The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow: 5 Reasons Why I Engage in Social Networking

A few weeks ago I cross-posted some thoughts about race over on SFGate.  And while the conversations on my blog and Facebook about the post were not always in total agreement, the tone and posture of the dialogue was civil, hopeful and I believe a driven by yearning to get somewhere together.

Well now . . . the lets "get somewhere together" feel was not so present over on the my SFGate post.  Sure, there are many reasons why this could be: no one really knows me personally, race is always a touchy subject and well, lets be honest, many of the folks who take the time to comment in SFGate probably don't see their participation as one of being part of a greater search for meaning and truth.

So . . . someone asked me the logical question, "Why do you bother?" This is not the first time people have asked this about my social networking life on twitter, facebook and on blogs. Why bother to navitage all of craziness of social networking?  Why invite interactions in and about the public square? Why open yourself up to such interactions?  Why take so much time? Why engage with people that you don't even know? Again, why bother?

Well, if you really want to know, here are five reasons why I am committed to staying in the social networking arena:

  • Because I need to be part of a community . . .  okay, when it comes right down to it, I like people.  I love hearing about people's stories: their joys, their pains and even the mundane of their meal choices. I believe that even in the smallest gesture of becoming "friends" someone has given me the privilege of being part of their life.  How cool is that?  Also, a vast majority of my interactions are positive, hopeful expand my understanding of the human condition and my own being.  These interactions push and challenge my own beliefs that help to transforming my thinking as well as sharpen my own self-understanding.  It has been said that one cannot be a Christian in isolation so I am compelled to be part of a larger community one filled, yes with the Meanie McMeanies of the world, but ultimately one filled with people all striving to move forward together.

  • Because there are people lurking . . .  One of the interesting things that I have discovered is the great number of people who "lurk" around social networking party.  When I post on SF Gate, I can almost guarantee that there will be at least "you are an idiot because you . . . believe in God, are a "liberal" and/or well, you are just and idiot" type of comment. I used to try and interact in the same way I do on my regular blog, but then realized that the greatest interactions that I have on SF Gate are the notes I receive off-line, the ones where the reader and I have found a connection of faith, parenting, life, etc.  For those interactions - and you know who you are - I am grateful.

  • Because the world is connecting . . .  It would be easier to NOT engage in any social network conversations, to only use it as a way to keep people updated on my life and not have the gall to try and create a space for conversations on public square and faith.  I do get that, and yeah, sometimes, my life may revolve a little too much around the social media world.  It takes a good deal of time and energy . . . but it is worth it.  Whether we like it or not, the world is being transformed -both for good and bad - by interactions that take place through social networks.  Yes, face-to-face interactions are important and meaningful, but alone are no longer able to sustain movements of change and progress.  So if I hope to make any kind of impact in the world for good, I need to be fully engaged in the world of social networking.

  • Because it feeds me . . .  sure, there is a really enjoyable part of that strokes my rather healthy ego, but ultimately I enjoy the process.  Whether it is by crafting my 140 character tweet to lifting up the whimsical to instigating important conversations on race, faith, politics and life i am fed by the discipline of thinking, feeling and navigating my way through the entire process.  Selfish, sure, but there you have it, I love the journey.

  • Because I am grateful . . .  Yep . . . the GOD thing.  In every part of my life I try to live in response to God's presence in my life.  From the grand to the ordinary, I so believe that God is in my life that I MUST engage in the world in a way that responds in kind to the blessings in my life.  Every time I look into the eyes of my children, I am reminded that God deserves for me to keep trying to live in a way worthy of the awesome responsibility that my wife and I have been given to raise them.  If I choose to ignore the opportunities to seek, model and fight for justice, hope and love in the world I also choose to dismiss God's presence in my life.  I am simply not willig to make that choice.

So there you have it, why I stay engaged in the social networking fray.  Like any life endeavor there will be times when it does not feel like staying in it is worth the emotional, spiritual and physical energy, but as has been said to me over and over again, God never promises an easy journey, but God does promise to be there through it all.

So . . . why do you stay?

[Taken with permission from Bruce Reyes-Chow's blog . Follow Bruce on Twitter @breyeschow]

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