Social Media and the Divine Disconnection



twabsence [twæbsəns] n. a break taken from use of social media, such as Twitter or Facebook (coined 2011 by Jason Sims and Mathis Sneed)


This post has no point. Sorry.

Or, at least, it has no conclusions. This is me working through feelings about a subject that’s too nebulous to have concrete thoughts on at the moment.

It goes back two or three years. I have a friend who quits Twitter and Facebook. A lot.

These days, you don’t even notice. You get a friend request from him, or see that he’s following you, or that someone’s saying you should friend or follow him. And you realize that he’s been gone again.

The part that’s odd to me is that, frequently, in the time he was gone, he’s become someone else; his user name is slightly different than it was the last time you followed him, indicating that he’s actually creating new accounts each time, instead of just returning to the unused one. Why, I don’t know.

But the subtlety of the way it happens lately is a change from the past. In the past, each departure would be marked with a long period of tweets or statii about the fact that he was spending too much time on social media.

That’s right — he was spending time on social media talking about the fact that he was spending too much time on social media (talking about the fact that he was spending too much time on social media [talking about the fact that he was spending too much time on social media {ad nauseum}]). The solution seemed simple — stop talking about it, and then you won’t be.

It’s not uncommon. Author Anne Jackson, whom I follow on Twitter, recently began a month-plus-long Twitter break, having just returned from another two-month break last month. One can look at her Twitter feed and see where it would be overwhelming. If I used Twitter like she does, I might sell more books. Promoting awareness has always been one of my weak suits, and she’s far better at it than I.

Also not uncommon, and very fascinating to me, is the social media Lent break. At least one good friend of mine has stopped using Twitter for Lent. Another person I follow has stopped tweeting after 5 p.m. for the duration.

Others are curtailing their social media use in other ways for Lent. It’s fun logging in on Sunday and watching them catch up on what they’ve missed saying.

I wrote on Ash Wednesday about Lent and what I was doing this year, but I don’t know that I got deep enough into one of my major issues with the way a lot of people treat Lent — they either give up something bad, or they give up something good.

Many people use Lent as an opportunity to give up something they really feel like they probably shouldn’t be doing anyway. And then, after 40 days, they go back to doing it. If it’s really something you shouldn’t be doing, don’t give it up for Lent. Give it up. Period.

Other people give up things that are actually good things, in order to give something up. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, the time is always right to do the right thing. If you should be doing it, don’t stop.

The better approach I’ve seen is to give up luxuries. There’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re not needed, and their absence prompts an awareness, and that awareness can lead to the contemplative discipline that I think is at the core of Lent.

The problem there is that, again, there’s often little long-term beneficial take-away from it. People often choose luxuries that they believe they over-indulge in. So for Lent, they give it up. And after Lent, they all to often return to the way it was before. Because nothing has changed. Because the secret isn’t in being able to give something up temporarily.

The secret is in moderation.

Which brings us back to social media.

Personally, and this is just my bias, I disagree with giving up social media for Lent. The reality is, we live in an age when social networking is an important part of how we communicate. As Christians, we have an obligation to communicate. Our job is to share our gospel. In my opinion, at the point where we make ourselves less effective communicators, we fall down on our divine obligation.

I’ve had several people say they don’t use Facebook or Twitter or other social media because they don’t want what it is.

Well, what is it?

Many years ago, I toured William Faulker’s Rowan Oak home in Oxford, Miss., and the tour guide said something I wish I could remember about how Faulkner used the telephone. Basically, the upshot of it was that Faulkner believed that the telephone in his house was not there for other people’s convenience, it was there for his convenience.

Amen, brother.

But we lose track of that. We carry a cell phone so that other people can get in touch with us. It becomes not a convenience, but an obligation.

Me, I believe that’s why my cell phone has voicemail. Leave me a message, and if I believe it’s worth my time, I’ll call you back. Otherwise, I’ll respond in a way that’s respectful of both of our time.

But I digress.

Social networking is no different. It is what you make it.

Facebook, in particular, is one of the most versatile tools to come down the pike in a very long time. For one friend, it’s about keeping in touch with classmates. For another, it’s about rescuing dogs. For another, it’s about promoting her writing. For another, it’s about playing games. And those are just personal accounts, without getting into pages and the like.

The flip side of that, however, is that, because there is so much it can be, it can become more than you want it to be. Let Facebook become how you play games and how you keep up with friends and how you promote your band and how you do whatever else, and it gets to be too much.

Moderation.

Twitter’s more focused, but even in the one or two things it does well, it can become too much. It would easily be possible to follow enough people who are posting enough that it would take all your waking time to keep up with it.

Moderation.

But the same thing is true of any means of communication. You could write letters all day. You could talk on the phone all day. You could read books all day.

