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We live in a social media age. Unless you’ve chosen to live off the e-grid you’re probably participating in some kind of social media experience, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Incredibly, more people are now active monthly on Facebook, about 2.07 billion, than the population of the United States and China combined. It’s a global village.

With this kind of connectivity, and with immediacy made possible by mobile devices, anyone who wants to “talk to the world” can do so in seconds by posting online. This is interesting, good in some measure, not so good in others--reason being, it’s not the content of the post but the people posting that matter. They’re the ones who are good in some measure, not so good in others.

Since the 2016 US Presidential election campaign, it seems more people (around the globe not just in the States) are posting regularly about politics, and in particular, often posting about President Donald Trump. This is occurring for many reasons—

  • the ease of access of social media,
  • increasingly divided politics, ideologically, ethnically, demographically, and otherwise,
  • Pres. Trump’s ongoing use of Twitter, and
  • the president’s persona—bigger than life, at the center of every issue whether you like him or his views, or not.

All this means more politics in social media.

One of the staples of this growing politicization of social media (Maybe we should just throw in the towel and call it political media?) are shoot-from-the-lip reaction-posts. You don’t like what’s said or happening, so you reach for your device, go online, and let it rip, posting your rant and venting your emotions without filter.

OK, if you want to rant or vent on social media, go ahead, it’s a free country, at least it’s constitutionally supposed to be (The US is experiencing an increase in individual’s or groups’ attempts to limit the First Amendment free speech of others, particularly people or groups with whom they disagree). But the problem with venting or ranting regularly is that after a while few people pay attention, other than those who already share your view. So, you’re mostly preaching to the choir. And though you may not care, you gain the reputation of a malcontent, a curmudgeon, one who “Cries wolf,” or simply an unpleasant associate.

Let me say outright: There are better ways to comment, critique, or criticize than ranting or venting. I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak. I’m saying there is a better way than politically ranting or venting. By “better” I mean more effective, more likely to reach and influence others. Isn’t that the purpose of your rant, to reach others?

With venting, maybe not. Maybe it’s just to blow off your own steam. Either way, social media is inundated with these kinds of posts and even the social media industry is beginning to consider ways to “re-socialize” social media, i.e. reduce one-n-done negative political rants.

As an aside, I’ll add that the other problem with social media posts, specifically those involving “friends,” “fans,” or “followers,” is that your post primarily reaches a subset of these people. Theoretically you can speak to the world via social media but due to complex algorithms that’s not generally how it works. Even the President’s well-known tweets reach only his followers, unless and until media quote his comments. If you want to speak into culture, win friends, and influence others, maybe you should consider launching a blog that’s available to the “world wide” web.

Now, how can we comment, critique, or criticize in an influential manner?

