Social media…, Web 2.0, is far more interactive. A blogger says something in her post; I respond with a comment, someone else chimes in. I post a link to a website on my Facebook page; someone comments on it, and the conversation continues. Someone makes a video about how a church might be more welcoming; someone else makes another, and posts it as a video response on the original video’s YouTube page, and the comments weigh the pros and cons of each approach.
If the question facing us is only, “How does social media form a part of the marketing strategy of the church?” then the suspicion and concern with which it is clearly viewed by some is understandable. (Mostly this criticism is from those who are not themselves participants in that world, and it is unclear to me whether the lack of participation bred the suspicion or vice versa.) Social media is free flowing, radically democratic, unpredictable, impossible to control. In this sense, it is far more like the children’s talk than the sermon, more a conversation than a professorial lecture. More the realm of the Holy Spirit, one might say, than the purview of the levitical priesthood.
The social norms in our culture are known to most of the members of that culture. We don’t, for the most part, say hurtful or abusive things to one another. We respect one another’s points of view, even when we disagree. These norms, for the most part, also exist in the online world. Perhaps without the element of face-to-face connection, it is easier for some to breach those norms, but we all know of people who simply seem unable to cope with externally imposed norms regardless of context.