Social Networking is Changing the World

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

social networkingIf you’ve never used social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter you may wonder what the hubbub is all about.  Or perhaps you’ve started using one of these sites to stay connected with family and friends, play games, or watch videos and you think that’s they are kind of cool but not that big a deal.

But social networking is changing media.  Social networking is changing business.  And so social networking is changing the world.

There were several examples of that just in the past week which I think we can learn from as we adapt to this changing world.

The Good

First, you’ve got Susan Boyle’s stunning performance on Britain’s Got Talent.  Had you ever seen the show before last week?  Ever even heard of it?  I had a vague awareness that there were American Idol-like shows across the pond, but that’s about it.  Now more than 100 million have seen Susan Boyle and Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube.

Perhaps you can dismiss that as just entertainment.  She got her 15 minutes of fame and next week it will be someone else.

The Bad

This morning I saw this report of 3 stories where bad press went viral on Twitter.

Someone posted a video on YouTube showing two Dominos Pizza employees laughing as they prepared food in an unsanitary manner.  That video exploded on YouTube and Twitter and Dominos had a PR nightmare on their hands.  Dominos countered with their own YouTube video and Twittering.

Then some folks found that numerous gay and lesbian themed books began to disappear from Amazon.com.  That story spread via Twitter while Amazon did little to address it.  Amazon is still feeling the heat from that.

Adjusting the Way We Communicate

The point is that social networking allows information to spread faster than ever before.  It’s a great opportunity we should try to use to further our causes.  But when bad things happen (and they do to every organization), we can’t just hunker down, keep quiet, and hope things will blow over.  When negative things happen its more important than ever to “get out in front” with fast, honest communication.

What do you think?  Has social networking changed your world?  Has it changed the way your organization communicates?  The way you respond to criticism?

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.


  • Just a side note, Britain’s Got Talent has been around for a while and even spawned America Got Talent show and American Idol is a remake of a Britain Singing Show. We actually get a lot of our reality shows from Britain even, The Office.

    We need to look just in the Bible to realize Jesus spent time with so called bad people. The sick need a doctor not the healthy. We should use Social Network sites as bad as they could be, as a light for people to see Jesus and the Love of God.

  • Social networking is affecting family life and overall communication skills between people. I have seen this in my work as a psychotherapist. Many young couples are getting more involved in their virtual worlds and are paying less attention to their real world. The person next to them is not seen or communicated with as much as the person half a world away. If there were communication problems to begin with, having online friends does not help, in fact it exacerbates the problem by reducing the desire for that person to develop real relationships that would challenge and grow them as individuals. After all, the online community is anonymous and superficial. If you don’t like a person you can delete them, or block them with little consequence. Having numerous friends in the online world is not about your social skills, but more about the amount of time you are willing to spend online and ignore the people closest to you. It is not very challenging. You can also create a personality that is more a reflection of your fantasy than your reality and no one will challenge it, but will respond to it as if it is a reality. This being said it does have the ability to connect you with people of like minds and interest who may not necessarily be next door. This is helpful as in the case of online support groups and networks. This however should be approached with caution because there is no way to check the truth of the communications received from online friends and followers. Also services such as online therapy are helpful to some who have not the means to travel for therapy, or they desire the anonymity of the online world when talking about their problems. So yes there are good and bad points to social networking sites and the technologies that spawn them. As Christians our challenge is to take what some may mean for evil and be change agents to use it for our good and God’s glory.

  • I differ in some of the thinking of your post Allison. Studies have shown just because a student spends their free time online all the time they are not any less social. Studies also show, Bullies online are the same Bullies offline. The acts of Bullies are the same as before, but now are known to many and shown to the public a lot more.

    Parents need to be in charge at home to see what social networks their children are on and Adults need to be responsible about anything that may conflict with their relationship with God.

    Students are experiencing the World as a whole and globalizing with students around the world to learn something new.

    Lastly many of the relationships online, real or fake as it may be are real. A. R. Horvath at Sntjohnny.com has built many relationships with many believers and non from the globe. His mission is to minster to them and to help them see the Light. Even if a person is misrepresenting themselves they are receiving the word of God.

  • Daniel you make some interesting observations, however my comments were not specifically about students. I was commenting based on my observations working with young couples who were involved in real world relationship but were using virtual relationships as a means of disconnecting from the challenges of their real relationship. If this did not come across well in that short blurb then I erred.

    I don’t disagree with your comments as it relates to parents taking charge and monitoring their children’s internet activity, I myself do this and feel it is a good way to protect them.

    I do not support a mentality that says “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I stand by my observations however and belief that as Christians we are to be aware of the bad that we are subject to with this brave new technology, even as we creatively seek to use it to promote good and give God Glory. I have been able to provide online counseling using this technology, and appreciate (A. R. Horvath?) or anyone who is able to minister and develop relationships with people that will bring them closer to God. My statement that, “After all, the online community is anonymous and superficial.” is true for the most part. This doesn’t mean that there cannot be exceptions where some brave folks present themselves with honesty and are fortunate enough to connect with another honest person. They are truly blessed; however, it would be foolish not to caution people about the potential for dishonest communication. If social networking is used in evangelism, then there is the element of the Holy Spirit that ministers in truth and honesty regardless of the person’s presentation. As I said before my comment dealt with couples, not students nor evangelism. I hope this clears up the matter.

  • Daniel and Allison, good conversation. I suspect that social networking probably amplifies where we are emotionally and relationally. If somebody is withdrawn from the “real world” it gives them a place to hide and develop relationships that are phony or even harmful. If someone is engaged in the real world, it provides additional opportunities to connect with their real world friends.

  • […] Item two.  When I started blogging two years ago, I was probably got in at the peak of blogging as a cultural phenomenon.  There are still more than 6 million of us out here but for many blogging was so “a while ago”.  I am thinking about finally going to the next step of getting a MySpace or Facebook page, before it is over.  Do you Twitter?  YouTube?  Yammer? Social networking is not just a fad, or a trend it is the way it gets done today.  My friend Cody, who is a former world champion bull rider and a man who wants to impact the young bull riding generation with the gospel (and one of the most faithful friends I have ever had) followed his kids into social networking and in a few days had a following numbering almost 1000 “friends”.  Cody can now speak into all these young people in ways that were not possible not long ago.  If you are interested in reading more on this subject try HERE.  Social networking is not changing our world it already has! […]

  • […] » Social Networking is Changing the World blog.ourchurch.com/2009/04/23/social-networking-is-changing-the-world – view page – cached But social networking is changing media. Social networking is changing business. And so social networking is changing the world. There were several examples of that just in the past week which I think we can learn from., But social networking is changing media. Social networking is changing business. And so social networking is changing the world. There were several examples of that just in the past week which I think we can learn from. — From the page […]

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