  • Check your facts. Nothing undercuts credibility more quickly than false statements—something presidential candidate Hilary Rodham Clinton and Pres. Trump have had to learn in their use of social media. Just take the time to do a little research online. If something bothering or encouraging you is indeed false, why waste time on it? If something with which you agree or disagree is indeed true and happening, then speaking up with a firm foundation of factual data reinforces your point of view.
  • Popping off is just popping off. We’re back to ranting and venting. Maybe it helps you feel better, so go ahead, but I recommend tossing your text after it’s written. Don't post popping off. In the pre-social media days, I used to write letters in which I dumped my arguments and feelings about organizational developments that concerned me, but then I destroyed the letters, never sending any of them, ever. Made me feel better but I didn’t spread around hastily-conceived negative thoughts. If I really had something substantive to say, I took the time to develop my argument and shared it with the right people in the right place at a later time.
  • Gotcha posts aren’t worth much. Other than giving you a reputation of a self-appointed watchdog with nothing of your own to contribute, gotcha posts are just jabs, more of the same, just one more chance for you to say, "Look what the bad pol has done now." For example, whatever you think of Republican or Democrat posturing or comments, constantly posting the latest perceived faux pas of the other side doesn’t change the narrative. What do you think? If you were a political leader, or in the Oval Office, what would you do? How would you suggest we encourage Middle East peace, or what policies do you support re immigration reform? So it goes. Say something meaningful. Add to the conversation. Add an alternative idea. Gotcha is old news.
  • Talk about issues rather than people. Focus your posts and arguments on the issue of the moment instead of adding another round of gossipy criticism of a politician you don’t like. OK, you don’t like him or her, we get that, but what do you think about the issue?
  • Respect others and their right to hold their views. Attacking the person(s) holding views different from your own does not advance your argument. It just lets us know you don’t like that man or woman. I’m weary of posts using terms like “moron,” “idiot,” “crazy person” to describe political leaders whose views one does not appreciate. Even if a political leader somehow deserves these appellations, what good does it do to keep labeling him/her this on social media? And do you really want to use this kind of low-level vocabulary in your political discussions?
  • Comment and Critique rather than Criticize. Comment is any statement, positive or negative, good or bad. Critique is analysis, which could be critical but may not be and is best based upon studied reflection and review of data. Criticizing or criticism generally implies a negative assessment, which is why the term “constructive criticism” is used to describe an evaluation that attempts to be helpful, no matter the nature of the review. Learning to offer critique that respects others and their right to hold their views, respects the democratic process, and ultimately attempts to resolve a problem is better than criticism per se that offers nothing but cutting disapproval.
  • Seriously consider others’ views. Before you post, comment or critique and especially criticism, give a careful look-see at others’ views. Many seemingly either/or issues are not either/or. They’re more complex than this, and frequently there are points of agreement that could further the discussion if acknowledged.
  • One side of the partisan aisle is not always right. You may not agree with this, but over time it is easy to document that both Republicans and Democrats, men and women, Liberals and Conservatives, Whites and Blacks, etc. etc. are at times in the wrong. So go slow when you tout loudly the sins of the other. Your turn is coming.

Keep sharing your views, including your comments, critiques, and criticisms, but do so in a way that advances our public conversations about the issues confronting us.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution 

statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

 

My website has been upgraded – brighter, different colors, more easily readable font, new comment/feedback module, better back-end functioning. The work originally and this recent upgrade were completed by my son-in-law, Joe Drouillard of J D Web Design Studio.

The content management system is Joomla, which I like, now that I’ve learned a few basics. It can do much more, but I haven’t needed its full capacity so haven’t spent time on a learning curve. But what I can do gets the job done for me.

In my opinion, simple or fairly straightforward web designs are best. I don’t mean dull or boring designs, just designs and lettering that considers the viewer/reader’s eye and makes content as easily accessible as possible.

So, I recommend J D Web Design Studio to you. Joe does good work.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

 *This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Once in awhile I think, “Why don’t people Facebook?”

I recognize people have different interests and time-pressures in their lives, and I certainly recognize it’s a free country. I recognize that FBers don’t constitute “a better class of people” than non-FBers—that’s ridiculous if not self-righteous. But I still find it curious when from time to time I run into people who never connect on Facebook, much less other social media.

Facebook and other social media aren’t the end-all, be-all. In fact, I limit my engagement to Facebook and Twitter and have, thus, consistently turned down other social media invitations. Nothing wrong with the others, in fact, they’re typically competitors of the dominant FB. But I don’t want and can’t keep track of more friend lists.

And maybe that’s how people feel about Facebook. I don’t know.

I do know that with a few-minute scroll on FB I can keep track of what members in our extended family are doing. I’ve connected personally with at least seven high school friends that I have not seen in forty-one years. I’ve connected indirectly with a dozen others, people I never in a million years thought that I’d re-engage, and no doubt they thought the same of me.

I was never a picture-bug, snapping shots at every turn. But now, with an easy outlet available on FB, in the midst of my travels I pause briefly, even stopping the car alongside the road, to take pics of different, odd, or interesting things. And with cameras and smart phones ready-wired to pic software, which in turn connects easily to FB and others social media, who can resist taking a pic of a bigger-than-a-house bronze longhorn?

Anyway, mostly I think people who don’t FB miss a lot. In particular they miss continuing and pleasant interaction with family members, friends, and social media friends. I would wish that pleasantry for them.

But maybe I’m missing something. If you don’t FB and known exactly why, let me know.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Right behind you...maybe a few yards behind...but right behind you!

