The Demise of Social Media

Social media means a lot of things to a lot of people. What it means for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. However, I do think I have a decent grasp of how many view it though, so hopefully my thoughts are helpful in that way.

I have 3 examples that I’ve seen in the past few weeks that have me wondering what the real value of social media is. I’m beginning to wonder if it won’t get taken over by people who are just out to get numbers, not relationships, and out to promote themselves before engaging with others.

1. Follow Friday is a common Friday theme on Twitter where people recommend other people to follow. I saw this a few Friday’s ago on someone’s Twitter account (I’m not going to disclose whose Twitter account this is, that isn’t the point).

follow friday failTo me this is just pure manipulation. It is under the guise of “helping” other people get noticed, but really it is all about this person upping their numbers.

2. I was exploring some Twitter accounts of pastors that I follow that have a large following and I noticed something I find to be very troubling. A senior pastor who has a very large following on Twitter was following a majority of spam and porn accounts. Just look at the picture below, I see about 2 people who look to be real people and not just women who are showing off their stuff.

Picture 1

Since when was it “normal” to be a pastor and follow Twitter accounts like these? I know the reason is that the pastor auto-follows anyone who follows him in order to save time and get more followers…but this shouldn’t be an accepted practice. And right now it is, because I could name over 10 “big name” pastors who do the exact same thing.

3. Yesterday I had a conversation with a Portland-area person who labels himself on Twitter as a “teaching pastor and entrepreneur,” as well as a few other things. I noticed that his Twitter account had a very large following and that almost all of his tweets were information and that he rarely, if ever, responded to people he followed or people who @ replied to him (tried to start a conversation with him). We talked a little about this (picture below of what he said to me about this, conversation is his response to my questions, starts at the bottom of the picture):

2 things stick out to me here: “it is all about numbers for us” and “value comes next.” And believe me, not everyone would say it, but a good majority of people on Twitter and who blog think the exact same way. Instead of taking time to write meaningful and valuable content they would just rather rig some way to get more people to notice them.

I do think there is a place for self promotion in social media, but when it looks like this it makes me a little sick. Maybe my view of what social media is and should be is wrong, but self promotion (to me) only has a place in social media when it rooted in relationship building.

Social media, to me, has the highest value in these areas:

  1. Networking
  2. Building relationships
  3. Finding great content

What things like the above examples turn social media into:

  1. Manipulation
  2. Numbers driven
  3. Selfishness

Manipulation, numbers focus, and selfishness seem very contrary to the Gospel to me. To me this is sad to see coming from 3 men who call themselves Christian leaders.

What do these 3 situations and examples say to you about social media?

What is the demise of social media?

  • Jenni Clayville

    Wow, Ty… way to get people punching at you or for you. Anything with this much attention means it was a great post. It got us all thinking. Sorry you’re getting attacked… and sorry Adam’s getting attacked too.

    My two cents here? No one’s salvation was questioned. This is just good dialogue.

  • Sarah S.

    I am sorry if I have misunderstood. However, Adam’s intentions seemingly were questioned. (ie–his approach to the RT/#ff just to gain followers for the sake of #s) I wanted to make it clear Adam is not in it for the #s. He is in it for the people and impacting the world for Christ, not for glory and not for fame. That is all. God bless both you and Adam as you make a difference in this world for the One that matters most.

    • Jenni Clayville

      sarah, it’s good to hear from someone who knows adam IRL about what he’s really living for. that’s encouraging.

      to be fair… tyler didn’t name who’s tweet that was. he kept it anonymous. adam was “outted” by a friend. i don’t think ty was accusing of adam of anything… just questioning the motive behind that “kind” of tweet.

      i think it’s a good reminder for all of us to be more questioning in our thoughts. we all tend to be a bit more like “sheep” than anything. i’m totally talking about myself here as well.

      • Sarah S.

        Thank you Jenni for being so gracious and catching me up to speed. 🙂

  • @branford

    to me, the names and specifics don’t matter (as far as it pertains to this discussion)
    what matters is that EGO is a huge issue for people (including pastors) IRL.
    (Matt hit the nail on the head)
    i know plenty of pastors IRL that are consumed by EGO and are always trying to keep up with the joneses in terms of popularity/tech/control-of-their-public-image/whatever.
    a little ethical tidying up couldn’t hurt… twitter is a good place to start.

  • John W Snyder

    The great thing about social media, twitter, facebook, etc… Is that you can follow and unfollow whoever you want. I personally don’t autofollow nor do I ask people to RT my stuff. If it’s good enough to be ReTweeted it will be. Be who you are in real life on Twitter. I think we all have our own ideas about how social media should be done and that’s what makes it so great. The bummer when it come to web 2.0 and social media is that you can’t even give your own opinion without getting attacked for it. Whether it’s politics, religion, sports or whatever someones going to disagree with you. Do you and who cares what other people think. If asking for RTs is your thing then great. If autofollowing is, then great. But what I would say is be human and stay true to yourself.

  • David Meysembourg

    Tyler – great stuff!

    • Tyler

      Probably my favorite comment so far 🙂

      • Joshua

        No… this will be your favorite comment so far…

        GO TIGERS.

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  • Yonas

    I’m really happy for you and I’mana let you finish…but Beyonce or Ash have the best blogs of our time!!!

  • Kyle Reed

    Love the conversation that a single blog post can bring about.
    The beauty of community…conversation

  • brent(inWorship)

    I am way late to this game! I have no idea how I am going to get through all 88 comments, so I’ll just pipe in…without reading them 🙂

    I think that there are zero rules to social media and there should never be rules. I think we need to use it and control it as we see fit for our needs. If someone wants to self promote and never converse, so be it. But, I won’t be following them, cause I want interaction. If someone wants to do nothing but create noise. So be it, but I probably won’t folow them, unless I feel a part of the conversation.

