5.23.2014

Social Media's Disconnect 2 - Truth and Love

Some more thoughts on social media and how truth and love relate to each other...

Love requires knowledge - and not just any knowledge, relational knowledge.  In this way, social media is untruthful.

In Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, Claudio believes Hero to be unfaithful because of something he saw (visual knowledge), while Beatrice knows Hero to be innocent because of the type of person she knows Hero is (relational knowledge).  Both of them have some sort of knowledge about Hero.  For Shakespeare the knowledge that Beatrice has (relational) proves to be the more reliable than Claudio's knowledge (sight), since Hero is not guilty of any unfaithfulness.

This is true for Paul as well as the mirror (visual) is no replacement for face-to-face, which is a metaphor for being in a relationship.  See Exodus 33:11 where Moses is face-to-face with YHWH.  He knew God - not in the studied up sense, but in the relational sense.

But is a truthful relationship possible on social media?  To use Paul’s analogy, is the relationship going to be “face-to-face” or done through a dim mirror?  I don't know about you but I would be appalled if someone thought they knew me from my Facebook profile.  I once had a pastor tell me, after reading my CV, that he felt like he "knew me" because of my time in YWAM, I told my wife that he was going to be sorely disappointed.

Truth is, we depict our lives through Social media as we choose to, not how it actually happens - much like a CV we let the good parts shine through and limit the negatives.  We are actively (whether we know it or not) editing our lives to promote a positive image.  You do it, I do it.  And the few people who don't do it are promptly deleted from friends lists and complained about.  The humdrum of a boring job - cut - the fight with the spouse - cut - the cool movie  - post - going to that movie alone, and feeling depressed about it - cut.  It gives others the impression that everyone else has the ideal life.  The Atlantic ran an article about depression and Facebook citing a link between feelings of loneliness and the amount of time one spends on Facebook.  You are (partly) responsible for making most your friends on Facebook feel inadequate! We are not (relationally) truthful on social media.  
Facebook sets us up for impossible standards and as a result, depressing us when we can't meet those standards.  And gives us an image of our 'friends' that does not actually represent reality.

Technology has left us disconnected from the truth, about our relationships, about the things we eat and see, even about ourselves.  This is actually quite distressing, since Love requires knowledge and what kind of Love will we have for someone when our perception of them is based on a curated website, edited and up kept.


I keep coming back to 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 it is the face-to-face encounters which build love.  Paul acknowledges this even while saying it in a letter.  To know someone is not the same as knowing how to drive or knowing the multiplication table.  Relational knowledge is of utmost importance, and we are losing it to social media.