April 26, 2018

Community and social media

I finally decided I would get back and connect with all of my readers on this blog. After a long struggle with caregiving for my mom, she is now in a nursing home, so others can care for her, and selling our house, and finally helping with wheat harvest this year, we are now in Branson, for a couple of weeks of vacation. Earlier this week, Marcia and I signed up to help churches with their growth and outreach ministries. We get training this September in St. Louis. Its part of the outreach ministry of our church’s synod, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. So, I got to thinking about why churches are struggling so much in today’s society with reaching out to new members and even maintaining their membership. Certainly the current political and social environment in the United States is undermining, perhaps destroying, many of the foundations of the church. We read almost daily where Christians are forbidden to share their faith in a variety of settings. This last week, the National Guard was forbidden to visit a Christian Vacation Bible School, yet they could attend a gay march in Washington. So, I did a google search on Christians and social media. I found this article below, published last year by Charismanews.com


Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Some points to consider

  • Yes, we all need to belong. I had an interesting conversation with a woman camping next door to us. She said that she had been searching all her life for a church that welcomed and ministered to the needs of someone who had suffered physical and mental abuse as a child. All the churches she approached couldn’t give her the kind of community she desired. She was in this Missouri area looking for a new type of ministry that could make her feel she belonged.
  • So, is facebook a real community or just a fake one. It certainly allows a person to connect with others are some level, but the author makes a good point that it normally doesn’t create long term meaningful relationships on the whole.
  • The author suggests small groups are the answer for Christians to create real community. Having been a member of several small groups in the past, I would agree. But now that Marcia and I are mobile, ie, on the road much of the time, participating in a small group is difficult. Also people’s business and other commitments make it difficult to participate in small groups. Also most churches can’t get a strong small group program up and running. Not sure why, but at least in the current format, it appears to me small groups are not a very effective tool in most churches, particularly small churches. So what is the answer to real community?
  • So, is dialog e-journaling as presented in this blog an answer?
  • How could it be used in a church setting? Or should it?

Something for me to explore in future posts. Please give me your input.

Article from Chrismanews below…………………………………………………………………….

How Should Christians Use Social Media?

Have you learned how to use social media, and to control that use? We all need to belong. From tweeting your latest accomplishment on Twitter to the local library’s book clubs, everyone wants to belong to something, somewhere.

We believe it will bring value to our lives and enrich it in such a way to make us better people. We learn this from the time we are young children, hanging onto the schoolyard fence in the hopes that maybe that popular group of people will look our way and invite us to join their intimate clique. We transform our inner and outward appearance so the people who are most worth our time deem us a valuable part of their community.

Then we become adults. We throw off the chains of high school life just to cross the threshold of adulthood. We believe now we can become the real us, and we won’t have to fake who we are in order to impress others around us.

Wrong. Adulthood forces us to address deeper questions regarding our identity:

What if I never become a successful person in society? What if I never get married? Is this all there is to life? What’s my purpose in life?

We all need (and want) to belong. It’s in our DNA. We can fool ourselves into thinking we can journey through life on our own. With the development and proliferation of technology, it’s possible to meet most basic needs right from the comfort of our own home.

However, the hole within our hearts goes much deeper than our basic needs. It is buried deep within us and lies at the very fiber of our being. Our need for human connection and contact can never be met in a solo effort. Our validation comes from others, and no matter how deep we try to bury it and strive to fill it with material possessions, wealth, and intelligence, the hole never completely fills.

So, we keep searching.

We search for that group of people who will encourage us in our journey through life. We want them to believe in us, accept us for who we are, and, in essence, validate us as human beings.

The Creation of the Pseudo Community

Facebook entered the cyber world as a college site in which students could connect with each other from various dorms, fraternities and sororities, and campuses. Quick on the heels of MySpace, it attracted the attention of the public with its private settings and simpler page design.

When Facebook became open to the general public in the middle of 2007, hundreds of thousands joined in the hopes of networking. It became a new way to connect. It became a pseudo-community, where people could become anyone they wanted to be, all within the safety and comfort of their living room couches. Facebook became the conduit to link people to their past—that person with whom they’d lost connection—and connected them to the people they are in the present.

Social media redefined what it meant to communicate. Soon it replaced phone calls and even e-mails. People were relaying their most private and important information in semi-public status updates on Facebook.

However, Facebook does much more than serve as a conduit for connection. It challenges the very nature of authenticity and identity. With the push of a button, I can transform myself into whoever I want to be. I can add or delete facts about myself, post inspirational quotes to my wall and collect friends like I collect postage stamps. I can transform myself into the very person I wished I were back in high school.

