Thursday, March 3, 2016

Social Media in a New Culture

One random cultural adjustment thing that I have found totally unexpected is that I am totally trying to figure out how to be a Christian on social media here.

You know how we each sort of find our place and personality in social media in our culture? And then it changes as social media changes and as we age? For instance, I talked politics on social media all the time in '08. Now I'm far more hesitant to post any political opinion on facebook because it's a bit taboo these days in my circles. Maybe you are that person that posts all kid pictures and stories, or maybe you post to vent, or maybe you post positive motivational stuff.

That last one? The positive motivational stuff? That is not me. I have used writing to process and think through things, and both my personality and my generation is a bit allergic to overly-positive quotes, out-of-context verses, and an over abundance of motivational or what I see as “cheesy spiritual” type of stuff. I'm from a cynical generation. I'm learning to be less cynical, but still. This is where I am coming from. In a pluralistic society I found it better to have my lifestyle speak my beliefs than to preach them in one-liners on social media. Only on the blog, where I can write in a bit longer of a format, am I more comfortable baring my heart on spiritual things.

Then I arrive here and this culture is SO DIFFERENT on social media. Motivational memes, motivational sayings with floral backgrounds, posting multiple Bible verses a day, sappy youtube videos, and posting 8 clearly-posed selfies at a time every day is not only normal, it is what is cool, and yes I am talking about adults.

My husband's good buddy switched to an iphone and he complained that the phone is flawed because the selfie camera is not great and that is one of the central features of a phone. Isaac told him he'd have to buy him a mirror to make sure he knows what he looks like, and the friend just died with laughter, totally recognizing and finding hilarious his culture's own selfie obsession.

So, here I have a dilemma. Although what is cool here is not cool in my generation in the US, it doesn't mean it's not heartfelt. This is a different culture, different things speak to people, different things hit home. How much do I learn to “speak the language”? How much would people here really relate to and appreciate me sharing small prayers and insights from throughout my day?


Rachel Hughes Shah said...

Huh - so thoughtful! And tricky, because your social media channels have multiple audiences on them. At first I thought "If it doesn't feel authentic to you would it really work/be sustainable?" and then I realised that that whole "feel authentic" thing is totally a value of our generation/culture and not an appropriate measure of "right-ness" in and of itself anyway! I do wonder, even if this culture, how much social media is to serve others and how much it is to serve me/ourselves - and which it should be if either? You're so thoughtful, keep us updated! Rach

CatharineKariana said...

I've had these exact same thoughts too. I like to think there's an unspoken thing between me and my Indonesian family and friends on social media where we acknowledge our differences but still "like" and comment on stuff to support each other in the things that we want to share online. I think we're all as baffled as each other about our social media habits. I'll never understand why my Indonesian friends want to post 5 selfies a day but likewise, they will probably never understand why I post pictures of trees and teacups and bits of light that I find really beautiful and interesting either.