Action Plan: Put on the Armor

take actionChurch is a big part of my life. I lead a life group for young (and youngish) adults. I go to church every week. I am on the media team. I hear sermons. I ask questions. I answer questions. Every week I am challenged with one or two things that I realize I need to work on personally. I leave these times of spiritual encouragement refreshed and determined to do better.

But I rarely make any actual changes to my life, mindset, or faith before the next Sunday.

I’m not down on myself or confessing some deep secret, that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it always has been and I’m guessing that’s the way it is for most Christians. I know the truth and I care enough about it to learn more; I’m just not really great doing anything about it. This is not an issue of “hearing and not doing” it’s more of a settling for where I am without striving to get better.

When my wife and I started hosting a Bible study in our home for our life group every week, one of my goals was to do something that would cause ME to want to improve my spiritual walk every week. With the help of the D6 Curriculum from Randall House (that’s a shameless plug because I really believe in what they’re doing), I am now attempting to make a specific action plan each week for myself while presenting the opportunity for others to do so as well. It is usually as simple as making sure I notice when I am tempted to do certain negative actions and having a specific, pre-planned response. Some week it involves setting a specific time to engage in some positive action or thought process. Sometimes my plan has to be more involved because the topic, like this week’s theme of putting on the armor of God, is such a core part of the Christian life that I needed to outline 11 individual actions to accomplish six specific goals:


Action plan to “put on the armor of God”

Purpose: Our spiritual protection against evil doesn’t just happen, it must be intentionally worn so that I can resist and stand firm.

1. Belt of Truth

God’s eternal, absolute truth is the centerpiece of my armor. Every other defense is held together by his unchanging Word.

Suiting Up: I will start each day this week by considering God’s plan for humanity and my life:

  • God created me in His image
  • I chose to sin and separate myself from God
  • Jesus died to restore that relationship
  • If I seek first His will and righteousness, He will take care of everything else
  • I must view my actions through the lens of God’s holiness

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

Doing what is right in God’s eyes protects me from my own sinful desire to choose self-gratification rather than what pleases Him.

Suiting Up: I will seek to eliminate specific sins from my life.

  • I will ask God to convict me of wrongdoing.
  • I will confess failures to God and others who see my sins as soon as I am convicted.
  • I will attempt to recognize situations and events that could lead to unrighteousness before they occur and avoid them if possible or resist if necessary.

3. Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace

Understanding that I have accepted a place in God’s salvation plan gives me peace that provides a strong footing for all of my other activities.

Suiting Up: Spend time each day praising and thanking God for His salvation.

  • I will actively listen to music that is specifically about salvation each morning as I get ready for work instead of ESPN Radio.
  • I will intentionally think about and thank God for salvation each time I pray…even at meals.

4. Shield of Faith

Faith is my act of believing the truth that God has already established. Being intentionally full of faith will help me to defend against misinformation that could threaten my spiritual life.

Suiting Up: While mentally rehearsing God’s truth, I will explore areas of doubt that might indicate a weakness in my faith.

  • Do I really believe that my sin is my fault?
  • Do I really desire to seek God’s righteousness first?

5. Helmet of Salvation

Understanding and accepting God’s redemption plan is the ultimate defense against Spiritual attack.

Suiting Up: I will actively remember and re-live my salvation experience.

  • While listening to music about salvation, I will attempt to apply the lyrics to my specific circumstances.
  • I will be specific in my prayers of thanks for my salvation.
  • I will re-affirm my commitment to God each day.

6. Sword of the Spirit- the Word of God

I cannot fight a spiritual battle on my own. My weapon must be from a Spirit source and more powerful than I.

Suiting Up: I will actively read and meditate on the Word of God each day.

  • I will read God’s Word each morning before I begin my morning routine of getting ready for work.
  • I will choose a single theme of the passage I read to meditate upon throughout the day and I will set a reminder on my phone to force me to recall that theme at some point in the day.

