As the dust settles on the Komen Foundation-Planned Parenthood story, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are settling down as well after the media storm resulted from the story. We all saw pink “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” banners, Twitter hashtags, and other supportive material spread through these networks like wildfire immediately after the story broke out. Now we learn that this was not exactly a spontaneous, grassroots movement, but rather part of a deliberate public relations offensive prearranged by Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood understood that the medium was the message. The mediums in this case are social networking sites that have created virtual communities, alternate places for people to interact with one another. By gathering the well-strategized support of people in these communities, Planned Parenthood was able to direct the manner in which major media outlets reported on the story—albeit half of the story where anti-abortion voices were notably absent.
In a capstone study I conducted for my graduate work, I studied the rhetoric of Latino Facebook communities and concluded that, “community is adjusting because it is transferring traditional practices of community-building onto online networks. The study of Latino Facebook groups is especially relevant to this point because the values they share reflect existing values among the Latino community in the United States. These values are simply being articulated and cultivated in new and open online platforms like Facebook.”
The same and much more can be said about people who hold Kingdom values of God. It is inevitable and natural that our values as followers of Christ will be reflected in virtual communities because we belong to the strongest community of all. As Jesus said in John 17:14, we are not of this world. Virtual communities can never take the place of real communities like Bound4LIFE where we can cry out to an Almighty God in prayer and worship. But our attitude as believers should also be one of unity; we must use the means available to us to spread the message of Christ, which includes being a voice to the unborn in the social networks we participate in.