Middle East (SAT-7/MNN) — SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, shares the positive effects of social media, as well as how to properly address it:
Today’s technology offers more ways than ever before to interact with people. But is social media all good? In a way, isn’t it anti-social?
Follow Me, directed by Elie Hayek and hosted by Nicolas Mouawad, uses a biblical perspective to show both the benefits and risks of social media. The format for Follow Me features the text messages, Facebook™ and YouTube™ comments, tweets, WhatsApp™ messages, and e-mails surrounding a selected topic trending in social media.
The way teens and young adults communicate has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. They are now much more likely to text or instant message one another than to talk over the phone. When asked what’s driving this change, Nicolas says, “To me, it’s an idea of running away from confrontation. It’s always easier to write than to speak to the person.”
While the show was originally designed for social media technology, Nicolas comments, “I took it to a social level.” He is referring to his passion for exploring social problems that affect people’s daily lives. One episode addressed the social impact of the war in Syria. Follow Me offered encouragement as Nicolas read online messages from viewers who were praying for Syrians and the future of their country. This topic, in particular, showed the power of social media to be an uplifting and positive influence in people’s lives. It was especially relevant as a quarter of the population of Lebanon (where the show is filmed) is comprised of Syrian refugees.
Another episode was dedicated to online gaming. Teens and young adults spend a lot of time online downloading and playing video games with other online players. Nicolas warned viewers about the negative effects of violent games and offered parents resources for evaluating the content of video games. Follow Me has also promoted Internet safety in other episodes by tackling online bullying and the risks of posting baby photos online.
Several episodes invited viewers to share their beliefs on controversial topics such as abortion and the death penalty. More recent episodes discussed the biggest events of 2013 and a biblical understanding of New Year’s resolutions.
Viewers may recognize Nicolas as a renowned Lebanese actor and director who has appeared in TV series on the popular Arab television networks Rotana and MBC 4. He also competed in Dancing with the Stars–Lebanon and starred in the film, Love’s Improvisations (in Arabic, Takaseem al-Hob). Having achieved notoriety in the mainstream television industry, Nicolas is a role model for viewers. Lebanon’s television industry is heavily saturated with the social pressures of materialism and body image, but Follow Me gives Nicolas the opportunity to articulate healthy, godly behavior.
Nicolas first began working with SAT-7 as the producer of the youth program, From Me to You (in Arabic, Minne Elak). From Me to You has become popular with viewers and now airs live each week.
An Egyptian viewer is optimistic about the role of social media in expressing Christian faith. He posted on the Follow Me Facebook page, “I think social media is one of the best ways to talk about Jesus as the message goes viral and it reaches large numbers of people. The best way is to talk about Jesus through the Bible and what Jesus said about Himself.”
About half of the populations of the Arab World are under the age of 21. Live teen programs like Follow Me and From Me to You seize an important opportunity to invest in tomorrow’s leaders of the Arabic-speaking world. At a time when many influences are competing for youths’ attention, SAT-7 reminds them that God loves them and is calling them to follow Him.
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