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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




The Right Way

Turning Social Media Negatives Into Positives

By Ashli O’Connell
Mar. 30, 2014

Hannah Beers knows what it feels like to open her Facebook page and be depressed — by images and messages pushing society’s definition of beauty, value and worth.

The 19-year-old sophomore at Evangel University (Assemblies of God) in Springfield, Mo., like most of her peers, has long been active in social media networking. Beers began using popular media tools at 12, and though she loves it, she acknowledges the daily digital dialogue is not always good for teens.

“I believe insecurity is more prominent since social media became a part of our daily lives,” Beers says.

As an AG pastor’s daughter growing up in Steelville, Mo., Beers had a loving family and a great support system. But she says feelings of insecurity still plagued her at times.

“How much do girls without that support system suffer?” she asks. “How much worse do young people feel when there is no one to tell them of their worth, their potential, and God’s love?”

In February 2013, Beers became so burdened by these concerns she decided to do something about it.

“I saw the lives of young people everywhere enslaved by a concept that destroys their ability to live successful and godly lives, and I was angry,” she says.

And so she did what any millennial teen would do. She went online.

Beers decided the best tool to counter negative social media would be positive social media.

“I look at social media this way: They are tools,” she says. “Tools are at your use. They can be used positively or negatively. The same is true with social media. They are fast-paced forms of communication with potentially widespread impact. When used appropriately, they can benefit the user and spread hope.”

Beers rallied her friends, shared her passion, and launched a campaign. The website Insecurely Movement — aimed at directing users to security in Christ — spread farther and more quickly than Beers could have imagined.

Today, Insecurely Movement is reaching about 20,000 people a month in more than 112 countries.

Through twice-weekly blog posts at www.insecurelymovement.com, extensive social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and inspiring YouTube videos, Beers and the 16 student volunteers who work with her are spreading their three-pronged mission: to redefine the meaning of worth, help young people face their insecurities, and help them discover a path to healing.

The most successful project to date has been a “spoken word” video that has reached more than 70,000 views online. “Insecurely: A Spoken Word” was written and performed by 19-year-old Joshua Buckner, a student at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.

Produced by students and disseminated through social media, the video articulates the movement’s belief that young women can overcome the insecurities heaped on them by the culture if they learn to see themselves through God’s eyes.

Buckner prepared for the video by reading all the blog testimonies on the Insecurely website and praying that God would use him as a vessel to make a difference in their journeys.

“This process and movement as a whole has a very special place in my heart,” he says. “Not only showing me that God can and will use me in ways that I’d never expect, but that all He needs is a girl in college with crazy faith and love for people and some friends willing to help her to start what has the potential to be a world-changing movement.”

When Buckner thinks about the 70,000 people who have viewed the video online, he is overwhelmed.

“I’m in awe that so many people have received the message God wanted me to share,” he says. “We said from the beginning that if one person said it had an effect on their life, it would be worth it. The replies we have received are amazing. I am truly in awe of what God can do.”

Beers says that while the numbers are exciting, they aren’t the focus of the movement. The focus is individual changed lives.

“For me,” she says, “the best moment in this journey was when a young woman let me know, in a heartbreaking and meaningful conversation, that she could finally let the people she loved the most know she had struggled with a serious self-harm problem during high school. Insecurely Movement gave her the boldness to overcome and share her story.”

Without social media, that message likely would never have reached farther than Beer’s dorm room. But thanks to powerful digital media, it reached much farther. The movement has grown to include students from other Assemblies of God colleges around the nation.

Chelsea Watkins, a 22-year-old student at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, works with Beers on the Insecurely staff.

“As a major in communication, I’ve seen how greatly social media can influence someone’s views on life and themselves,” Watkins says. “The Insecurely Movement not only influences, but changes those views for the better. It gets the audience thinking and seeking real truth about what it means to be beautiful.

“It’s awesome to see a group set on correcting the false idea of beauty. In every post, they remind me I am loved, I am valued, and I am beautiful.”  

Beers says she will continue spreading that message online because there are teens like her who need it.

“My mission is to let people know insecurities do not have to define your life,” she says. “You can overcome. You can live in strength. You can make a difference.”

Making a difference. That’s the power of social media. Today’s Christian teens have a platform to share Christ and impact the world in ways their parents and grandparents couldn’t have imagined.

“The possibilities are endless,” Beers insists.


ASHLI O’CONNELL Is Web content developer and editor for Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., and a former member of the Pentecostal Evangel editorial team.

 

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