Blackballed

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We live in an odd time. A time where we think about how much our friends like our social media posts. How when they suddenly stop liking them or commenting, we begin to question whether they really are our friends or not.

Can you imagine telling your great grandparents, those that had lived through the Great Depression, about how your friends on social media are suddenly not liking your posts?

“I feel like they are blackballing me, Great Grandma Hall.”

And as we are navigating these choppy social waters, the thought dawns on us that we will have to help our kids through muck like this too. (Pulling the plug on the Internet isn’t the solution either. Let go of the cord!) We have to engage, walk through, and confront these thoughts/situations that pop up.  Asking ourselves if perhaps:

  • We are spending too much time on social media
  • A friend we know through social media isn’t a great influence on us
  • Why such such a seemingly petty thing matters

When we get down to the core of the issue, it shouldn’t matter whether someone likes or comments on our posts… and yet it does.

“And Jesus said, love only those who like and comment on your social media musings.” – Not In The Bible

What do you think? I love it when you share your thoughts below in the comments.

Personal Preferences and Media Consumption

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Back on this date in 2017, I asked the following question on Facebook:

Parents: How much do personal preferences play a role in what media your child consumes?

The general response was that personal parental preferences play a huge role in what media a child consumes. I know that for years, in my home, I have curated and encouraged consumption of specific video games, shows, and movies. Part of that is me being an engaged parent; the other part of that is wanting to show my son what quality media looks and feels like.

Super Mario Odyssey represents quality media.

Over the years, my son has watched a few shows that have driven me nuts. There has been nothing wrong with these shows, content-wise, but the voice acting and plotlines just seemed inane. Something I’ve had to learn, as a parent, is that sometimes my kid is going to like something I do not.

The big bad video game, in my house lately, has been Fortnite. A typical match looks like:

  • Picking a place on the map to start out in
  • Scavenging for weapons
  • Trying not to make a lot of noise and survive
  • Engaging fellow players with the weapons I’ve collected while trying not to become a victim of the virtual Hunger Games.

I have found that I enjoy the satisfaction of staying alive and making it into the final 5 players alive. Knowing that 95 other players have been eliminated and that I’m one of the few remaining is a good feeling. But I dislike how aimless Fortnite otherwise feels. I dislike the lack of direction, objectives, and how I have to make my own fun while surviving at the same time.

Fortnite does not fit my personal gaming preferences. This has taken me awhile to realize/put into words. But I’ve learned that there are times, as a parent, where you need to be quiet and explore the things your kids love. I may dislike Fortnite for many reasons, but I enjoy the time I get to play with my son. I have to focus on that positive, co-op play, and ignore the “we could be playing such-and-such game instead because that game is designed better” thoughts. Play in the moment, right?

From Across the Net – “The Cost of Surrounding Yourself with Negative People”

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In our culture of “unfriending” and “muting” others, I found this piece by Tim Challies titled “The Cost of Surrounding Yourself with Negative People” refreshing.

It turns out that there is something far more costly than being with negative people: The cost of avoiding negative people, and thus, avoiding the kind of life that Jesus calls us to.

You can read more here.

Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

From Across the Net: “Help, I’m Exhausted by Social Media”

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Thankful for this piece by Stephen Altrogge:

“I get jealous. I want your calling. I want to do those fun, amazing, big, fast things. I want to do cool stuff for God. Quiet is boring. Mundane seems lame. I feel pathetic and purposeless.

Social media stretches me beyond my calling. It makes we want people and places and things that God has called you to, not me. I find these words of John Calvin to be helpful:

Each individual has his own living assigned to him by the Lord as a sort of sentry post so that he may not heedlessly wander about throughout life.

Your calling isn’t my calling, and if I try to take what’s yours, I’ll wander heedlessly through life. I’ll leave the places of good, fruitful, productive work God has staked out for me, and wander into wastelands instead.”

Read more here

Top Five Things I Learned While Running A Facebook Group

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So you’ve decided to form a group on Facebook, fantastic! Facebook Groups are a great way to share a common interest with others. I should know, I successfully ran a videogame-related Facebook Group for 3 years. In that time, I learned to:

1. Promote a positive group culture by embracing a simple tagline that explains the rules – “Be excellent to one another.”

2. Recruit moderators that help shape conversations/discussions. Example: Ask followup questions and “like” responses.

KEY: Moderators are not policeman.

3. Allow conversations to run their course even if the discussion becomes uncomfortable.

4. Never threaten to ban people (see #3 above). Extend grace. If needed, talk to individuals one-on-one for clarification.

And that:

5. Growth is not measured by members added but by the conversations had.

So have fun. Ask big questions. Cultivate a group that you’d want to hang out with in real life.

Moving on

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I stepped down as Community Manager of Theology Gaming a few weeks ago. After three years of cultivating conversation and community, I’m done. The mental background noise of what began to feel like a part time job has diminished. I am free. And yet, I miss the online community where I could throw ideas at the wall to see what stuck.
Right now, I find myself evaluating:
  • Where to go next.
  • What to do with my blog.
  • And on a deeper level, what it means to interact with others online. The internet is weird when it comes to relationships. Instant messaging brings about a false sense of freedom in conversation. You find yourself saying things that you’d never say in physical space. Even weirder, the internet lacks permanence. You can talk to people for years and then poof, they are gone. What does that mean? How are we supposed to react?

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JohnnyBGamer has always been my space, online, to create and share. That won’t stop anytime soon.

Miitomo

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The legacy of the Mii, Nintendo’s player avatar creations, continues with Miitomo. Uniting iOS and Android users, Miitomo is a personable social network experiment. Inhabited by Facebook and Twitter friends, Miitomo encourages and rewards players for:

  • Answering questions
  • Reading, listening, liking, and responding to your friends replies

Gamification of Social Media: Check

There is also an odd game within the game called Miitomo Drop (drop a player down a board, hope they hit something valuable). As well as options to buy and dress up a player’s Mii. Style points awarded, of course.

Beyond the spongy exterior, the heart-filled frosting of Miitomo tastes hollow. There just isn’t much to do in this app. Yes, Nintendo has done a great job building an oddball social network. I keep wondering though where the gameplay hook is.

As a longtime Animal Crossing fan, the ability to decorate your Mii’s space would be most welcome. Minigames in the vein of the 3DS Mii minigames (Find Mii, Puzzle Swap, etc.) would elevate Miitomo to another level. Nintendo excels when they take a simple concept and refine the player experience.

Miitomo makes great first impression. The missing gameplay hook, the reason to stay and enjoy this weird world, must be found. Mario is indeed missing.