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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Social media – a force for evil or good?

Have you typed a letter or picked up the phone to complain about something, only to receive a negative response or, worse, no reply at all? Well, last week I came across a story about one woman’s complaint that snowballed into a campaign… with interesting results.

It was while scanning UCB’s (United Christian Broadcasters) Facebook page that I stumbled upon a link to the website of Christian Action Research & Education (CARE), a Christian charity working towards greater respect for the sanctity and value of human life.

There, a blog written by CARE’s Head of Churches Department, Gareth Davies, detailed the organisation’s campaign against two shirts being sold by clothing retailer Next. A customer who had complained about the picture and wording on the shirts – without success – called CARE to see if the organisation would have more clout.

What intrigued me most about the story was the amazing way in which the social media machinery ground into action to create a groundswell of support.

Beating the drums

Gareth explains that first he wrote a blog for CARE’s website arguing the shirts were offensive not only because the picture on them (under a headline ‘Sinners’) objectified women, but because a quote from the Bible was being used to encourage this.

Second, he publicised the campaign on Twitter. This prompted others to send direct tweets to Next expressing their displeasure with the image and text, and some personally blogged about it. Then Gareth posted a question to Next on their Facebook page: ‘Why are you marketing graphic t-shirts with misogynistic poses of women in underwear and promoting such images using The Bible?’

At this point, Next agreed to look into the matter.

Twitter users with larger followings also began applying pressure, and when a Daily Mail journalist picked up on the story and contacted Next’s PR department, the company agreed to withdraw the clothes from sale – and this all on the same day!

Using media for good

I’m certain that as Christians we can think of many negative aspects to using social media like Facebook and Twitter. But, as with most things in life, they can also be used for good. Surely, exercising them to engage with others about issues that really matter to us, can be for good.

Whether we share CARE’s objections to the Next shirts or not, we would do well to heed the potential power of social media, and to prayerfully consider the ways we might embrace it to help bring God’s kingdom to earth – from encouraging each other in our faith, to taking a stand against global evils and injustices.

Social networking… positive or pathetic? What do you think?

Take the positivity challenge

 

Our church is spending this week fasting and praying.

Obviously fasting is about avoiding food, but many people find it helpful to fast in other areas too, such as from television, radio, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, or any habit that makes demands of you.

While I’ll be employing a few of these, I’ve also decided to try fasting from negativity. It’s a habit I easily fall into and I’d like to try breaking its grip.

I was encouraged, then, to see one of this weekend’s blog posts/podcasts from Michael Hyatt (leader, author, blogger and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers), entitled ‘How to become a happy person others want to be around’.

Does being negative affect you negatively?

In his article Michael says, “There are at least two kinds of people: those who are positive and attract people and those who are negative and repel people”. He explains how complaining is potentially harmful to you – mentally, emotionally and relationally.

Negativity has spiritual consequences too. It can prevent God from working in your heart and from giving you His best. (Numbers 11 shows it had dire consequences for the children of Israel.)

Michael lists seven practical ways you can reverse the negativity pattern and become a person others trust and enjoy being around. Read them here. His article and the comments made for interesting reading, and I found it timely in light of my decision to fast from negativity this week (and hopefully beyond).

The Challenge

In the past I have found it difficult to spend just one day guarding each word that comes out of my mouth. I know this is going to be a challenge for me, not least because I fall into the pattern without even realising. (Isn’t that what a habit is!)

So how am I planning to tackle the challenge?

1. Pray – I cannot change myself… only the Holy Spirit can do that. But it’s up to me to partner with Him and to react positively to His nudges. I will be praying daily (hourly?) for the Holy Spirit to fill me with His power, and asking the Father for dynamite grace to overcome temptation.

2. Get support – To increase my awareness of the habit, I’ll be asking Mr Koeksister to gently remind me each time I start out down the negativity road.

3. Speak out good things – This will be not only about avoiding negative comments. It will involve intentionally speaking out positive remarks about (and to) others and God. (See Psalm 145.)

4. Make thankfulness a habit – Each day I will be looking for specific things to thank God and others for. Cultivating a thankful heart will please God and cause others to enjoy being in my company.

Is this a battle you have fought and won? Do you have any advice or encouragement for me?