An article in The Atlantic called “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” analyzes the notion that Facebook is increasing isolation and loneliness among users. Author Stephen Marche first explains the difference between being alone and loneliness. Many single people can experience contentment with their current life circumstances, yet people with families can feel alone.

In fact, Marche says Carnegie Mellon conducted a study in the late 1990s that showed Internet users already demonstrated increased loneliness. What separates these two ideas, according to Marche, is the quality of the interactions in one’s life. In other words, one can have many people one considers friends, but not have any confidants with which one can discuss deep personal matters. Facebook allows people to connect with friends, but users still lack the meaningful bond that results from intimate conversation and contact.

The article also reports Facebook creates an increased need for self-promotion and narcissism, and that those who post status updates, collect friends, and chat with friends actually report being less lonely. John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness, does not believe Facebook creates loneliness, but it can perpetuate it if abused.

“Facebook can be terrific, if we use it properly,” he wrote. “It’s like a car. You can drive it to pick up your friends. Or you can drive it alone. … How we use these technologies can lead to more integration, rather than more isolation.”

Marche concludes that Facebook itself doesn’t create loneliness; lonely users only use it as tool to connect with friends. Yet it does not create long-lasting connections as a whole. Marche said, “What Facebook has revealed about human nature – and this is not a minor revelation—is that connection is not the same as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better, or a more liberated version of humanity.”

Make no mistake. I am not advocating you don’t use Facebook. In fact, I believe it can be used as an invaluable resource to connect to people and things unattainable just a few short years ago.

However, we need group interaction now more than ever. One can enjoy a valuable (and therefore valued) life if one decides to make a difference in society. One cannot achieve this without interacting with others.

This is where the church comes in.

The more people engage in the pseudo community, the more isolated they feel. Their longing for authentic, personal connection increases. Small groups provide the gateway to meet that need for connection and community. A small group setting provides the intimate atmosphere in which people can express prayer requests and develop deep, long-lasting relationships with other believers. This is the prime environment for discipleship to take place.

As Christians, we need to use social media as a conduit for initial connection with both Christians and Non-Christians. Because social media may connect people to you, but that interaction might ultimately connect them to Christ.

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Upcoming Journaling Events/Resources

If you haven’t checked out journaltalk, go to write4life.us by Nathan Ohren


Hannah Braime will be presenting with Lynda Monk and Nathan Ohren at the 2nd Annual Journaling Expo on January 12th at 10:00 AM (Pacific Time Zone). Come register for this free event here.

For more info on Hannah’s website and books and courses see below

Journaling with Heart is a new course from Becoming Who You Are that teaches you how to use journaling to deepen your self-knowledge and self-connection. Join us from January 20th and make 2014 the year you develop a kind and supportive relationship with yourself. Click here for more info and to register.”

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Reflection, what do we do with our journal entries after you write them?

In the book Expressive Writing, edited by Kathleen Adams, she discusses how to use a “reflection write” principle for your journal entries.

English: Upper Yosemite fall with reflection

English: Upper Yosemite fall with reflection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In her therapy practice, Kathleen uses a technique she calls “reflection”  which is used after her patients journal about a particular problem they are facing. Her instructions for “reflection” are: “reread what you have written, and pay attention to what you notice, or what surprises you, stands out for you, suddenly makes sense, or is something you didn’t know you knew.” Then write about the reflection.

She goes on to emphasize the great value of the “reflection write.” She stated that “the insight, awareness and cognitive shift from the (journal) write itself are amplified, multiplied, synthesized and codified in the reflection write.

So, when you journal, either privately or in dialogue with your journaling partner, consider using a reflection write to enhance your total experience.




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Private vs. Dialog Journaling

Should your journaling be private (for your eye only) or shared with another trusted friend or reader (dialog)? How does the feedback loop  work in either case?…


Feedback loop

Feedback loop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I have struggled with the reasons for keeping your journal private vs. sharing with someone who will keep your confidence and give you feedback. I much prefer to do my journaling in a dialog fashion so as to get the feedback from the reader. I am reading a new book “Expressive Writing” edited by Kathleen Adams. This is what one of the book’s authors says about private vs. public journaling.


“What is absolutely essential to me (and I believe, to most journal writers) is that my journal is private………If I think someone will find what I write and read it, they become an intuited audience and constrain my expression…… With this understanding (of privacy) comes a kind of freedom that is both liberating and essential to expression itself. I can write whatever I like just to see what’s on my mind.”


I agree with the author that private journaling certainly can result in a more unrestrained writing. For some, maybe most, journalers, this will provide a very meaningful journaling experience. However, feedback is limited to only the reader going back and trying to make sense of what he/she is written.


A great benefit of “dialog journaling is the feedback the journaler gets from the dialog partner. So, how do you maximize the feedback from private journaling?

