Posts Tagged ‘social media’

When Social Media, Politics and Morality Collide–What Do You Say?

June 14, 2011

To use a phrase a friend of mine used all the time in high school (and apologies to cat-lovers), “you can’t swing a dead cat without” hearing about the latest development in the Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal.

“I told you that social media stuff is the bane of our society”

“There isn’t a good politician out there–they are all corrupt”

You may not have heard these exact phrases but there are sentiments of each of them in every news story, blog post or twitter message being sent about this story.  On the DadPad, we typically discuss issues related to being a dad so why address THIS issue.  As I sat and thought about what’s happening and since I’m a social media consultant, there are a number of angles to write and comment about when it comes to these kind of stories.  But what do I do with them as a father?  Seems to me that these are GREAT places to engage in discussions about a lot of things with our kids, using age appropriate terms and detail.

So, is the real evil the social media tool?  Is Twitter to blame?  Church leadership has “banned” Facebook use for some of its leaders to remove the temptation for flirtation or more explicitly deviant uses.  I applaud men with weakness to “run” from the temptation in their lives, no matter the form or vehicle of delivery.  But, is the answer simply to blame the tool and pretend it doesn’t exist without regard to the user?  Here’s the truth..social media is here to stay.  We better learn how to use it for good and not just ignore it like it didn’t exist.

And, we certainly have heard about politicians who’ve abused their status and power for sex, money and position.  So, do we simply blame Anthony Weiner for being a politician as if had he been a plumber or accountant, this wouldn’t have happened?  The issue is much less about his role as a politician than that he is a human being.  This doesn’t excuse his behavior but, instead, lays the problem squarely on his shoulders as someone who made a very poor decision, or series of them.  Isn’t that usually the case with these situations?   The media and public sentiment can do all they can to find out the ramifications of being a politician and the temptations that they or athletes or actors face because of their position, but in the end, it’s all about poor judgement…poor choices.

The truth is that the heart of the problem always lies in one place…the heart of the man (or woman).  This is a great chance to discuss issues of morality with your kids.  We live in a culture that is constantly trying to place blame everywhere but where it belongs…with the person who committed the act of indecency, immorality or illegality.  Certainly access to tools that allow us as sinful men and women to more easily carry out inward thoughts and turn them into external actions have played a part in more widespread distasteful acts by humans at large.  But are the tools to BLAME?  Without going into a longer post about this, I can, with confidence state, “No”.  The problem isn’t the tool.  It’s the tool holder.  If I put a hole in the wrong wall with a hammer, is the hammer to blame?  Maybe I should have held the architectural drawings right-side up.  This is all good fodder for a discussion with your children–especially a generation that is growing up native to the use of texting, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of online networking.  And, they are growing continually wary of politicians, musicians, actors and athletes who abuse their position for personal gain, as if they were above the law.  But, is it their position that is to BLAME?  Again, I don’t think so.  Because of their notoriety, they are more subject to commit these acts than you or I might be.  Yet, if we simply place the blame on their fame, we completely miss the mark.

Ultimately, the discussion needs to rest on the truth that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Only God provides the ability for us to uphold an objective measure of morality.  We can place blame on tools, roles and circumstances, but ultimately decisions to act upon fleshly urges rests within the heart and soul of each one that has the urge…do I act on it or subject my thoughts and feelings to One who can help me overcome them and make wise decisions.

Don’t avoid the news, online technology or pursuit of careers because they are subject to being misused or abused.  Rather, lead discussions in your family about what taking personal ownership of decisions looks like.  Bring up why these kind of stories are thought of as   “newsworthy” (though we could discuss the over reporting of sensational stories for ratings, we won’t here :).  When you hear or see life happening around you and someone chooses poorly, don’t ignore or shut off immediately…engage and use them to point to right choices and right responses so that your children learn that they can live in the world but don’t have to succumb to its temptations.

How do you handle these stories in your home?

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Being a “Rad Dad”

August 9, 2010

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I remember the first time my kids got into “social media”.  My son asked about something called Xanga.  It was like My Space and Facebook before they became popular.  It was my first entry into this new thing called “social media”.  I didn’t have a clue what it was but it began a journey for me to investigate so that I could enter into meaningful discussions with them about if and how they could use or embrace these new apps.

One day, I sat down with my daughter to look at her iTunes list just to see what kind of music she was listening to.  The purpose of my questions were not just to “check up” on her but also to enter her world.  It’s a lot easier to have discussions about what your kids are doing, music tastes, social media involvement, etc., when you have a little understanding of what they like, don’t like, listen to, and update or read on the internet.  This concept extends to more than online or music camaraderie.

If I were to ask you the following questions over coffee at Starbucks or Caribou (my personal favorite), would you be able to answer them?

  • What kind of music do your kids listen to?  Who’s their favorite artist?
  • What sports do they LIKE to play (not which ten do you have them involved in)?
  • What’s their favorite color?
  • Which subject in school do they feel really excited about when they are in class and which ones make them feel inadequate or do they struggle in?
  • If they could travel to any country in the world, where would they go?  Why?
  • Who are their favorite friends?  Which friends show interest in them?
  • What’s their favorite food?  Do they like to try new foods?
  • When do they feel most loved?

There are hundreds of these seemingly innocuous questions you could think of that would be a great date night tool to help you get to know your kids and the world they live in.  There are a lot of traps out there that our kids can easily get lured into that could harm them.  But, if we don’t take the time to get to know them for who God made them to be, our concerns and admonitions often are heard as “blah blah blah”.  So, my encouragement to you, dad, is to be “rad”.  Get to know the things that are happening and even startle your child by asking them if they’ve heard the latest _________ (you fill in the musical group or artist) and use it as a time of bonding and learning.  They might even think it’s “cool (a 70’s term that is gonna make a comeback–just you wait) that you know an artist that THEY like.  Then, you have a platform of beginning to teach and enlighten them if they are involved in things that might be harmful or even dangerous.  Teaching times are born out of a life that is focused on the child first and then their actions.

Dad Idea:  Write down a list of questions (similar to the ones above) and have them with you as you spend some devoted time with your son or daughter (by the way, this is a great thing to do with an adult child too–the nature of your questions might change but never too late to invest your time and attention on them and their lives).