Monday, November 17, 2008

Is There a Point?

Do people ever ask you what's the point of blogging, or completely dismiss the internet, blogging, and social networking as a complete waste of time? I've heard a bit of criticism over the years, since our family is quite computer-oriented. Wes was a programmer in the Air Force during the years that the internet and email were being introduced into the general population, so we were online before many of our friends and family members were. We've heard lots of criticism of spending time online, much of it valid. While it's true that the internet can be a huge time-waster, it's also true that things like blogging can be a great blessing and help to others and even a witness for Christ.

I read a well-balanced article the other day from Dr. Cary Schmidt, a staff member at Lancaster Baptist Church, where our son is attending college, entitled Blogs and Twitters - Is There a Point? He addressed some of the concerns I've heard myself over the years, such as how dark the internet can be, and as a result, that Christians should have nothing to do with it. Dr. Schmidt addressed that very opinion clearly . . .
Well, the internet and the world of social networking is killing our kids! They are becoming addicted to it and using it in all the wrong ways. They are getting sucked into all sorts of wickedness and perversion through things like “myspace.” They are wasting their lives with mindless web time and pointless chatter. While I could bury my head, make rules against it all, and pretend it isn’t happening—it is. And it isn’t going anywhere. We need spiritual leaders who will learn technology and then teach future leaders how to use it and how not to use it. Our young people need to see moderation, appropriateness, and strategic caution when it comes to these things. (emphasis mine)
In the course of his article, Bro. Schmidt gives ten positive reasons to be a part of blogging and social networking, and follows up with four negative aspects of the internet. He comes to the same conclusion that I do:
These technologies should be peripheral to our lives, not central. God still loves people and desires our lives to be invested into real, healthy, and growing relationships. May God enable us to be in balance—to use technology for His glory and the edification of people He loves.
The internet has become a real part of our lives. We can't dismiss it or pretend it doesn't exist, and I believe we do need leaders - pastors, teachers, and for us ladies, pastors' wives and mothers and sisters - who know how to use the technology available in a meaningful, positive, and safe way to help build up those around us. I certainly don't think everybody has to delve into blogging or spend the time to learn their way around the internet, but for those of us so inclined, we can be a help to the generation of people coming behind us. We can say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

So what do you have to say? Do you face criticism for blogging? Do you struggle with how much time to spend online (I do!)? If you have the time, please read Dr. Schmidt's article and let me know if you have some thoughts about how we as Christian women can use the internet wisely, as an example for our daughters to follow.

4 comments:

  1. I think people always fear new things. The youth are much more open. My husband recently opened a Facebook account to be in touch with our many nieces and nephews spread across the globe.
    It has been wonderful to have this connection and has led to emails and chats about important issues they are facing.
    This was all through the internet. We are able to interact intimately with family thousands of miles away.
    It has been suggested that Obama's campaign gained the youth vote by it's strategic use of the internet. If the church does not use this media we will be forfeiting a powerful outlet and tool.
    Having said that, a friend of mine is now divorced as her husband became involved with a girl via texting! So rules and accountability are necessary.
    We all have each others passwords and read each others comments and emails. We use laptops in public common areas of the house and have filters as well as accountability reports.
    The biggest factor is time online. We are still trying to figure that our with the two teenagers. Being new here they do not yet have many friends here and have friends in every time zone across the world. These are all kids we know and feel that it is ok for them to spend time socializing in this way to some extent. As long as we do not see them avoiding real people and family in order to be online, as long as they are fulfilling their other requirements, we do allow them to spend a good amount of time in this way.

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  2. Thanks, Rita! I agree that people do fear new things. I think a lot of that fear is because there have been so many instances of people getting involved in relationships they shouldn't have and in seeing things they shouldn't be looking at. Wes has helped several pastors learn how to help their church families get internet filtering.

    We also keep each other accountable. Wes has full access to every computer in the house. Although I am on Facebook, no one else in the house is - Wes isn't interested, and he doesn't feel comfortable letting Andrew and Beth on it. Also, every computer in the house faces out into the room and/or the door, and a couple of us have laptops which we use in the living room, with everyone else around.

    The more I think about it, the more I agree with Dr. Schmidt that we do have to learn to use the technology and use it for good. It's not going to go away, and the generation coming up now knows nothing else.

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  3. Great article, Susan.

    I think every era has struggled with new technology -- TVs, filmstrips, even radio when it first came out. It saddens me when leaders' first response is that it is all bad -- that just alienates people, especially youth. I like Dr. Schmidt's approach of watching things for a while and letting the dust settle before making a judgment.

    Like you and he said, and like what has happened with the other technologies, they are not going away, and they can be a force for good. I haven't gotten into Twitter, but Facebook and blogging have been great forms of encouragement to me (and I trust from me to others). And with those means and e-mail, prayer requests spread across the globe at lightening speed.

    I like the accountability factors you, he, and Rita mentioned.

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  4. Good post! I have one on close to the same issue almost done.
    As for our family everyone has their own pc in our house and everyone, even Scott and I, folow the same rules.
    1. We have the open door policy for our family, if your computer is on your door is open.
    2. Like your family all monitors face the door so that what every is going on can be seen.
    3. No one except me has a facebook account or anything like that. Not that I use it.
    4. Scott has full access to all files on all computers and I have access to his.
    5. Sydney blogs and plays an online game as do the boys but we have a week-day time limit to try to curb addiction.

    I think like anything parents must know what is going on with their kids and watch for problems. As for Scott and I we try to hold each other accountable for the amount of time we spend on and what we are doing when on.

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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