One idea the author has is “Later (after the private writing), when mining my journal for bits useful to others, I might reshape the material for a public audience of readers…….”

So, following up private journaling with repurposing some of the content for an audience might give you the best of both worlds, public and dialog. More on this on a followup post on reflection.

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Emotional Balance

Well, its been quite awhile since I posted,  so I apologize for not being more regular with this blog. Its been a busy time this summer as caregiver for my 92 year old mom, helping out with the family farm, etc. As I write this from the ICU here in Wichita, Ks, where mom is recovering from heart surgery, hopefully I can get back to a better balance with my life….

Balancing Act

Balancing Act (Photo credit: Digitalnative)

I am enrolled in a course offered through the Institute for Journal Writers (IAJW) which I belong to, called the “emotional balance clinic”. When I enrolled, I didn’t know I would be here dealing with all the emotinal issues of mom’s near death experiences, so perhaps this clinic will be helpful. The last few days, I have been working my way through Beth Jacob’s book “Writing for Emotional Balance”. She notes that “journals can be effective tools for emotional management” and “can clarify, release, organize and sooth your feelings.” The book is really a workbook with lots of exercises where you can work your way through various tools for emotional balance. My tendency is to bury my emotions, so hopefully the clinic and the book will help me force my emotions to the surface, so I can articulate my feelings better. So, look for additional posts for my progress towards improved emotional balance.

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Do you journal to self or to serve?

In my study class on Wednesday, we talked about serving others. The concept discussed was that from a Christian perspective, at least, the call to serving others is not just a mystery of faith, but a concrete reality defined by our specific gifts and circumstances. Calls do change people, they are given to us to crucify our sinful egoism.

Quotes - "Life Lived For Others"

Quotes – “Life Lived For Others” (Photo credit: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC))

So, when you Journal, do you do it just for your self, for no. 1, or do you also consider it as an act of service, to touch other’s lives, to reach out to establish a relationship with someone. The concept of “dialog e-journaling” is meant to create some fun, friendship and fulfillment from your life. So, by serving others with dialog in your e-journaling, you will most certainly serve others, establish a closer friendship, and experience a sense of fulfillment by honoring God’s calling to serve in your vocation and in life in general.

So, as you journal today, is it only all about me, or do you want to connect with others?


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Where do you spend your time online? Are you addicted?

On foxnews.com I ran across a study conducted by Experian has revealed that Americans spend the more time on social media sites than any other country, a full 16 minutes for each hour they are on-line. The report quotes Ari Zoldan, president and CEO of Quantum Media Holdings,  who says the numbers aren’t shocking, citing mobile usage taking social media addiction to the next level.

Facebook Addiction Statistics watermarked

Facebook Addiction Statistics  (Photo credit: Life Mental Health)

“It’s a total time zap. If you think about it, we don’t go anywhere
without our mobile phones, we’re always connected with social media,”
Zoldan says. And apparently talking about ourselves and living in infamy on social
media is more interesting to users than news and even celebrities. The
survey found Americans are also spending more time on these sites than
they do on entertainment sites (nine minutes an online hour), online
shopping (five minutes an online hour) and porn (three minutes an online
hour). “Social media has brought us even more into the ‘Me’ generation,”
Zoldan says. “We are totally ego-centric. Do people really care that I
just checked into some museum?… I have people taking photos of their
steak dinners. Who cares? It’s all me, me, me.”

In my previous post “The Power of Two”, I talked about how working with a Buddy Coach through Dialogue E-Journaling would allow you to “serve” each other through accountability, encouragement and support. This is quite a contrast to the “me,me, me obsession the survey above indicated. So, how will you spend your time on-line. Will it be taking photos of what you had for lunch, or will it be to begin a dialogue with a few good friends, for fun, friendship and fulfillment? So examine why you spend 16 minutes of each hour on social media? Is it truly pleasurable, meaningful, or would your time be better spent reaching out to connect with some real friends?
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The power of two-A call to service

I ran across this passage from Ecclesiastes 4 today: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend will help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, the will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken.”


two heads are better than one

two heads are better than one (Photo credit: massdistraction)


The verse talks about principles of how we are to relate to each other. What has happened to our relationships in the fast-paced life that we live in? In previous generations, we learned our life work or craft from someone who had the necessary knowledge and then passed it on to us. It was common to have mentors as we were taught valuable skills. I grew up on a farm, and I worked along side my father, learning how to drive a tractor, repair machinery, tend to the crops, etc. In today’s environment, most parents work outside of the home, and this important tradition of mentoring has mostly been forgotten. Instead society tells us we must operate on our own, to do our own thing. Unfortionately this practice leaves us with little provision for learning the skills that were once passed on for generations before us. As a result we have lost the unique empowerment that can be received when we work alongside someone else.