I plan to be fully armored for one week beginning on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

Tweets from the Book of Ruth

I have read through the book of Ruth several times recently and have seen some great applications for my own life. I like to condense lessons that I learn into bite-sized nuggets that I can actually remember and meditate upon. Since the digital equivalent of this is a Tweet, here are several things I learned about the book of Ruth in exactly 140 characters each:

  • 1:16-17 Ruth had more than a family connection with Naomi, she embraced her culture and God. This commitment could only be severed by death.
  • 1: 20-21 Although Naomi returned to God’s perfect plan for her life and God used her circumstances greatly, her personal joy was sacrificed.
  • 2:2 While she could have felt entitled, Ruth took personal responsibility for her mother-in-law’s well-being and volunteered to gather food.
  • 2:3 Ruth “happened to come to the part of the field that belonged to Boaz.” From the human perspective sovereignty might appear coincidence.
  • 2:4 Boaz seemed to take personal responsibility for everything that happened in his field while still giving God the credit for the results.
  • 2:11-12 Boaz told Ruth that he was gracious to her because of her kindness to Naomi. It is usually easier to be generous to generous people.
  • 2:20 Although she had pointed out God’s judgment earlier, Naomi was quick to recognize the Lord’s hand of provision, grace, and forgiveness.
  • 3:12 Naomi and Ruth seemed to think that asking Boaz to be a redeemer would surprise him, but he had obviously thought of it and had a plan.
  • 4:5-6 Whether the rightful redeemers wanted to act seemed to hinge on their knowledge of Ruth. Boaz knew her and didn’t hesitate. #Character
  • 4:14-15 Ruth’s faithfulness and Boaz’s kindness brought Naomi full circle: from leaving her inheritance, to repentance, to full restoration.
  • Maybe I’m just dense but I’ve never noticed that the theme of the #BookOfRuth is Naomi’s redemption not Ruth’s separation from the Moabites.

What do you think Naomi would have tweeted? After she got Ruth to show her how, of course.

Ruth Hashtag Redeemed

All Sports Commissioner: Miscellaneous Sports

The All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe cannot simply focus on the big money sports of the United States. The last four words of my title imply that I must have a broader perspective; therefore, I will now turn my attention to some of the most glaring problems of other sports. The following regulations will take effect immediately on all levels of competition:

Volleyball

  • All position rules will be abolished. Six players on each side have three hits to get the ball over the net. That’s it. No forced rotations, front line, back line, players who can’t attack, etc. No other sport forces players into a certain position or role simply by rotation them through. Now volleyball doesn’t either.

Soccer

  • All professional and international games will have TWO field referees and two linesmen. How dumb is it to think that one referee can possibly be in good position to make every call when chasing the best athletes in the world around a 120 yard field?

Golf

  • A golfer’s shot routine should reflect his skill level. Any golfer who repeatedly takes more time to line up shots, read putts, examine the ball’s lie, check the wind, envision the shot, take practice swings, or plan shots than their skill level will forfeit all expectations for silence and stillness from playing partners. They may walk, talk, swing, and take shots while the slow golfer is playing provided they have warned him using the phrase “You’re not as good as you think you are” or “This isn’t the PGA, Tiger.”

Recreation League Sports

  • Any team that does not show up for a scheduled game without notifying the league or opposing team will not be permitted to play in that league for the next two seasons. All members of the roster will be banned.

Youth Sports Spectators

  • Any adult who continues to yell at an official, coach, or opposing fan after an official warning will be required to attend umpire/referee classes and obtain their official certification before attending another ball game on any level.
  • Any adult who yells at or publicly insults a minor on an opposing team will be banned from all sporting events for life. This ban may be appealed; however, all appeals to overturn this ruling must be accompanied by a donation to the offended child’s college fund.

Flagrant Fouls (All Sports)

  • Any player, on any level, who commits a flagrant, illegal act that injures another player will be suspended from play until the injured player is medically cleared to play.

