We all know the power of social media to connect and reach out.
I am advocate for social media as a ministry tool. It is a powerful part of many ministries including my own.
But I have been considering the other side of the social media coin.
There is a dark side.
- The web is such an appropriate name for the Internet. It truly lures us in, captures us, and is so sticky, it becomes nearly impossible to escape.
- It entangles us. Ensnares us. Traps us.
Social Media and our Spiritual Life
- Can you go without media, without being connected to friends and family, without getting jittery and anxious?
- Can you say the same about praying to God or thinking about God?
- Does being cut off from social media make you feel like you are missing out?
- Social Media stokes our appetite for attention and to be known and loved. “Friend” is now a verb “like” is now a noun.
- Facebook does not discriminate between our intimate friends and family, interests, and news. Friends become “fans” and we become “brands”.
- We consume info and manage relationships/connections in ways we never could face-to-face with people.
- It’s all facilitated by a corporate entity that is harvesting all our data and the info of our lives.
- We have commodified relationships. Friends and family…with ads.
- Our system of friends unbound by time or location.
- Physical location is not as important. We don’t have to be present to be considered present.
- And at the center… it’s not a location, cause, or common identity- but rather the individual- that is at the heart of social media.
- On-demand social connectedness. We control and manage others access to us. Don’t like you…block you.
- Dialed down human contact. Guard against commitment. Autonomy vs. Belonging.
- Insensitive to surroundings- we are not able to be present, while we are face down in our smart phones or iPads.
- We don’t have to look up and see the messy people around us…we see the “digitized perfect reality” of those somewhere else.
- Physically far away from those who are near. – We excuse ourselves from the call of God whom we serve and the situation/circumstances of those around us.
- Are we missing something…not actively connecting mind and spirit?
- Ignoring people…God’s creation. People that Jesus died for.
- Christian community requires real presence- with real people with real differences.
- People who are not like us. People with needs. Broken people, unattractive people, people who will put demands on us, people who require attention, who require our time.
- This is at odds with social media- all choice, efficiency, control.
Technology and Discipleship
- Is technology is more than just a tool?
- It shapes us and embeds itself into our social practices.
- The new etiquette allows technology bleed into every aspect of our lives.
- What does sacrifice, servant-heartedness, or selflessness look like on-line?
- What does sacrifice or servant-heartedness look like surrounded by Google or Facebook ads?
People as Channels
- We have all the technology we need to ignore those physically around us/near us… and feel we have a good reason to do so.
- We don’t join as a family or jointly with our spouse— we have to join individually and participate individually.
- When we go to church or small group we are with people…When we go online…we are alone…even when surrounded by people.
- Typically we express an idealized reality of our lives….not the painful dirty reality of our lives.
- We let people in, but we manage them via privacy settings.
- It’s the digital veneer that we project…not the raw reality of our needs, pain, and hurts.
- We have turned people into media channels that we tune in, turn off, mute, or ignore.
God vs. Social Media
Think about your time with God and with people.
- Do you have push yourself to carve out time to pray, read, meditate, and connect with God?
- Do you have to push yourself to stop and make time for people…messy people with messy problems?
- Do you constantly, almost without thinking pray, reach out to God, and reach out to others.
- Does it require effort?
Think about your time online.
- Do you have to push yourself to go online, Like, Friend, Tweet, post…to disappear into your screen and the web of social media.
- Do you constantly, almost with no effort go into your online into social media?
- Is it easy? Maybe to easy?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
…Does social media help you do this?