Another Confession: I’m A Networking Narcissist

Posted on July 28, 2010

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(photo by David Hayward)

I’ve kinda fallen off the twitter/blogging map for a while and I wanted to share a few thoughts about why… Just in case you were wondering.

A few months ago my agent and I had a really honest talk. She told me that connecting with people was a great thing, and networking was a must, but until a project is done it’s the biggest hindrance around. She then challenged me to write my manuscript in its entirety and to block out all distractions before I got back into the “www” saddle.

Reluctantly I’ve been following her advice. I haven’t even talked to her in over a month because there really isn’t a point until the book is finished. But as the weeks have passed, I’ve realized something odd… Social networking, as great a tool as it can be, is a very dangerous thing, and the potential for narcissism is huge. I would know… Until recently I was drowning in it!

I think one of the things that turns me off the most about the pseudo-Christian subculture that I’ve been paying a lot of attention to lately, is that they are all masters of social networking. It’s as if Twitter and Blogging has become their ticket to expanding the mega-church, evangelical mindset, and it’s really hard to see God behind their success.

Instead I see the same 5 or 6 pastors speaking at a plethora of evangelical conferences– they tweet and blog about it constantly, psyching themselves up like they are in Amway or something– that cost an arm and a leg, and seem to do very little by way of showing the average Christian how to be more like Jesus.

I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago and we were laughing at how we couldn’t stomach reading a newer Christian book because at the end of every chapter you are forced to read the same, self promoting list of ways to follow the author! “FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE WWW…” Or “Follow X on Twitter by…” Instead of allowing the words of the chapter to sink into the reader’s mind and heart, the author/christian publishing house had to over promote the author’s narcissistic networking ego in order to keep up with all of the other narcissistic Christian networkers.

I know this blog may put me in hot water with a few people, but I really don’t care. The number of people following me or you on twitter, Facebook, or a blog, means little to nothing in the eyes of the people who we should be reaching out to the most. And I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way!

How many impoverished people, living on the streets, or in 3rd world countries, are going to follow us online?

How many non-Christians are going to follow us in such an impersonal medium, and are going to engage our message?

How many people turned off by the church– whether that be atheists, or the LGBT community, or people from other faith traditions– are going to have their questions answered in 140 characters or less? Or in an impersonal, 3 paragraph blog?

The answer is not many.

[Granted there are exceptions to this as with anything else. The one that comes to mind is the late Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, who wrote thought-provoking articles on a regular basis. Or Andrew Marin, who happened to be a close friend of Michael Spencer, go figure. Both blog because they feel/felt called to engage people using the internet, but both don’t do it for numbers and don’t needlessly self promote.

I’m sure there are a few instances where people have stumbled across a blog or a tweet and been challenged by it. BUT in most of those situations I would give credit to the Holy Spirit for anything that happens in the heart of the reader.]

I’ve found that real relationships mean more than any blog or tweet. Relationships with the people the church won’t touch. I had a beer with a drag-queen the other night who poured out her entire life story to me with tears in her eyes. And I learned more by listening to her in that conversation than if I’d read a million tweets and blogs by the savviest pastors around. She opened my eyes to truths I’d never considered, and God used her in my life.

WE HAVE TO GET DOWN AND DIRTY IN RELATIONSHIPS IN ORDER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! IT’S THE ONLY METHOD JESUS USED!

The internet doesn’t count!

And I would bet anything that if Jesus was living his ministry today he wouldn’t be tweeting or blogging. He’d do it exactly as he did 2,000 years ago. With bloodied and blistered feet, on back roads from town to town.

All of this to say that it took me hitting 100,000 hits on my blog to realize that 100,000 hits means so very little in the vast scheme of things, i.e. while my book is unfinished, and much more importantly while 25,000 transients sleep tonight on the streets of Portland. While single mothers work three minimum wage jobs just to take care of their fatherless children. While 50,000 people die everyday in the US because of hunger. While the AIDS epidemic continues to spread. While people every day make the decision to leave the church because the church doesn’t so much resemble Jesus anymore because of its addiction to politics and matters of policing morality instead of taking care of those in need.

So please understand why I’ve been flying below the radar lately… I’m now happily a divine nobody, and care less and less daily about being “known” or selling a million books. I just want to be true to God and the beautiful people in my life that God has blessed me with.

I pray you all are doing well and are living your lives intentionally one way or another. Please continue to pray for me as I toil away on this project, and as God continues to show me how it is I’m supposed to demonstrate His son to the people in my sphere of existence.

Pax!

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