If Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride had been confronted with references to so-called social networks, he might have said this (a quip to Vizzini, to the little dude who kept saying, “Inconceivable!”):
You keep using zat word. I do not sink it means what you sink it means.
I commend this brief blogpost on social networks to my readers: http://lisadelay.com/blog/2013/06/06/likes-vs-hugs-upgrade-your-reality/.
A “social network” is at best a shadow of the real thing. As fellow¹ blogger Lisa Colón Delay warns, let’s not allow our media of choice to make “shallow mockeries of communion and fellowship.” Real relationships may be enriched by technology, but they are neither subject to it nor bound by it. Hear Paul to the believers in Thessalonika in the following quote from one of the two earliest surviving Christian texts:
But as for us, dear friends, we felt like parents who, in a very real sense, had our children ripped away, right out of our arms. We could not see your faces but our hearts dwelled on you every minute. We were simply beside ourselves in our longing to see you! We tried our hearts out to come see you—I, Paul, countless times! But Satan got in our way. Think about it—when we stand in the presence of our LORD Jesus at his Parousia, will you not be our very pride and joy? Will you not embody our hope? You know you will! You are the ones who make us beam with happiness! (1 Thessalonians 2:17-19, Coffee With Paul Translation, © Gary D. Collier)
We might imagine a Paul who would have used FB and even Twitter (okay … maybe not Twitter — it doesn’t allow enough linguistic characters per concept). But can you imagine a Paul who would have satisfied with nothing but electronic media?
To conclude . . . please notice the words of the beloved Fred Rogers of the erstwhile PBS television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Rogers stated,
I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there’s some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen.
Now there’s a perceptive, missional heart.
¹ I doubt Lisa would prefer my adjective “fellow” here. I mean no disrespect to her gender. I tried other words and couldn’t find any as apt. Plus, I don’t care too much about gender-inclusive language; for instance, for me, it will always be correct to use masculine pronouns as neutral.