coordinate that information in meaningful ways. Then, wisdom is becoming comfortable in that understanding. — knowing how, when, and why we use understanding.





OK so: What does this means for us and for the church and how does it shapes our beliefs?



Well…. when I was in college and taking mass communication classes. We studied a guy named, Marshall McCluhan. It’s cool, now, to see his name resurface and to have a better understanding of how he fits into this overall picture. His big thing was “The message is the medium.”

I don’t know about you, but that statement is makes my brain short circuit. How does a movie tell one message in the movie theater and a completely different one on a DVD in the comfort of my own home? It’s the same content!

The best example I can think of is a thank you note. You do something and I want to express my appreciation. I could sit down at my computer and type a quick email. OR I could pull out a card. Old fashioned, I know. Write out the same message that I would have emailed you, stick a stamp on it, and a few days later, you’ll get it. It’s the same content, but the message is different. With an email, you’d probably say, “Oh, that was nice.” But, a card… You’d say, “That was really thoughtful of her. It was nice of her to take the time to do that.” Nobody sends cards anymore. So, when someone does, it carries a lot more weight. The medium is the message.





Here’s another example. The words “Sad Child.” OK. Sad child.



BUT, if I show you a picture of a sad child. Well, that carries a lot more weight. We respond emotionally. Our left brain processes the words, “sad child.” It is analytical, logical. Our right brain, processes images and emotion. Suddenly, we feel something for this sad child; we feel compassion.





So, when we look at how the medium effects us, as Christians, it’s not really any different.

In the Old Testament, there are pages of specifications for how the Ark of the Covenant should be built, how it should be carried, etc. It might be boring to us. But, it’s part of God’s message. It’s tells us that this was incredibly important, because it carried His Word (the 10 Commandments).

Look at how God chose to demonstrate His love to us: by sending His only Son as an infant. Not only that, but He died for us! To me, that’s more than anything I could ask. It’s the ultimate demonstration of love.

Let’s keep taking this a step further. The message changes with time and culture. I know that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable when it comes to the Bible. If God is unchanging, if He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, how can His Word change?

In Exodus, in the Old Testament, when they were getting ready to cross the Red Sea, it was a message of calling His people to the Promised the Land.

In Jeremiah (still Old Testament), when the people were in captivity, it was a message of, “I have a plan for you. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Even today, the message changes. If I went to a 3rd world country, full of corruption and hunger, and told them that Jesus can rescue them from their poverty and oppression. That’s Good News! But, if I go to my neighbors, who live in one of the 10th wealthiest counties in the country and told them that God can rescue them from their poverty and oppression…well…they would look at me like I was crazy. I’d probably get a door or two slammed in my face and small children would be told to cross the street when they saw me coming. On the flip side, if I told my neighbors that God wants to save them from their personal affliction, from their struggles and failures with relationships, etc. –well, that carries a lot more weight. Same God. Different message.

Let’s keep pushing this. In Paul’s letters, he talks about how we are the Body of Christ. Most of the time, we read this and immediately think about unity. We’re all supposed to work together. Yes, that’s true. But, there’s more. As believers, we partner with God to share with others. That’s His expansion plan. Us. I’ll be the first to admit, the church doesn’t always do a good job. A lot of us, that have reached that conclusion will back away from the Church, ashamed by it’s flaws. I’ll apologize, but I won’t back down. This is the medium that God chose to communicate his message. Mistakes and all. I don’t know about you, but it makes me think about the Body of Christ differently.





How should we respond appropriately?




Understand that virtual community is….virtual.

I attend Kairos. However, on a busy week, I might tell myself, “It’s OK, I can skip and just catch it on the podcast.” The thing is, it’s not the same. I miss the the conversations that happen. I miss the community. There’s a lot to be said for just showing up and being there in person. However, this isn’t the only thing that we allow a virtual community, the perception of community, to replace the real deal. This is just one example.





A study was done that showed negotiations done via email were far more likely to break down than those that were handled over the phone or in person.

I think we avoid face-to-face because we fear confrontation. I know I do! But the problem is there is so much more room left for misinterpretation. We miss body language, voice intonation, and facial expressions. We’re just asking for a miscommunication!

I’m learning to accept conflict. To be human is to be in conflict. People are messy! But, if we recognize that and understand that the way we disagree sends a message.

So how do we respond appropriately? Take some initiative! Go directly to the other person. Have an attitude of humility. Be quick to listen. Slow to speak. (Hmmm…sounds a lot like the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew…)





The next question, then: how can we be good stewards?




I’m learning more and more, consistency is the key. I want to be the same person online as I am in real life. I want to be the same person at work that I am at home. I want the things that I say to line up with my behavior.



