I hear a lot of people who complain about social media—you know—Facebook, Twitter, etc. I know social media can be used for bad things. I know many are suspicious social media are a waste of time and create friction between people. I’m sure they can and do… because the people who use them are sinners so they are capable of things like wasting time and getting into friction—but my personal perspective is different.
I like social media when it’s used right. I am into people. Sometimes I like to hole-up and get away to myself, but it usually sounds a lot neater than it is. I’m really not at all a loner. I like to study and write and when I am actively doing that I need relative quietness and freedom from interruption, but I speak and write for people. I like people. I like to be around people. I like to communicate to and with people. I get energy and ideas from people. People motivate, irritate, inspire, agitate, stimulate, and frustrate me. I like people around me. I need people around me. I’m a people person.
Once in a great while I find myself with a few hours or a few days to be almost alone. When I was working on my master’s degree in Chicago, for example, I would find my self alone when class was done for the day. Since my home at the time included ten people, I looked forward to the silence and the solitude that a week away to study would provide. I always had a satchel of books and a mind full of plans about what I would accomplish. After class I would eat, hike to my silent room, open a book or my laptop and, inevitably, I would find myself unable to think or read or write with ringing silence in my ears and my insides stirring like they did on a spring day as a child when my sadistic teacher punished me for being too full of energy to finish my math problems by forcing me to stay in from recess day after spring day to do more math problems.
(I don’t resent this teacher for this kind of behavior but I have pitied her all my life. She was a good lady and I know she meant well. I attended her funeral with my dad and I remember breaking the heavy silence on the way home to tentatively inquire with my dad if he thought I contributed to her death in any way. He gently assured me that I was only one of dozens of challenging students that she had survived over the years. Dad told me that she may have contributed to their discomfort, but it was unlikely that any of us were responsible for her death. Dad even said that she was a believer. That conflicted me a little, because it sure wasn’t Christian what she did to me on spring days when I couldn’t concentrate on long interminable columns of arithmetic problems).
Anyway, in Grad School I usually had to toss some things in a bag and get out of the room. To do some reading or writing it helped to go the library where other people were around or hike to a busy shop with gurgling coffee and hissing milk steamers and fragrant espresso and the ambient noise of people murmuring around me. After a brisk walk, with a mug of stout coffee steaming in front of me I could usually get on my game and crank out the work in a setting like that. I’m social that way.
I just don’t do well alone for long. I have a lot of energy. I’ve often met people who think before they speak. I admire that. I’m sure it frustrates people, but I often think while I’m talking. My mind works more like fireworks than a flowchart. I need a lot of stimulation, a lot of conversation, a lot of interaction, so social media are just more opportunities for ministry, conversation, laughter, interaction, stimulation—more people to hear my stories. More people around me with stories to tell. I’m proud to have over 2500 “friends” on Facebook.
Jesus spent time in the wilderness, but you would often find him in the marketpace teaming with sinners and broken people. He moved among needy people. He connected with lepers, religious types, people with dark pasts and shameful lives. He often spoke to multitudes. Whole cities and villages came out to be near him. Sometimes he didn’t even have enough time to eat, so he would get away to the wilderness where multitude followed him, where ironically, he took responsibility to feed them. Jesus loved being among people.
I love the marketplace. Today social media are like the electronic marketplace. Social media are the means common people express their convictions and their prejudice and their ignorance and their weaknesses and their love and their dreams and their aspirations and their hopes and their desires. They reveal their past and their passions. They post their favorites, their likes and dislikes. They announce their celebrations and they lament their pain. Read it. It’s right there for you to see, usually with photos or sometimes even video documentation.
So I’m there on Facebook and Twitter. I post and comment and listen. I laugh, I weep, I pray, I grieve. That just what you do when you are around people. As often as I can I use electronic means to create real, live, person-to-person and face-to-face relationships. That’s just one of the ways I hope to make my mark for Christ and for His Kingdom in the short season of my life on this earth as it is today.
So you can read my blog. You can get my weekly e-mail newsletter (It’s over ten years old). You can subscribe to my RSS feed. You can comment on my articles and stories. You can be my friend on Facebook. Treat me nice and I will send you “Tweets.”
Pastor Ken Pierpont
Evangel Baptist Church—Taylor, Michigan
March 11, 2011