Social Media as a Tool
If you look up social media on Wikipedia this is the first sentence you read.
Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.
So inherent in the discussion (at least here and I assume many other places) is the idea that when we think of social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, You Tube, etc.)….we think tools.
So is social media, in and of itself….tools? Is it a tool that helps you do something (i.e. communicate, create, publish, etc.)?
Or is it more than just a tool? A space, destination, community, culture, etc.?
Social Media Beyond a Tool
I have discussed this issue with Tony Steward and I know the issue has arisen over at his blog as well. I won’t speak for Tony, but I think he would say both. Both a “space” and a “tool.”
I’m starting to think of it in these terms. It begins as a tool, but eventually leads one to a space, destination, community. In this process, the tool becomes pretty much second nature, and you no longer think of it in terms of a tool.
An artist works with paints, oils, brushes, canvas…those are tools. But the end product is the art.
A writer works with paper, pen, computer, typewriter…those are tools. But the end product is the art.
An athlete works with weights, exercise, drills…those are tools. But the end product is the athleticism.
A chef works with measuring cups, bowls, knives…those are the tools. But the end product is the meal.
All these tools ultimately lead each to who they are and what they do. The tools become second nature…something the artist or chef is aware of, but it’s not the tools that concerns them, but the art and the meal.
I think the same can be said of social media. Twitter, Facebook and my blog are just tools that I use…but my end product is relationships, connecting, going deeper, sharing life, etc. I, therefore, no longer think of social media as just my tools, but rather as something that leads me to where I want to go…it’s pretty much second nature. I don’t want to go too deep with this…but in and of themselves…Twitter, Facebook and my blog are just that…tools…if I have no end sight in mind…if there is nothing relational and community oriented connected to it.
The Christian Life
I started thinking about this also in terms of the Christian life. Dare I say, the Bible is just a tool, IF it doesn’t lead us to a living out of the reality it talks about and enables us to do. If we don’t exemplify the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, or if we do not participate in the Body of Christ, using the spiritual gifts that we have been given(as well as a number of other passages), then haven’t we just left the Bible to be a tool, with no reality in our daily life? (Disclaimer: Not saying the Word of God is just a tool either…I’m saying we treat it as one if it leads us to no daily living out of its reality in our lives).
So if social media is only tools, then to what end? And if we as Christians only use social media as tools, with no greater purpose, then to what end?
I’m wrestling through this…thinking on this issue a lot. So any comments or dialogue is well appreciated.