May 2011 |


Have you ever heard of the infamous “War of the Worlds broadcast?” On Halloween’s eve in 1938, Orsen Well’s voice came over the CBS radio network announcing that there was a martian invasion. What people did not realize was that Welles was an actor, that he was reading H.G. Wells book “War of the Worlds”, and that this was not a news bulletin.

The general public responded with widespread panic.  They thought it was real!

In college, I remember learning about this event in my media history class.  The “War of the World’s broadcast” was a historical marker in media communication.

An article about this incident on Wikepedia states: “In the aftermath of the reported panic, a public outcry arose…Welles and the Mercury Theatre escaped punishment, but not censure…Many radio commercials to this day now start with the phrase ‘We interrupt this program.'”

I believe that a significant historical marker in media communications happened earlier this week.

On May 1 at around 10:30PM, Twitter and Facebook “lit up.”   If you happened to be online at the time, you would have seen post after post after post commenting on Bin Laden’s death.  People from all over the world quickly shared their reactions and opinions.

What’s more, it is possible that the President, was forced to make his announcement speech earlier, because the leaked information was now abuzz.

Two of my favorite social media stories on Sunday evening were:
1) Fans check their cell phones at Phillies-Mets game and a spontaneous flash-mob chant of “U-S-A” begins.  This happened before any “official” announcement was made.

2) Resident in Abbottabad, Pakistan unknowingly tweets about the raid. I especially love how he increased from 700 Twitter followers to 100,000 in 24 hours.

What is the change?

“Mass media” has trumped “social media!”

May 1 reminded us that every person now has the ability to significantly influence the story.   Everyone is a storyteller.

As soon as I heard the news on Sunday night, I turned on the television.  But I also opened Facebook.   The news people had only so much information to share (until Obama spoke).  So they reverted to opinions and reactions.  My “friends” on Facebook had all kinds of reactions too.  I think I was more entertained by them, probably because I knew them better.

So who is creating the news?  Is it the mass media?  Or is it the masses?

Why does this matter?

Today, there is a good chance that you will post a comment, photo, or reaction on a social media network.  In doing so, you are participating in storytelling. I think that this is fantastic.

SO: Who gets the glory in your storytelling?

Does the glory go to you?
Because you are so great, so good looking, and people want to be reminded of your greatness? (personal worship)

Does Satan get the glory?
Because you put people down (defaming the image of God) and celebrate music and media that glorifies sin?

Does God get the glory?
Because you choose daily to reflect Him in both word and deed?

You are an influential storyteller. Who’s story will you tell?

Daniel Riemenschneider is the High School Youth Pastor at Bloomingdale Church. He enjoys hanging out with students and their families, finding adventures outside, and lots of quality time with his wife.  Contact him at: |