Any of that would be unhealthy. But so would not communicating.

Moderation.

My challenge would be, don’t give up social media for Lent.

Develop a social media strategy for Lent.

But whatever your reason for taking a break, don’t take a break that’s going to return you to being overwhelmed after Easter or in May or after a month or whatever you’re giving it up for.

We share the Word by sharing our lives. And in this day and age, social media is one of the best tools we have for doing that. Every tweet doesn’t have to be about God for it to serve Him. It just has to build relationships. To make connections. So that those may let Him be seen in you.

If you’re a Christian, and you’re giving up social media for religious reasons, my challenge would be this — am I using this in a way that serves God or not. If so, don’t give it up. If not, then don’t just give it up for Lent. Give it up. Period. And ask yourself how it could be better used.

In moderation.

Regular Richie Feature


B.B. King at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontari...

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Once again, search strings that have brought people to “Stories In My Pocket” over the course of the last month.

  • story about “what the best youth should be for our country
  • whats with this stupid haircut? pyramid haircut
  • can i use my guatemalan passaport to get in night clubs here in nashville tn?
  • if my two year old took any excedrin pill 800 ml how would he act
  • bible cd do not have women and stepfather
  • how to write an essay about having a wonderful time with good food,good music and good company.suddenly there was an earth-shaking crash
  • ronald reagan pocket
  • funny stories about ninjas in space
  • ah think is ganin tuh be fun fo’ yee watchin me struggle wi’ this next yeor.
  • why girls hate angry birds game
  • what do the words nasa stand for
  • feel like having church
  • mullets are awesome my mom has won
  • is nasa hiding something 2011 ca7
  • write one abomination story
  • pocket god barbecue time quest
  • cheesecake namaste myers brigg one later blog
  • what special thing did b.b. king do in his life
  • what religious figure does neil armstrong have a large green bust of in his living room?
  • the shuttle going down to save the miners in chile
  • what would happen to the demand curve for metallica cds if they became unpopular?

This Makes Me Happy


Lori McKenna sent this out to her e-mail list earlier this week. Note the bottom quote. (Click to embiggen.)

(The review the quote is from is here.)

Post Of The Day


Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

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Hello. How’s everybody doing?

Welcome to today’s post. Today’s post is about the fact that this is today’s post.

I’ve been doing the Post A Day thing officially for about 40 days now, and unofficially for 50. Before that, I only missed three days in the month of December.

It’s not really that I don’t have anything to say; I have a whole list of topics I want to blog about. And I’m not really getting burned out per se.

Part of how I’ve managed to do as well as I have with the daily blogging is that I’m not doing daily blogging, I’m just writing a post per day. I might write four posts on one day, and none the next two. That way, there’s no pressure on any given day to blog.

This week, however, has been different. There have been several days that I didn’t have a post for the next day; if I wanted any flexibility, and if I wanted to keep to my 8-a.m.-ish publication schedule, I had to write something that day. And, now, I’m writing today’s post today, something I’ve not done in a while. (There have been times that I’ve published a second post for a day the day I wrote it, but generally not the main post.)

And having to blog takes the fun out of blogging. I have less desire to blog than when I don’t have to, which is just increasing the pressure that in turn is making it harder to blog which is increasing the pressure, and so forth.

The irony is, I’m generally a deadline writer; I produce better when there’s more pressure and a more defined schedule.

But, for whatever reason, that doesn’t carry over so much into blogging.

OK, I’ve written a post now. That pressure’s off. Hopefully I can get some more done soon, and build up a backlog again.

What You’re Looking For


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

So one of the benefits of the traffic increase of having been Freshly Pressed twice is that Google takes me more seriously now, and I get a lot more search engine traffic on the blog now that I did three months ago.

My old blog used to get more search traffic than this one did until recently, and I used to do an occasional post about searches that had brought people to the blog. A lot of the searches on this one are pretty straightforward queries related to a handful of posts, but I’m starting to get enough traffic that I’m starting to see some amusing searches show up.