I’d like to hear your ideas to make sports better. Please leave your ideas in the comments section below.

All Sports Commissioner: American Football

Hmmm...These are good ideasThank you for joining me once again. I anticipate that my life-long term as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe will have many memorable days filled with parades and feasts in my honor. Although my previous press releases have been met with great enthusiasm, I imagine that many of those celebrations will be on the anniversary of the proclamations that I am going to make today regarding the most-watched sport in the United States, American football. Since fans are extremely passionate about both collegiate and professional football, I will be addressing both the NFL and the NCAA today.

These guidelines will be effective immediately in the National Football League:

Extra Point

  • A single Point After Touchdown will be awarded to any team choosing to take the point. No more kicked extra point attempts. The 7th point will be credited to the team’s kicker for fantasy football purposes.
  • If a team wishes to go for two, they may choose to neglect the free PAT and attempt a two-point conversion according to current NFL rules.

Field of Play

  • The digital first down line will be placed on the field and will be considered the official line to gain. I have a few ideas of how this could be accomplished:
    • Fiber-optic material should be included in the artificial turf. It could be activated by a linesman holding a stake to the ground on the sideline (much like the chain gang now).
    • Laser beam from a pole (similar to the chain poles they have now) on one side of the field to a similar receiving pole on the other. This system has the added benefit of being able to sense when it has been interrupted like the invisible lasers that stop the conveyor belt in the grocery store.
    • Disappearing spray paint like they use in the World Cup. An official could very quickly push a sprayer across the field after the ball has been spotted. This is clearly the most low-tech solution and could slow the pace of play, therefore, it should only be used if the first two solutions prove to be scientifically impossible.
  • Ball tracking technology (a combination of GPS, stationary cameras, and the computer program used in tennis) should be used to indicate exactly where a ball is in relation to the goal line. An instant replay official should know with certainty if the ball is across the line while viewing every single frame of game footage. I’m envisioning an exact distance from the goal line displayed in the corner of the screen on every single frame. I would love to hear Ed Hochuli say “The ball carrier’s knee hit the ground when the ball was exactly 12.4 cm from the goal line. 3rd

These guidelines will be effective for NCAA football beginning with the 2015 season:

Playoffs

  • The national championship will be determined in a 16 team tournament as seeded by an independent panel. I would like to see how satisfactory this year’s 4-team selection process is before deciding who will serve on that panel.
  • Champions of all ten NCAA conferences will receive an automatic bid. The additional six teams will be selected by the panel.
  • Round of 16 and round of 8 games will be played at the home field of the higher seed. The home team must make at least 15% of the total seats available to the visiting university. The final three games will be played at a neutral site with 30% of the total ticket sales being outsourced to each the two universities.
  • Seeding of the tournament will be up to the sole discretion of the panel, however, only champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC must be seeded 1-5, guaranteeing them home field advantage.

Overtime

  • If teams are tied at the end of regulation, they will play actual football to determine the winner, not backyard scrimmage from the 25.
  • After a coin toss to determine possession and direction of play, a kickoff will start the overtime period. Play will continue for one 15 minute period.
  • If the score is still tied at the end of one 15 minute overtime period, play will continue where it left off in sudden death fashion with the next team to score declared the winner.

Uniforms

  • All NCAA football uniforms must fit the player properly. Shirts must be long enough to be tucked in and pants must expend below the knee.
  • Under Armor will be banned from designing any uniforms after they have repeatedly made Maryland look like a clown at a box of crayons then threw up all over the Terrapins.

The following rules are effective immediately for football games at all levels:

Television Broadcasts

  • Television broadcasts may not go to commercial after showing only a kickoff. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial may be the most annoying part of all sports. Networks may extend post-score commercial breaks by an additional minute to make up for lost revenue.

