I Blog Because I’m Happy, I Blog Because I Care… Social Media and Blogging (For Cat)

(Readers who don’t like blogs about blogs, this one’s not for you.  Every once in awhile bloggers challenge each other with some issue. This is one of those. I’m only posting this because I was asked to, so that others could find it later.)

Yow. My friend Cat Chapin-Bishop asked a billion questions about social media, blogging,ego and their connections to faith. This is my response

First batch: Do I spend more time on Facebook and the internet than I should? Does my time on-line get in the way of or aid my faith life? How much of blogging is to feed my ego and how much is for God?

This has been the biggest challenge of all sorts of ministry for me, so it’s no wonder it’s a question that comes up for blogging. Part of me says I have no right to preach, to blog, to speak out as though my opinion counts for more than someone else’s. I am aware that my opinion doesn’t mean more than others’, but still… The title of this blog is about this very struggle. At first, I waited to write anything . I wrote sort of as an act of rebellion to hear myself think. Is that ego? Yes. Is it me struggling to balance out my place in the world with prevailing thought? Yes.

Then I got positive responses, and I enjoyed it. It connected me to, and spoke for others in, a community I didn’t even know was out there. I think this is like the Spirit trying to break free into the world and part of me thinks that my opinion is supposed to count more than others for some reason. I write because I feel compelled to. As long as I write for this reason, it’s like being led and speaking in Friends meeting. Also, like speaking in meeting, my opinion is one of many out there, and I have to respectfully listen to others (in comments) about others.   I also write to share the beauty of others’ gifts. I am aware that doesn’t happen in life very often and is part of ministry — sharing good news — that I wouldn’t get to do otherwise.  Other bloggers do that as well, and I like it when I see it. That’s probably 90% or 95% of the time.

The other 5 -10% is me trying to make myself feel like a good liberal. That doesn’t feel anywhere near as congruent as my other writing, it feels more hollow, but even that — because I generally like liberal beliefs, I feel like the world can handle my sloppiness and it’s not horrible writing.  I believe in the ability of others to stand up for their own opinions and wade through this. In fact I count on them to.

I love Facebook. I find it to be nearly always worth my time, because I value my friends — and I have smart, good-hearted friends so I like to check in with them and their lives, even if I don’t always agree with them. The internet, on the other hand, is a seeping cesspool of places my soul can go. I spend hours looking at things that are shallow and unworthy of anybody’s time. The “slideshows” on Huffington Post are the perfect examples here. Also, the things that are designed to be scurrilous — like the slideshows — lead me toward paths I’d rather not go. I don’t do cat memes or any memes, generally. I don’t do really stupid things on social media. For that I watch a movie and spend quality time being stupid/silly.

Cat asks: What are the dangers social media pose to faithfulness? Beyond the addictive qualities of Upworthy videos and Grumpy Cat memes, I’m aware of the hope for admiration, the temptation to write what may be reblogged rather than what is deeply true or important, and the temptation to be overly strategic in blogging–thinking of blogging frequency and length in terms of what will drive traffic rather than what is faithful–or is that OK on some level? (Peter speaks of how glad he is that I maintain an audience for our blog with my posts, so he will have one when he is led to post. Is that actually reasonable for my own posts, too–write the light ones so the spiritually led ones will find an audience?)

I actually worry briefly about all of the things, but that’s a thing about capitalism/hippy conflicts — about trying to be “too commercial”. I have had good friends now think about writing blogs themselves because of mine, so I think what Peter is saying is probably true… The thing is that I write pretty much the same things in the same way each time. I never know , any more than I did when I preached, what is going to be well-thought-of and get a huge audience and what isn’t. This brings about a certain humility all by itself.