“Online communities are valuable. They can be reached more quickly and leveraged more effectively, and the right kind of trust agent can work with those communities to effect actionable change.”
As people who follow Jesus, this principle that Brogan and Smith identify is important for us. To bring about the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven” takes servant-leaders (trust agents) who can help initiate “actionable change” in our world, and the good news is that social media provides a new and wonderful avenue for doing that.
The authors teach us about leverage – “using the advantage you have in one place to help you in another,” and arbitrage – “using something that is less valuable to one person and benefiting from its greater value to someone else.”
To Brogan and Smith, meeting a lot of people online, even superficially, is important. Taking the friendship to the next level by having a face-to-face meeting can cement those relationships and gives yourself an advantage. While I understand the idea here, using this language as it relates to following and serving Jesus makes me uneasy. That may be because I am more introverted. Later they clarify that trust agents don’t use people for their own purposes. It is important to carefully distinguish between using and knowing people.
Trust agents must learn to leverage time so that real relationships can be built with the many, many internet friends we may have. I would love to hear how others of you manage your time on social networks. I have a tendency to spend too much time on this area of my life. I don’t think I am alone in that.
3 simple ways that I attempt to build relationships with people using social media:
- Become friends with the friends of my friends
- Comments (blogs and Facebook) and replies (Twitter)
- Facebook birthday calendar and the new “reconnect with” feature (Facebook attempts to remind me of people I haven’t connected with in a while by telling me so in the right side of the news feed)
- How have you seen social media used for something good?
- How do you handle the tension when it comes getting more “friends” or “followers” so that you can accomplish your purposes, even if they are good purposes? Is it “right” to rack up as many friends as possible so that you can then attempt to influence them to consider your ministry or cause?
- How does introversion/extraversion effect one’s interaction through social media?
- What are some practical ways that you build relationships through social media?
Everett Bracken is the former director of the CIA, and currently serves as President Obama’s personal spiritual advisor. When he is not doing that he directs the Parkview Christian Learning Center in Lilburn, GA where he lives with his wife and 2 kids. He blogs at www.everettbracken.com