#ReclaimSocial – Post Positive in 2019!

#ReclaimSocial – Post Positive in 2019!

Social media has so much potential to be a force for good. We can re-connect with old friends easier than ever before, share important news articles and keep distant family up to date with changes in our lives. Social media has also been central to campaigns and protests, as demonstrated by the viral #metoo campaign.

But it is impossible to deny that there is a dark side to social media that isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Fake news, trolling and catfishing (a form of identity theft) are serious problems that social media firms need to do more to tackle.

The negativity on social media isn’t just limited to cyber-criminals, who go out intentionally to cause harm. The death of Molly Russell has highlighted that social media platforms, particularly Instagram, contain a huge amount of content that is inappropriate for a young, easily influenced audience. Even worse, the algorithms used by social media sites are designed so that once you’ve interacted with one form of content, you’re directed to more – no matter how negative it might be.

And this is to say nothing of the inevitable hit to self-confidence, after spending several hours a day making unfavourable comparisons to super-models and popstars. The social media landscape can look incredibly bleak.

So, what can you do? Well, one option would be to follow the example of celebrity figures like Ariana Grande, Selena Gomes and Ed Sheeran and take a good long break from social media. Whilst many public figures seem to only resort to this once they’ve made a major faux pas, increasingly celebrities are breaking up with social media for the good of their mental health.

But, of course, if you do that you can’t make the most of all the benefits that social media offers! Luckily there is an alternative.

Together, we can Reclaim Social Media for good.

Last year, tech-for-good company Lightful started the campaign #ReclaimSocial which reached 13 million people in just one day. This year, SPCK, along with hundreds of other organisations big and small are joining the movement!

And you can too.

There is so much good in the world – we just need to hear about it! Positive things happen every day. Charities and not for profits are working hard in the UK and across the world to make a difference in people’s lives. Yet, all we hear about are when charities get it wrong. And in the past few years we, as a sector, have on occasion got it horribly wrong.

But we have also done incredible work that has changed the world for the better. And that deserves to be celebrated and shared. We all need hope, and by sharing your good news stories you can bring some of that hope to someone in your network.

This is the good news story, I want to share.

On my New Year’s Day walk this year, I stumbled past a lovely old church on the edge of a village called Ballidon. The village is tiny. In fact, it’s mostly a working quarry with a farm and a few houses. It’s surprising that it ever had a population large enough to fill a church, and it certainly hasn’t done for a while.

The last time I walked this route (from Parwich to Cromford, in Derbyshire, along the Limestone Way), it was boarded up with huge fences around the outside and “Dangerous Building” signs clearly displayed. It was lovely, but unloved. This was five years ago. Since then it has been transformed. Its surroundings were always spectacular, but now the church is too. The door was open, the chapel was refurbished and pews were returned to the church. It was beautiful. All thanks to the work of a fantastic small Christian charity.

It was a wonderful start to the New Year. If there is a hope for a tiny run-down church in a remote village in Derbyshire, then surely there is for us all.

And so, when I got home, I set up a membership to this charity. Jesus teaches us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21) I’m a Christian, so really my life is about putting his teaching into practise, but this year I’m focusing on this one in particular.

I don’t want my heart to be in a savings account, waiting for a house deposit, tuition for a postgraduate degree or even an around the world trip. I don’t want it to be in the global corporations that I buy from. I want my heart to be in the things I care about – family, nature (and trees in particular) and yes, old church buildings. So, this year, I’m going to make a positive change in the world by giving to these causes that I care about.

So, in 2019, I am going to give to charity more, starting with the small Christian charity that transformed that little church in Ballidon.

If you’re thinking of making a similar change, there are a number of things you can do:

• Give to a charity, maybe even a Christian charity – there are loads of charities, big and small, doing excellent work so take the time to find one that you can really get behind!
• Volunteer your time – at a foodbank, or shelter, or even just in your church, your time can make a massive difference
• Share your positive stories and share the stories of the people around you – we all need encouragement sometimes!

Use the #ReclaimSocial throughout 2019, and post positive!