There are 4 people that I blog / twitter for. Whenever, I post something, I always try to think about how they will respond.

The first two are co-workers from my previous job. One’s a graphic designer and the other is a branding guru. When I write, I wonder, will they be annoyed by this Twitter or will it make them chuckle. Is this post going to get under their skin? And if so, am I OK what that?

Third, my current boss. I’m never going to write anything negative about the work I’m currently doing or my company.

Fourth, my Dad. I want to make sure that my posts honor my family and the way I’ve been raised. Knowing that he pays attention to what I do online comes with a level of accountability.





One of the things that I think we’ll become a growing issue for my / our generation is privacy. I remember when I was 13 and AOL chat rooms were popular. grin Everyone made a big deal about what you shared. I was told, “NEVER share personal information!” Whatever happened to that? Just look at Facebook!
Recently, Google released Google Dashboard. It tells you all the information that they have collected on you. It’s kind of scary, actually.

  • Google Calendar – They know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it.
  • Contacts – They know who my friends are and how to get in touch with them
  • Google Docs – they know what I’m working on
  • Gmail – they know who I’m Emailing, what I’m talking about, what I’m interested in.
  • Google Reader – they know what I’m paying attention to, who I’m listening to
  • Web History – they know what sites I’m visiting
  • YouTube – they know what I’m watching.

And I don’t even use all the products that Google offers. What about Orkout? — It’s a site similar to Facebook, popular in other countries. Or Picassa? Blogger? Tasks? Google Voice?

It’s easy for me to look at these things and think, “You know, I have nothing to hide. What difference does it make whether they have this information on me?” What we forget is that yes, big brother might be watching us, but little brother, the marketer is also watching. I wonder when the day will come when we’ll pay just to be left alone. Give us some peace and quiet!








Something else we forget? Once it’s posted, it may never go away.

If you go to Google.com and search “cache:name_a_site.com. In my example, I searched for my site: cache:amyhaywood.com. What comes up is an older version of my site. Google will periodically crawl through the web taking snapshots (cache) of sites. My site doesn’t look like this now. I’ve updated it since then.

Before we go and get our underwear in a knot, let me explain why: it speeds up performance on their end. Eventually, their cache will update. But, still… I could delete something and it would still be available through Google Cache for weeks.









Archive.org is another example. A quick search, (again) for amyhaywood.com, reveals the history of my site, dating back to 2001!




This screenshot was taken from one of the 2003 links. My site looks drastically different now. I’ve grown a lot as a designer and developer since then. However, the information is still available.




I teach and host a Bible Study at my apartment on Thursday nights. Recently, I created a Facebook group. I’ve posted what we’ll be doing each week so that if someone has to miss a week, they won’t get behind. The group is still in it’s infancy stages, however, I’m hoping that it will challenge people to share throughout the week. When Thursdsay nights come around, we can go even deeper.

The cool thing about this group is that it really is an extension of a greater conversation that’s already happening. It was never meant to replace the community we have on Thursday nights, only make it richer.





You Version is some website/software that came out of LifeChurch.tv. On their site, you can read and post your thoughts on a particular Scripture passage, create groups, and events. They’ve also got an iPhone app. When you’re at an event, you can pull up the Scripture passage the speaker is using, along with their notes. You can also submit prayer requests or Twitter what you’re learning, directly from the app.

One of the first events they used it at was Catalyst, this past October. However, my connection was terrible within the arena, so, I never saw it actually work.





This is a screenshot of the website for Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. It’s interesting to see some of the stuff that they’re doing since a lot of their members work for Microsoft or Amazon.

In fact, this church created their own Social Networking solution, called The City. Recently, they sold it to Zondervan.

On their site, you can see links to download the sermons, share with friends, find resources, etc.



Conclusions

I expected to come out on the other side with a list of do-s and don’t-s or a 10 step process to understanding social networking. What I found, surprised me. Nothing can replace the conversations and relationships that we have in real life.

Social networking should never replace what we have in real life. It should only extend what’s already there, building off of it.


Books I Read / Am Reading

As I mentioned in my jQuery post (part 1), I’m a bit old fashioned in that I like books. (If I can get some coolness points back–or maybe just geek points–I read books on my Kindle. grin ) These are the books that I read in preparation.




Stay Tuned :: the week of jQuery

STAY TUNED...
I feel like this section has the “Up Next…” commercial feel to it. For me, announcing the line up comes with a level of accountability; I’ve found that I need that.

After writing about creating your own jQuery plugins last week (Part 1 and 2), I thought I’d share a few tricks that I keep in my back pocket. I’ve been creating a lot of blogs for work and so I keep these code snippets close.