That said, interesting search strings on SIMP in the last month:

  • where can i get me a machine that i can carry in my pocket to spell words
  • mississippi billboard “we are all losers”
  • crude palm oil will hit to myr 4200 by the end of the month december 2010
  • forest in my pocket
  • my laptop cords powerpoint is like beside my bed sorta thing, and somehow it fell out, and a bit of it was hanging out, and sparks were going everywhere! i was like s—! quickly turns power point off .
  • sam flynn smile
  • www jazz hitt com
  • whats a good lego set
  • transformers imagine 20 years from now get in the car
  • bay town texas makes incence illiegal
  • stone and water in iphone
  • read this sentence from the passage: they both cost the same, and if the two salads decide to get married, they can have a bunch of little salads and send them all off to salad school to take reading comprehension tests.in this sentence, the author is explaining how
  • thas wat made me myne crazy high but i spot a traitor out my lazy eye lady spy i’m tha one they wana hav thea baby by maybe i’m beta off alone keeps me in my zone
  • which are things in that needed in the notice of petrol pump notice on no smokina for what?why?
  • bears in my pocket
  • ugly guy mullet moustache
  • teachers book writing reports on future robots tigers laser lemon limit major minor and valid
  • & i’ve changed? i dont have lighters in my bra, i’m not asking people for ciggs, i don’t have smoker hands, and i don’t believe in cutting myself to ease pain. i have nothing to hide. you can’t find a boy, maybe because you hang out with bad people? i know i get heart broken, but i bounce back. pills, they’re also not the answer, so if you wanna tell me ive changed, then your blind
  • how to make lego armor with play doh
  • clint eastwood my mull
  • give us small topics over usefulness of forest to mankind in hindi font
  • embarrassing incident at harry potter movie and projector
  • what would happen to the demand curve for metallica cds if they became unpopular?
  • piggly wiggly/mississippi
  • what is the meanning of this proverb”he who brings kola brings life but i think you ought to break it
  • show me a picture of a mullet haircut on a woman
  • photographs of squatters living in batcave in brooklyn in early 1980s before closed
  • diluting concentrated sulfuric acid with water can be dangerous. the temperature of the solution can increase rapidly. what are the signs of dh, ds, and dg for this process?
  • what i should do in my house if i am bored and i also dont have any pets or tele and i am bored sitting on the computer too i am a primary student
  • ole miss improv
  • the “chocolate or vanilla” rule
  • soviet futures stories
  • birds take so long to die + angry birds
  • lori skylab
  • i’m david hitt, am i on meth?
  • johnny depp what am i to do? then i recall, in my pocket i have a sketch of something rustic, with limbs; i put it out, and deliver…
  • preacher from huntsville wrote a book
  • well wookie
  • people dying because of facebook stories
  • a nation that loses the _______ of honesty loses its __________.
  • if you were a purple monkey and your dad was a yellow starfish could you drive a limo up a pole at sundown?
  • if your parents not give you 4 presents and everyone elas does what do they do after christmas
  • nasa village of santa
  • a movie then go back farm time of insulin to kill him
  • kid deleted angry birds from ipod touch can you reload
  • grisham’s the confession banned in boston
  • babies have their whole lives ahead of them
  • david hitt cigars
  • what is the luxury of knowing about keith urban

Meet The ‘Press


The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

OK, so the coolest thing about being Freshly Pressed is that it’s made me more aware of being a part of the WordPress community.

Before starting this blog, I had been blogging using a different, downloadable system, and so I was used to thinking of WordPress just as a tool, and not as a community.  Having my eyes opened has been a great experience. It’s been really cool seeing a post turn into a conversation, and seeing that conversation flow over the borders of just this one blog. It’s been great having some of you stick around after the initial Freshly Pressed excitement so we can get to know each other a little better.

I wrote the other day that I was starting the Daily Post challenge.  One of the things WordPress suggests to help with that is using their Press This tool to use other people’s posts as inspiration.

The Freshly Pressed experience and the Daily Post challenge have inspired me to want to want to become more involved in the WordPress community, and I was wondering if there were any of you out there that would want to work together this year — committing to subscribe to each other’s blogs, read them, comment, maybe do some cross-linking or Press This, and generally just encouraging each other? Or, for that matter, is there a community like that already? ( U3F7J5TE5SDD )

The Daily Post


The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

There are ideas, and then there are bad ideas.

This, I imagine, falls into the latter category.

I read this thing on WordPress the other day about the Post A Day 2011 challenge.  The idea is, shockingly, that you post on your blog every day in 2011. (There’s also a Post A Week challenge for people who post less frequently, but I’m way past that.)

I’m already pretty close to the post-per-day mark lately (in fact, I might should take the Post A Week challenge to bring my count down), but I thought this would be an interesting project, particularly as some other projects, like Reconstruction, that I’ve been doing wind down.  There have also been some things in the last couple of months that have boosted the profile of my blog a bit, so this seems like a next logical step.

That said — I’m not writing on my blog every day, I’m posting on my blog every day. I’ve already gotten into the habit of scheduling things to publish in advance, and that’ll be part of how I do this.  There are days that are just not days for blogging, ya know?

And, also, to me, to some extent, a blog is shared between a writer and readers. Some of you read via an aggregator or e-mail subscription, and really may not want a post a day from me. If it’s getting to be too much, or not worth it. Let me know.

Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow.

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