    These 3 things are right on!

    Building relationships
    Finding great content

    I agree, that this is what is most valuable for me in the social media world. And yet, I may use Twitter to be my personal IM for the evening. My take on it, is that it will be used to get whatever we want out of it. I am no less selfish when I determine what I want from social media, than the next guy. I just see what I want (similar to your 3 things) as more valuable , than just talking about myself or marketing a product.

    The numbers thing will always be of value. Bigger numbers = more people listening. Now, if I don’t have anything of value to say, than my numbers may never grow. Of course, as you have pointed out, many people play the numbers game on Twitter to gain more followers. but you can’t do that anywhere else (Facebook, Myspace, Blog). Either you have value or you don’t. So Twitter is unique in that respect.

    So, all that to say, again, social media has no rules, and should never have rules. Make it what you want. Cater it to your needs. USe it however you feel fit. But, the reaction to it’s usage will differ, based on true value.

    • @branford

      absolutely right.
      but i think the article is asking is it OK for a “christian leader” to say or imply that they’re using SM to “help” their followers, when it’s (arguably) obvious that they’re pimping their accounts for the sake of numbers/popularity.
      this post doesn’t seem to be just about SM rules, but about Christian leadership ethics, and honesty (and maturity?), no?

      • brent(inWorship)

        That is one point in the post, but hardly what the post is about. While playing the numbers game, some christian leaders seem to be pimping themselves and putting themselves into situations that are inappropriate…like following porn bots.

        I agree with Tyler on that. but this post is about social media going downhill in his perspective and being used for selfish gain. It’s not just about christian leaders…

        • @branford

          again, i agree with you.
          but Tyler (who i don’t know besides on twitter) is NOT playing Twitter Police or trying to lay down SM rules that everyone MUST follow.

          hmmmm, let’s see, all 3 examples are pastors.
          and the closing argument:
          “Manipulation, numbers focus, and selfishness seem VERY CONTRARY TO THE GOSPEL to me. To me this is sad to see coming from 3 men WHO CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIAN LEADERS.” (emphasis mine)

          This is not a twitter police post. This is about people who claim to want to use Twitter to “help” people.

  • brent(inWorship)


    So, maybe I am just confused here…but in both responses to me you said “i agree”. But then you seem to go on and disagree.

    Could you clarify what you are trying to say…

    • @branford

      i agree with you that there shouldn’t be rules to social media.
      i don’t agree that Tyler’s trying to lay down social media rules for these 3 pastors.
      i also disagree with this statement: “That is one point in the post, but hardly what the post is about” – i believe that this post is about pastors who say one thing but act in a contradictory way. namely, “i want to help people using SM” when SOME of the actions are obviously about followers/numbers.

      but it’s not a big deal. everyone is going to get something different out of the original post.

      I just felt like your reponse was “don’t be the twitter police – they can do whatever they want in twitterland”
      My response to the post: christian leaders should act in a Godly way and imitate Jesus, even in twitterland.

      sorry if i assumed too much in your response. i wasn’t intending to be argumentative.

      • brent(inWorship)

        I appreciate your response and I would say…Yes, you assumed WAY too much in my response. I think Pastors and Christian leaders need to hold themselves to a higher standard and these examples that Tyler gave are good examples of the need for concern.

        When it comes to general use and the general public in social media (which I believe this post’s intent is about), there are no rules…make it what you want.

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  • karen

    I just had this conversation earlier this week with an agent. “I am never going to be that writer who sits at the computer and asks ‘What can I write so that it will sell better?’ I write about what interests me, about the things I care about.
    I am more media savvy than my 4 20-something kids, none of whom are even are on Twitter. It freaks them out sometimes that their mama is. I didn’t start blogging in 2004 so that I could “increase my territory.” I did it because with four kids all living off from home it was the easiest way to let them know where I was and what I was doing as I toured my books. It just so happens that it was a good way to connect with Vietnam veterans and Gold Star Families and others in the Faith community, many of whom became dear friends because of social media.
    It can have a powerful impact. And yes, of course, you can reach millions, if that’s your desire. But we should never, ever dismiss the power of just connecting to one other person. That’s where intimacy begins.
    Good post, T.

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  • Yonas



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  • Kathleen McDade

    Oh, my.

    First of all, I think all of the people in the discussion are sincere in their spiritual and social media beliefs. I don’t question that.

    However. I’m a fairly heavy social media user, in spiritual and secular (if you separate the two) arenas. And I know a lot of other social media users AND experts (the good ones, not the kind that spam you or advocate spammy practices). And what Tyler said in his post aligns with the best practices espoused by these people. I don’t think it has anything to do with calling out and criticizing specific people, or trying to get them to change their ways.

    People in social media post this type of post to teach others about the dos/do-nots of social media. I don’t know if that was Tyler’s intent, but that’s my perception of the post.

    It’s true that if I don’t like the “please RT to get on my #followfriday list” or any other practice, I don’t have to follow that person. That’s one of the things I really like about Twitter! Does that mean I shouldn’t express my opinion about that practice? I don’t think it does. And if you don’t like my opinion, you don’t have to follow me, either.

    Finally, this was the saddest thing I saw in the post: “But it is about the numbers for us (more subscribers, attendees, eyeballs, etc. = more revenue). Value comes next.” That’s not only bad social media practice, it’s bad Christian practice. Making disciples is not about the numbers. It’s about relationships.

  • Jim

    Ah…Tyler-son…now Commenting Ninja know why you take 24 hour anti-social break!


    Interesting post. I often wonder if the only people who are actually engaged in the online conversation are those of us in advertising and PR. Are we just talking at each other?

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