On-field Celebrations

  • Following any touchdown signaled by the referee, the 40 second play clock will start. Excessive celebration will only be called if the celebrating players are not back to their bench area by the expiration of this time.
  • Celebratory dances are encouraged for every player scoring a touchdown and required for any player weighing over 250 pounds.

All Sports Commissioner: NBA declaration

Thank you for joining me once again. It has truly been remarkable to see the sporting world rally behind my initiatives to make the world, if not better, at least more entertaining. In my 24 hour tenure as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe I have focused primarily on Major League Baseball. Now that, due to many long minutes of work, the problems of America’s Pastime are genuinely in the past, I have taken my talents to the National Basketball Association.NBA Press conference

The following changes will be made to the NBA, effective immediately:

Length of Season

  • The regular season will be shortened from 82 to 50 games. Over half of the teams make the playoffs; I don’t think it takes 82 games to figure out the best half.
  • No team shall play more than 3 games per week. No one wants to buy tickets to see Tim Duncan sit on the bench because the Spurs have 9 games in 6 days.
  • Preseason games, not to exceed two per week for any team, will begin the day after Thanksgiving and the regular season will begin on Christmas Day.

All-Star Weekend

  • The following season’s salary cap will be increased by $2 million per team for the conference that wins the All-Star Game.
  • Participants in the dunk contest will be determined by fan votes. The eight players receiving the most fan votes must participate or pay a fine of $1 million.

Game Play

  • An off-court official (preferably in a reporters booth or luxury suite) will be assigned to watch the television feeds and will be independently responsible for correcting out of bounds, timing, and any other reviewable calls. The head referee will no longer take time to watch instant replay on a courtside 17 inch monitor. As everyone at home knows, it doesn’t take that long to correct a call when you are watching the game in HD on a 50 inch LCD. Game officials will call the game as normal and will be buzzed if there is a need to review.
  • The in-the-booth replay official will also be responsible for reporting players for flopping and correcting fouls called after such actions. Don’t just fine them the next day, get the call correct right now.

Television

  • All games played at Eastern Conference sites will begin by 8:30 pm EST. Games at Western Conference sites should begin no later than 8:30 MST. Children should be able to watch the best players on the planet and still get more than 45 minutes of sleep each night.
  • Along with their traditional roles in the studio, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will be responsible for interviewing the head coaches on the court at halftime and following each game in hopes that Gregg Popovich loses it and puts one of them in a head lock.

Players

  • Both of Derrick Rose’s knees must be completely surrounded by bubble wrap when not participating in a competitive NBA game.
  • Carmello Anthony will be fined at the end of each game according to the following formula: (number of shots – number of passes) x $10,000 when Ns > Np.
  • Tim Duncan may only protest fouls in writing.
  • All players’ names will be pronounced phonetically. Names that are not pronouncable phonetically will be changed to “Bob.” Here’s a guide:
    • durk no-WITS-key (Dallas)
    • HEE-doh turk-oh-GLEW (Toronto)
    • BRY-an SKA-lah-bryn (Boston)
    • LEW-awl Deh-ng (Miami)
    • SEERG eye-BAK-ah (Oklahoma City)
    • Vlad-ih-mir rad-MAN-oh-vik (Chicago)

You may notice that both of my declarations have cleared other major professional sports out of football season. Please do not infer that I will leave football the way it is. My next declaration will, in fact, make changes to NFL and NCAA American football that will improve the game for both athlete and fan alike.

I want you to remember that I am doing this for you, the fan. As always, any opposing opinions regarding my rulings may be voiced at any of our open-forum discussions—the next of which is in December of 2035.

All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe: MLB Declaration

For immediate release

It is with great hesitation and reverence that I accept this position. I understand that all athletes, owners, coaches, and fans of every sport are placing a tremendous amount of trust in my judgment by making me the first All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe. I will do my best to honor the office and justify the exorbitant compensation package that has already been transferred to numerous Swiss bank accounts in my name.

