If not much is said in Witness land against social media, nothing is said in support of it. So what little is said against is magnified. Intentionally or not? Who can say? Funny how some things can be said 100 times and it will barely be noticed; others just two or three times and it is magnified as though on one of Moses’ two tablets.
There is a KM that said, “It is not necessary for brothers to host their own websites.” I pondered that one and concluded, “Well, I never said mine was necessary. It’s just me pursuing a hobby.”
“Some indiscreet brothers” are setting up shop on the internet, another KM said. They are, I agreed, and I try not to be one of them—and wrote as much in Tom Irregardless and Me.
More recently was their counsel not to post copyrighted material on social media. A variety of scenarios was described, really everything except just plain linking to it.* So some take it a step further and figure you can’t link to it either, especially since linking software will often fetch a preview picture—even though the ‘Fair Use’ clause on copyright law has long recognized that issue and has imprecisely ruled on it.
The concern expressed was copyright and legal matters—items that do not apply to just plain linking. HQ originates the “spiritual food.” It makes sense to me that they should oversee its distribution. I already wasn’t doing any of the other bad things mentioned, things such as posting artwork and so forth. “That which is not expressly permitted is forbidden!” Vic Vomodog used to mutter. Alas, there do appear to be ones who look at the faith that way.
I like to think that Bethel itself in aggregate does not—‘in aggregate,’ because it is made of myriad individuals, some of whom may look at things that way. But one can entertain the view that the final output does not. Rather, they encounter problems when people speak in their name on social media, and so they say, ‘okay, don’t do it this way,’ and ‘don’t do it that way.’ They lay down bouys so one may regard them as such and chart a course through them. ‘Good counsel,’ I say. ‘I’ll make sure not to do that dumb thing.’
Thing is, there are indiscreet brothers. There are those short on proper presentation. I can easily picture Bethel, observing the cat fight that is religionists bickering over social media, saying ‘Oh, man—we want no part of that!’ It’s a point of view easily imagined. But there is omnipresent training to commit less faux pas in the in-person witnessing. Over time it takes hold, especially if one is not overly fussy in judging results. Could the same be done regarding mass media?
Set up a personal presence online that corresponds to your physical presence in your own neighborhood.
Chat on many topics, as you would in your physical neighborhood, and once in a while you get to bring God into the picture. Of course, in order to do this you must follow or friend or comment upon the contribution of those other than Witnesses. Those already leery of social media will not in the main go there.
Nah—no one thinks social media is the bee’s knees. Still, when companies have some fantastic product to advertise (and who has something more fantastic than kingdom good news?) the very first thing they do is to plan a campaign on social media to ‘advertise, advertise, advertise, the product and its maker.’
The shepherd is cautious by nature. It is suspicious of anything new, lest it be a ploy of the devil or a component of the fence that he owns. A friend of mine, 20 years older than myself, regarded skateboards as a sure sign of decadence when he first laid eyes on one. Nothing is new under the sun. They did it in the first century too. They called Peter into the back room:
“So when Peter came up to Jerusalem, the [supporters] of circumcision began to contend with him, saying he had gone into the house of men that were not circumcised and had eaten with them. At this Peter commenced and went on to explain the particulars . . . Now when they heard these things, they acquiesced . . .” (Acts 11: 2, 18)
Every once in a while—every exceedingly rare once in a while—the brothers acquiesce and say, ‘Oh. Well, I guess we can live with that. Maybe it’s even a good thing.’
*“These Terms clearly say that no one is allowed to ‘post artwork, electronic publications, trademarks, music, photos, videos, or articles from this website on the Internet (any website, file-sharing site, video-sharing site, or social network).’ Why are these rules necessary?”
Probably because miscreants come along, take the own material out of context, put it in a new malicious context, and beat them over the head with it.
****** The bookstore