2005: “What is this ‘Facebook’ and why do I need to be on it?”
2008: “What is a ‘Twitter?’ Is it another thing I have to check, and why do I need a blog? What is a blog?”
2012: I wrote a blog post on being a Christian Black man in America after the death of Trayvon Martin, received 10,000 hits in 24 hours.
2016: Associate Director of Ministry in Digital Spaces
Social Media was a platform I didn’t understand. As an 80s baby and a 90s kid, I remember when the internet came into being, along with smartphones and apps we know and love—and occasionally hate. I was introduced to Facebook as a means of keeping up with my students when I was a campus staff of a BCM chapter. I joined Twitter because of a conversation with staff a few years younger than me who were utterly shocked I had never heard of the it. I didn’t touch it for another two years.
Then Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, and while news reports and ethnic communities told differing stories and racial tensions began to climb—actually be unearthed—in the country, I turned to my blog as a means of healing my mind and soul in order to move forward in life. I wanted to write about what it was like to be a Christian Black man living in the United States, navigating the complexities of having an eternal hope in Jesus while almost daily experiencing the denial of the image of God in me because of the color of my skin. I wrote a blog post as I had been doing the last few months. This time, one hundred people didn’t just read it, they forwarded it on Twitter and Facebook and Tumbler and everywhere else. 10,000 hits in 24 hours, over 20,000 by the end of the week and I realized very quickly: social media is an onramp to another world—a digital world.
Even more, beyond reading my blog, people began to ask questions, pushback, and dialogue with me about race, ethnicity, culture, and faith. Students and peers would message me asking if/when I was writing again about current events. Without my knowledge, I developed an expectation of my leaders to contribute theologically and contextually into the digital world. In less than a decade, I went from not seeing the relevance of the social media to recognizing its impact on relationships, understanding, and community in both the digital and physical world.
The digital world can easily be interpreted through the gospel. It was created for good, a means of global communication and community. It has been marred by evil. We have seen social media be used as weapons of verbal pain and destruction. People too often troll rather than listen to differing opinions. However, Digital Spaces are also incredible places to meet people from all walks of life, with incredible stories and varying manifestations of the universal brokenness that only the good news of Jesus can heal.
I hadn’t considered I could be someone sent into digital space to listen, engage, and invite people to consider how Jesus might call the people of God to respond to issues affecting college students and the country. It just happened. I stumbled upon a community of people longing to be heard, open to new conversations, grasping for handles in order to interpret the world, and ultimately looking for hope.
That’s why I joined Ministry in Digital Spaces. I discovered another “nation” where disciples of Jesus can be made. It’s rich in diversity, culture, language, and perspective. There is a standing invitation to all who would desire to join.
It’s a new place to be salt and light...one tweet at a time.