MLB_LogoWith this unprecedented unilateral authority over all athletic competition, rules, leagues, and associations on this planet and any others on which humans may eventually settle and compete, I will institute changes to make sports more enjoyable at all levels. However, in order to foster more interest in all athletic endeavors, my first actions will be to make professional sporting events more enjoyable for fans both at the actual event and watching on television. With this primary goal in mind, I have compiled a list of changes for the major professional leagues that will be addressed one at a time.

Unfortunately, “America’s pastime” is a very fitting description of the game of baseball. It is largely in the past and takes a lot of time. Therefore, my first declaration as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe is designed to make this once-great game worthy of primetime broadcast again. I will make the following changes for the 2015 Major League Baseball season:

Officiating

  • Behind the plate umpires calling balls and strikes will be replaced by the virtual strike box that is shown on TV (FoxTrax, PitchTrax, K-Zone, etc.).

ESPN K-Zone

  • Since he does not need to call balls and strikes, the home plate umpire will be repositioned to stand to the side of the catcher, facing the batter so that he may accurately determine if the batter swung at a pitch or successfully checked his swing.
  • Umpires will no longer be allowed to scream back at irate managers like a spoiled little girl whose brother crashed Barbie’s tea party. Either walk away or listen politely. If the manager yells, eject him. Upon ejection, managers must pitch a fit worthy of the “Not Top Ten” or face heavy fines and suspensions.

Length of Games

  • A 12 second pitch clock will start as soon as “ball” or “strike” is displayed on the scoreboard, or when the ball is returned to the pitcher after a batted ball. A ball will be called if a pitcher has not entered his pitching motion when the clock expires. 5 seconds will be added for a throw to a base with a runner but no more than 10 seconds will be added between each pitch.
  • Visits to the mound by managers or catchers will not be permitted. Pitchers, catchers, and, managers will be permitted to wear in-ear radios and microphones to discuss pitch strategy.
  • No on-mound warm up time will be permitted for pitching changes after a half-inning has begun.
  • Batters may not request time or step out of the box once the pitcher is on the rubber. Any pitch thrown while the batter is out of the box will be recorded as a ball or strike.

Increased Offensive Production (That’s what we’re paying to see)

  • All teams in both the National and American Leagues will be permitted to utilize as many designated hitters as they wish in their lineups. No one buys tickets to see pitchers, catchers, and 2nd basemen hit routine grounders to pitchers, catchers, and 2nd basemen.
  • I think we can all agree that baseball was much more exciting when Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGuire were hitting baseballs so far that TBS was reporting the distances in Astronomical Units. Random testing will be administered to ensure super-human levels of testosterone in designated hitters—players who have the sole responsibility of crushing the ball like Bruce Banner after someone insulted his momma.

Uniforms

  • Opposing teams may not wear the same uniform color. Period.
  • Managers with a Body Mass Index greater than 30 will not be permitted to wear the same uniform as players. During games, obese managers should wear officially licensed, business casual, MLB-branded clothing. During batting practice, they may wear officially licensed MLB athletic gear and run laps around the warning track.

Length of Season

  • The regular season will be cut from 162 games to 124.
  • The MLB playoffs will conclude before Labor Day. Let’s face it—once football starts, no one cares.

I will not be taking any questions at this time, but rest assured that changes will be made in the NFL and NBA soon. When professional leagues are in line I will turn my attention to amateur athletics from the NCAA all the way down to the youngest of youth sports. Spoiler alert: No more trophies for losers.

Bracket Math

I love March Madness! Not only is it a chance for me to watch 4 basketball games at one time, I get to geek out with some ridiculously large numbers—the odds of producing a perfect bracket prior to the tournament. For this exercise, we will limit ourselves to the round of 64 and beyond (since the NCAA can’t trick us into pretending we care about the First Four unless our team is playing).

Basic Probability

Number of teams- 64

Number of games- 63

This is way more obvious than most people realize so you can stop counting the blanks on your bracket. If one team is eliminated in every game, it will take exactly 63 eliminations (games) to leave one team victorious.

