Social Media and Christianity - Part 2

Over the last couple of weeks I have discussed the topic of social media with a few different groups. It has been interesting to note that almost every group is concerned about some aspect of social media. But, more importantly, that most people had not previously to our conversation given in-depth consideration to the effects of social media on their lives. In this post, I would like to discuss a few of the dangers that we discussed.

Echo chamber: Social media is an echo chamber where we are only confronted with our own ideas. These platforms are designed so that we mostly see the stuff we are interested in. If another person is offensive to you they can simply be blocked without any more interaction with them.  This gives us the impression that everybody agrees with us and removes the possibility of being challenged meaningfully on our own views. The greatest effect, however, is that it polarizes people making a toxic environment for any sort of mutual understanding of disparate groups.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18).
Highlight reel: Typically what we post for public consumption is a highlight reel of our lives. It depicts how we want to be perceived regardless of the underlying reality. This can leave others envious of our lives or cause us anxiety that we need to live up to the standard we have set. Also, does this not walk the line of boasting?
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2)
Wasting time: We lead such busy lives or at least that is what we say, but if on average we can spend 2.4 hours on our phone we might not be as busy as we think. Think about how much you can do in 2.4 hours? Some might argue that often we are multi-tasking for those hours, and if that is the case, that is a lot of time to partially distracted by our phones. Imagine how much we could do if we were not distracted!?
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15).
The discussions I had with people did not just centre around the negative aspects of social media, we also talked about the advantages of staying in contact with people and sharing the gospel. But, most agreed that advantage was limited, since most people we would not keep in touch with anyway and it is very hard to share the gospel without a personal discussion and in person contact.

From a Christian perspective, the use of social media falls into the discernment category. Depending on one's inclinations, social media may or may not be a stumbling block. However, to not think it has an impact is naive at best. What does wasting time in an echo chamber of our own highlight reels do to us? Can it not help but make us more selfish, arrogant, envious, and/or ineffectual in our calling?

I would be glad to hear other perspectives on this topic, so that I can understand it more fully. Please comment. 


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