 

Last winter I began to feel like I was behind the curve on some things that seemed to me to be important to what I am supposed to do professionally. So since that time I've tried to learn a few "new media" and "social media" skills, among them how to:

--shoot and edit video in iMovie, then post it on YouTube,

--develop a YouTube or Vimeo channel,

--post audio and video files on websites or in emails,

--develop video blogs - "vlogs,"

--use website content management systems,

--burn CD or DVDs, including construct menus – yep, I'd never done this, but I have now,

--use Twitter, HootSuite or TweetDeck etc, iTunes, or construct/launch cause-related Facebook pages,

--use QR codes,

--use eReaders like Nook or Kindle, or use ebook software like iBooks, Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions,

--construct and use e-applications of audiobooks,

--acquire ISBN numbers for books and ebooks,

--construct ebooks, and then post, market, and sell them on Amazon Kindle.

I write this not to brag but to say it's been fun and productive. And more importantly, to suggest that I believe all of us should keep learning as much as we can about new/social media. Why? The more we know the better and more knowledgeably we can interact with our children, grandchildren, and culture.

I'm not a pro on any of this. But like learning PowerPoint a few years back, learning how to do basics gives me more freedom in my work and helps me talk to people who know more, so I can ask them to create what I need.

In addition, in the past couple of months I've gotten close-in looks at a couple of other ministry organizations. And frankly, I was amazed to discover how uninformed, unprepared, "behind," and thus unable most of the staff were in terms of new or social media. They didn't know how to do or use much of anything, and I thought then that our staff at SAT-7 USA could run circles around them. But of course we all need to keep learning.

So I write this piece not with an action plan or a to-do list but to encourage you to keep looking for ways to learn to do "new things." The learning curve might sometimes be taxing, but the end result will almost always enrich your professional experience, benefit you personally, and certainly benefit the ministry.

BTW, the old educator in me thinks that one of the things we're going to be doing for eternity in heaven is…learning. Think about it: we're going to hang out with the Omniscient Sovereign God who is never going to run out of cool things to teach us. We're going to learn, which is to say we’re going to go to school forever. Sounds good to me.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Mainline and online news agencies are still enamored of social media. For example, articles reporting the death of singer Amy Winehouse gave as much space to reporting how many Tweets were posted worldwide as they did discussing the woman’s passing.

This has happened before.  During Japan’s earthquake and tsunami tragedy, as well as Haiti’s earthquake months earlier, Twitter trending and Facebook posts garnered ample shares of the coverage. When the Obama Administration makes an announcement social media action is part of the news report. So too with sports: during the Women’s World Cup we were regularly treated to breathless reports about how many Twitter followers Hope Solo or Abby Wambach had gained that day. Social media, it seems, are part of the news, at least for now.

This isn’t going to last. Remember when motels used to advertise “Color TV”?  Now it’s “Free WiFi,” whatever is the latest and greatest draw. The same will happen for social media. The shine will wear off the rose.

There’s some sign this is already happening, at least in terms of people becoming stressed by how many social media are available, how many accounts they establish, and how often they post or check the stream. One article recommended, among several other things, these ways to avoid social media burnout:

- “Identify different and specific uses for your various social networks. Many use Facebook just for friends or family, Twitter as a public persona and LinkedIn for work relationships. Figure out what your priorities are, and stick to them.

- Use software or Web apps for monitoring multiple social networks simultaneously.

- Set specific times to use (or to stay away from) social networks. Take a day off and go get some sun.

- Don't get obsessed with how many Facebook friends or Twitter or Google+ followers you have. Who cares?

- Don't get stressed out about the content you are missing. You do not have to read every tweet or update. Treat your social-media stream like a river - dip in and get out as your time permits.

- Pick your social networks wisely. Some aren't worth your time. If a social network isn't providing value and relevance, ditch it.”

One could argue that articles reporting how Amy Winehouse’s death trended in social media are offering a legitimate comment about her popularity. Maybe. But it still seemed to me to be superfluous and mundane. A young and highly talented woman had died tragically. By comparison, who cares what’s happening in social media?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.