Possible outcomes of each game- 2

One team will win, one team will lose.

Possible number of brackets- 2^63 = 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (over nine quintillion)

If you don’t understand basic probability, here is a crash course. Multiply the number of possible outcomes of an event times the number of possible outcomes of every other event. In this case…

2 (the number of possible outcomes of the first game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the second game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the third game)…x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the 63rd game) = 2^63 power.

If you don’t trust that math, work it out with a simple 4 team bracket:

four team bracket possibilities

There are only four possible winners of the tournament, but there are two different ways for each team to win because there are two possible opponents for each winner in the championship game. To verify the math…

2 (the number of possible outcomes of the first game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the second game) x 2 (the number of possible outcomes of the third game) = 8

2^3=8

Astronomical Numbers

Understanding 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets

If you printed out 1,000 brackets you would have a stack of paper 8 inches tall.

Print 1,000 brackets 999 more times you would have one million brackets.

You now have enough 8 inch stacks to cover ¼ of a basketball court.

Repeat that whole process 999 more times and you will have one billion (1,000,000,000) brackets that are now covering 250 basketball courts in 4 inches of paper.

You would need to repeat this entire process over 9 billion (9,000,000,000) more times in order to have every possible bracket.

If you printed that many brackets…

  • You would be able to cover over 76.5 billion basketball courts up to the height of the rim.
  • You would be able to make 6,261 stacks of paper that reached the sun. and still have one-tenth of a stack left over.
  • If you enlisted the help of every person on earth (all 7,000,000,000 of us) to make one unique bracket per minute with no breaks to sleep, eat, or do anything else…we would finish a few months after the tournament ended in the year 4519.
  • From the time the bracket is finalized to the time entries are locked in most contests is about 89 hours. In order to have all of the brackets printed in time, you would need to have a computer capable of printing 28,787,054 brackets every nanosecond.

But don’t bother with all of that…

I made out the perfect bracket this year and have already spent Warren Buffet’s $1,000,000,000.

God Doesn’t Use Ordinary People

David and GoliathWe need to stop using David and 1 Samuel 17 as an example that “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” David wasn’t ordinary. He came from a fairly ordinary family and started in an ordinary job, but his skill set was remarkably extraordinary. Two of these skills proved to be instrumental in catapulting David into a position where he could do amazing things for God:

 

 

David was skilled with a sling. I don’t believe David would have even had the courage to face Goliath had he not had great confidence in his ability as a slinger. I’m not discounting God’s provision in allowing the stone to find its mark, but the accuracy (“it struck the Philistine on the forehead”) and speed (“The stone sank into his forehead”) with which he hurled the single projectile proved how much time he had devoted to honing this particular ability. The fact that the Bible even records his selection of ammunition—five smooth stones—is a testament to the care he took when performing his craft.

David was a talented musician. Before the encounter with Goliath, David already had his foot in the door with royalty. In the previous chapter when Saul was vexed by an evil spirit and his advisors suggested that music might help, David’s name was at the top of the list. I can’t believe that King Saul would tolerate anything less than the best harpist he could find. David had obviously practiced an incredible amount of time to ensure that he mastered the instrument before it ever proved to be valuable.

These skills were developed while David was young. He, no doubt, had practiced and trained in private for years before he ever showcased his abilities in public. They were fairly mundane and common proficiencies that anyone with a little drive and determination could have cultivated, but David recognized that he had some aptitude and grew them into very valuable skills.

So instead of telling young Christians that God can use ordinary people, I believe we should be telling them:

  1. Discover your valuable natural abilities and interests.
  2. Work tirelessly to hone those talents into extraordinary skills.
  3. Search for ways to bring glory to God using those amazing abilities.
  4. When God presents you with an opportunity to use your expertise, recognize His leading and go for it! Go play for the King! Go slay the giant!