Also, tonight I attended my bible study on Christian vocation. Our modern “society” tells us to pander to our feelings, wants, get “stuff, do whatever makes us feel good. The result is a total society with extreme selfishness, and just looking out for No 1. This isn’t a healthy way of living, and certainly is not what God has planned for us. Rather we are given natural and spiritual gifts by God that are to be used to serve our neighbor, attend to his or her physical and spiritual needs. The Bible instructs us “to love our neighbor as ourself”.



So what does this have to do with dialogue E-journaling? It means that to survive and to thrive on this earth, we need healthy relationships with others, in particularly 2 or 3 people who have our back, as the Ecclesiastes passage states. No one achieves any kind of success in any area of life ALONE. Every successful and happy person has sought the advice and encouragement of others. Modern society has lied to us, that we are to only look out for No. 1. It won’t work going it alone, never has, never will.


So, as you consider selecting your “buddy coach”, someone who will encourage you, comfort you, listen to you, yes, even serve you, think of developing a different kind of friendship. Consider a friendship based on service to the other, not for what you can get out of him/her, but how you can serve them. You will be amazed that as you serve them, the joy and satisfaction that will come back to you.



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How do I find a Dialogue E-journaling Partner?

In the previous post I described a new kind of friend as being similiar to a “buddy coach” as described by Amanda Rankin in her book. So, how do you go about finding such a person?


“YOU GOTTA GROW BUDDY” – NARA – 516225 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the dialogue e-journaling process depends on the use of the internet, this person would need to be one that is connected and actively utilizes emails, texting, smartphone apps, etc. Almost all “boomers” are connected, so you should have a wide range of prospects to choose from. Some suggestions Amanda has on choosing a buddy coach in her book, “Buddy Coaching” include:

1. Try to choose a person who has a personality to compliment each other. You don’t need the same personality type, although Amanda does suggest taking a short personality profile, so you both understand your personality styles, so as to know how to interact with each other. The principle here is to take the partner’s personality into consideration and give them the kind of attention they need, not what you want.

2. If you want to interact, GROW, and assist each other, you might want to choose someone who is in a similiar stage of life, ie, perhaps a fellow “boomer”, or someone who is struggling with a common life issue, such as retirement, serious illness, etc. Also common interests would assist in relating to each other.

3. As a Christian, an important criteria for me is to find someone who I can exchange prayer requests with, and with whom I  can have spiritual discussions. So, if that is your desire, pray that God would direct you to the right person.

4. Consider who you would like to develop a stronger and deeper relationship with. Remember, you will be developing an accountability partnership with this person, so each of you will have to be willing to invest time and energy in the other.

So, in summary, think of a person you would want to “grow with”, to grow in fun, friendship and fulfillment.


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Are your friendships a dead end or would you like a new type of friend?

In this process of Dialogue E-Journaling, I envision a special new type of Friendship being created. Remember the purpose of Dialogue E-Journaling is to connect for fun, friendship and fulfillment.

Corner of Friendship Dr. and E. Winnemissett A...

Corner of Friendship Dr. and E. Winnemissett Av in Deland, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, lets look at what this new type of friend might look like. Most of our friendships (at least mine) are quite shallow, not deep or even on-going at all. LIke the graphic in this post, many appear to be a dead end or at least not worth putting in the effort to continue and improve. As I watch people interact on facebook, there appears to be some connection with people who comment on the various facebook entries, but I don’t see any kind of real meaningful dialogue developing. It seems, for the most part, just disconnected attempts to connect, when something “noteworthy” happens to be “on your mind.” For some facebookers, it doesn’t even have to noteworthy, but that’s another story.

Some time ago, I ran across this little workbook by Amanda Rankin entitled “The little workbook that could change your life-Buddy Coaching for Christians, a Revolutionary Plan to Set Goals and Achieve Them.” As a trained life coach, I was intrigued about this concept of “buddy coaching”. Would it be practical for essentially “untrained” people to coach each other, in a fun and effective way? I have concluded that it is indeed possible and practical to utilize this unique approach to friendship. So, as I continue this blog, I will list and define principles of how “life coaches” interact with their clients, principles that any one of you can utilize as you assist your friends in their life walk. And you don’t even have to pay the coaching fee.

Amanda defines a “buddy coach” as “a friend that you can team up with–an accountability parther. It’s someone who can be your coach, and you perhaps, can be their’s.” Amanda suggests buddy coaching be done over the phone or in person on a weekly basis. The concept in Dialogue E-journaling is to connect “electronically”, via email, etc. on a daily or several times a week basis. So, a more intense interaction of what’s happening in your life.

More on this concept in the next post. Happy Journaling.


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