Opting Out to Opt In!

Foursquare. Tout. Klout. Posterous. Get Glue. Tumblr. Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Google+. MySpace. YouTube. Instagram. StumbleUpon. LinkedIn. FriendFeed. I’ve been a part of all of them, and more. So…

Today I’ve been opting out of social networking services.  I’m amazed at how many networks I belong to. One reason is that I’m an early adapter. If I hear of something new I usually like to sign up and check it out. But it seems a good time to start cutting the ropes and simplifying my online life. A few people have asked me about why I’m doing this. How honest am I going to get on my own blog?

I like it too much. I don’t know who coined the term ‘surfing the internet’, but it is a very accurate description. It really brings me a lot of joy to maintain so many great connections. I know I’m not alone because I see many of you in those various spaces. But because there are so many people in so many social networks  and different people in different places, each one has it’s own flavor. It has been too much of a draw for me for too long. Is it an addiction? It certainly has qualities of such, and I don’t like that. There are times when I’m racking my brain thinking I meant to post something somewhere and I can’t remember where I posted it, and where I didn’t. I’m not really feeling good about that. My online connections have kept me from reading some books I want to read and writing some things I want to write. I want to spend more time with my wife. I look at the clock and chunks of time have passed by. I don’t like that. Confession might be good for the soul but it’s a bit embarrassing too. Still, I think there are a lot of people just like me. The motives are good, but the price is high.

I’m not ready to turn off the connection, though. I guess one thing that really got me to thinking about this was (ironically) a blog post from Tim Ross. I heard him speak at the Right Now Conference. He did not address this, but as I looked for his online connections (sensing a trend here?) I came across this post (HERE)  that really struck me. I am still convicted (for myself) that online social networking is nearly essential in today’s ministry climate. Facebook recently hit ONE BILLION USERS (and I have nearly a thousand ‘friends’). One cannot deny the missional possibilities of using Facebook to reach out, as well as it being a primary contact source via messages, our church Facebook group, and whatever group of friends you’re still reading. (You do have a lot of control over what you actually see, as I wrote about HERE.)

So, I have disengaged from several social networking sites … and there are more to come. I will maintain a relationship with the two predominant ones, Facebook and Twitter. My goal, however, is to pull back from both of those. That will be tricky … how do you use them without being drawn into them in an endless social networking spiral? Good question. A few networks I will retain some distant relationship with because of other connections. For example, my daughter posts pics of the grandkids on InstaGram. I also intend to maintain this blog, as I have for many  years.

Here are some of the guidelines I hope to live by in my ‘online life’ in the future:

*Am I posting something that will benefit, uplift, encourage those who read it. I love posting Scripture via YouVersion as I read. I can’t think of anything but good that can come of that.

*Am I posting a pointer to something good … a link to a great writing … a notice that I’ve added something to the blog.

*Am I responding to direct messages and inquiries and posts of friends … that’s just how people communicate today. I will say, though, that an email is going to get a quicker response than a Facebook message.

*Am I spending some down time enjoying the posts of my friends … not using up time when I should be doing something else more important?

*Am I reading/posting in specific ways that are a benefit to others? For example, I have a Facebook group that is made up of ministers and Christian workers. I not only enjoy maintaining that group, I gain a lot of wisdom from it.

*Am I maintaining an awareness of the time spent in any given network?

Some things I am going to attempt to avoid … 

*Joining new networks. I know…the great Facebook killer is just beyond the horizon. Right.

*I’m not opting out of other networks so I have more time for Facebook and Twitter. I’m looking to spend less time there, not more.

*Playing games. I’ve enjoyed the games so much, I’ve always been a game player. But so many of them are immersive and have multiple levels and never end. I’ll keep my Games by GSN app for short periods of gameplay. Othewise, I’m going to give up most of the games.

I’m actually opting out, so I can opt in – to some things I’d really like to do for God, others, and myself. Given the capability to post links to Facebook and Twitter from almost every website, the use of buffer, and other means… you’ll still see my name pop up plenty. My attempt is surely flawed, but short of going cold turkey, I’m hoping to take a great tool and use it for God’s glory. Pray for me on that matter.

I’m sure I’ll be learning as I go. Your thoughts are welcomed … what’s worked for you, what hasn’t. I pray that whatever strategy we all need in our lives, we will opt out of things that are not drawing us closer to His mission, and opt in to the connections and people that He can use us to bless and love.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

   

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