God can use ordinary people, but if you study the Bible you’ll find that, most of the time, the ordinary people He used had already developed extraordinary skills.

Love Story

I read a book recently that I thought was going to be an adventure with lots of battles and some mystery thrown in, but it turned out to be primarily a love story. It had some of those other things in it as well, but the primary focus was the love interest of one couple.

The girl and the hero of the book loved each other very much and spent every moment they could together. The two were inseparable and she just knew their love would last forever…and then the other guy showed up. He talked her into rejecting her love and the two were now apart. Maybe “on again off again” is a better description because the hero never gave up on her. He wrote letters and poems to her, he made promises regarding his commitment, he sent his friends to talk to her and build up his good qualities. Sometimes these actions made her angry and she would reject his advances. Other times she would realize her true love for him and would go back to him temporarily.

The scorned man, madly in love, finally went to see the girl who had rejected him and, at the prompting of the other guy, she murdered the hero. This tragic tale got even worse as the antagonist turned out to be a dragon in disguise and was merely using the girl to overthrow the hero who was a king!

SPOILER ALERT!

The king came back from the dead, raised an army, defeated the dragon just as his defeat seemed sure, got the girl back…and they lived happily ever after.

 

 

Cheesy story? Maybe. But that’s how the Bible told it.

The Medium is the Message

dislikeSerious ideas cannot be distributed through non-serious means. A less-than-ideal delivery system weakens the message, confuses the audience, and implies a complete lack of research and solemnity in the ideas. Unfortunately this means that, for most of us, our largest public platform is mostly useless as a way to distribute serious information about which we feel strongly.

I’ll dispense with the philosophical groundwork and just come out and say it:

Facebook is rarely the proper channel for serious discussion.

There are many reasons that Facebook is not generally a good venue for serious discussion/promotion of a serious topic. None of these reasons mean that Facebook is bad, evil, or even a waste of time; it’s just not conducive to many challenging ideas because…

1. Facebook is primarily used for entertainment purposes.

While browsing through social media, most of us are simply not in the right frame of mind to think seriously and deeply about anything. We are looking for pictures of our friends, funny one-liners, catching up on weird news, and generally looking for what is interesting in the world today. Occasionally an important message will jump out of the crowd, but even when it does…

2. Facebook, by its very design, generates skimming rather than absorbing information.

On social media, information is given out in bite-sized increments. Larger messages are truncated so that you must actively and intentionally read the rest. We aren’t looking for stories, just headlines. If that headline can’t tell the whole story or grab our attention then it will probably get lost in the clutter. This desire by each of us to find new ways to cut through the static and make our stories seem even more interesting has produced an online environment demanding that…

3. Facebook is one big advertisement.

This is not just true of the actual advertisements. Almost every post is a plea to “Look at my picture”, “Like my joke!”, “Comment on my opinion!”, “Appreciate my situation!”, “Notice me!” We are all competing for attention among the triviality of social media. Every one of us thinks our posts, pictures, and commentary is worth being seen by others. Because we all think that our information is important enough to be seen…

4. On Facebook, all posts are equal.

Because Facebook was designed to create discussion and let people be heard, well-prepared statements, one-liners, rants, personal attacks, and wild defenses by offended parties are all given equal credence. Don’t post well-thought out and articulated ideas and opinions to Facebook without expecting a barrage of unprepared and hastily prepared responses. Your hours of research culminating with a heartfelt plea for a cause about which you care deeply can be dismissed with a “To each his own, I guess” or a “Maybe instead of calling other people out you should…” or a “Can’t we all just get along?” or even “I don’t see it that way at all, I think…”

Once again, the problem lies in the fact that most of us have a greater number of people who listen to us on Facebook than we do in the face to face world, so we use that platform to share what we feel passionately about. Go ahead! There’s nothing wrong with that! Just don’t be surprised when it isn’t met with the enthusiastic agreement of your friends.

Maybe all of this just proves that reach and influence are not synonymous.

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