Strong and Weak Ties

I found an article by Malcolm Gladwell this morning about Twitter, Facebook, and Social Activism. There are a lot of interesting points, but the best one is about the value of strong ties versus weak ones. Weak ties allow us to gain vast amounts of information very quickly - via Twitter, YouTube, or other means. What they do not lead to, Gladwell writes, is “high risk activism.”

Is following Christ high risk activism? I think that’s a fairly Biblical characterization. Mark 10:29-30 tells us that we will recieve many persecutions as a result of sacrificing our present lives for His glory. Sacrifice and suffering persecution sound like high-risk activities to me. And I’m not just talking about those who are practicing the Gospel in dark places; I’m talking about the difficulty of really living for Christ in the tolerance of the Western world.

In the same “strong ties” vein, I saw a video from the iGNiTe series last week that covered the influence your friends have on you and vice versa.

Though the speaker doesn’t come out and say it, I don’t think it’s your Facebook friends who are making you fat, it’s the RL (Real Life) ones. The ones to whom you have strong ties.

So what’s the point? The point is that we are not going to become truly Christ-like just by following @jonacuff or watching discipletip videos. Those tools have their places and the internet is a great way to find new ideas, but they’re not the most effective ways to change lives. If your twitter account is @howtofollowJesusChristbecauseHeistheonlywaytoheaven, that’s great; if your daily life doesn’t involve real, person-to-person fellowship and sharing lives, your impact is going to be minimal and probably won’t inspire people to the difficult task of taking up their cross daily. Jesus didn’t make his disciples through mass communication, even though he spoke to the masses on many occaisions. When He wanted to make disciples, He picked twelve dudes and spent every possible minute with them. Fellowshipping. Teaching. Laboring together. That’s our model. Nothing against mass media - it definitely has its uses - but it’s not the end-all-be-all.