5.10.2014

Social Media's Disconnect

I get the honour of preaching in a couple weeks and I've decided to preach on Social Media since it is ubiquitous in western culture, has remained relatively unreflected on in both society and the church and I think it can become harmful.

My argument will be that - since social media and technology are not morally neutral - if they are used unreflectively - they will shape our character and morality.  This will result in being disconnected from Truth, Love and Physicality.  All three are both deeply connected and extremely important to the Christian faith.  Therefore Christians need to be diligent to ensure that Christ is transforming their character, not the technological society around them.

In this blog I will just focus on 2 aspects of how social media may disconnect us from Love.  This is by being both a distraction and a reflection.

Back in 1979, over 20 years before the iPod, Akio Morita, then the CEO of Sony, expressed concerns that his device would be used to foster isolation.  That device was the Walkman.  Now go on a bus, or anywhere, and nearly everyone not only has earphones or headphones on but are also staring at screens.  They are isolated from the world - and in their own world, oblivious to what's going on around them.  These devices are tuning out other people, fostering isolation and individualism.

As a distraction we are never truly present with the people who we are - physically - with.  Our phones or tablets beep and we answer - immediately.  Texts, Facebook, Twitter - often take precedence over what is happening in the places we are inhabiting, now.  People now live, communicate, and relate through their screens - however whether we can get past the screen to the person on the other side is doubtful.  There is much more to meaningful communication and human interaction then just plain text.  Therefore, we are sacrificing meaningful relationships for shallow ones.

As reflection, social media acts as an echo chamber to our own thoughts.  We surround ourselves with the people, organizations, publications and companies which exhibit the same principles, values and worldview as us.  We live happily with few or no contrarian opinion, the "whole world" is in agreement.  Over time we become stripped of our empathy and it becomes increasingly difficult to evaluate and relate to other people contrarian views and opinions.  We begin to lack the imaginative capacity of holding a view or belief that is different from our own.

We often think that this technology is reinforcing our relationships and helping to form close and meaningful bonds.  However, social media is often used - unintentionally - as a means of further isolation and increased individualism.  This means that it is cutting us off from true community and love.