Tips for Thriving Online in 2016
Photo credit Jason Howie

Tips for Thriving Online in 2016

Posted December 31, 2015 by Sean McDowell

One of my goals for 2016 is to learn how to use social media for effectively and wisely. To reach this goal, I have been reading a number of books that discuss how younger generations use technology, how to think theologically about technology, and practical books on how to thrive online.

My first wave of books include The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World, From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online, and The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. If you have any further suggestions, please send them my way!

I would highly recommend the book Net Smart, by Howard Rheingold. If you’re looking to “thrive online” as the subtitle suggests, then this may be an excellent resource (My thanks to @Jeremy_Pettit for sending me a copy!). Here are a few quotes from his book that I found particularly insightful. Check out these quotes, and then consider getting a copy for yourself:

I have found through years of trial and much error that the most enriching, least harmful way for me to live in my own computer-mediated world is to cultivate an occasional but ongoing inner inquiry into whether my own activity of the moment is really as significant as what is happening in the rest of my life at each moment (8).

Whatever else might be said of teenage (and any age) bloggers, dorm-room video producers, or the millions who maintain pages on social network services like MySpace, Facebook, and Google+, it cannot be asserted that they are passive media consumers. They seek, adopt, appropriate, and invent ways to participate in cultural production (19).

In previous eras, it may have been true that “it’s not what you know but who you know.” Today, how you know who you know matters as much as who you know, and one of the most valuable traits a person could have in a twenty-first century organization is a knack for knowing “who knows who knows what” (24).

Most media multitasking is actually task switching rapidly, not parallel processing, and this switching is more mentally costly than anybody thinks (37).

The writer’s primary response to the world’s infinite opportunity for distraction ought to be one of internal discipline, not ascetic withdrawal (53).

Learn to ignore the trolls (people who make outrageous or nasty comments in order to provoke a reaction). Pay attention to the critics; they are your teachers, giving you free advice. And cultivate the fans who think enough of you to make suggestions for you to share with your public (123).

You can’t easily erase bad talk about you online; a better strategy is to dilute it with good talk (141).

Deliberately add a time delay on your emotional responses before you make any public posting or send a private email. In most cases, not saying anything is the best decision (166).

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog at