We live in a virtual world inundated with technological devices and social networking sites that afford us opportunities to speak with people both near and far. You could have a conversation from someone halfway across the world, and all from within the comfort of your own home.
When we want to talk to someone, there are multiple ways in which to do so. I could write on your Facebook wall, or for the sake of privacy, send you a message. Or I could “tweet” on Twitter. The thing is, it doesn’t even stop there. I could message you on Google +, text you, BBM you (for Blackberry users), or we could even enter into a Skype exchange. Decades ago, if someone wanted to speak to you, they would have to go to your actual house…or tent, as was the case in Biblical times.
According to a report released by Media Technology Monitor, two out of three Canadians use social media in one form or another, with almost half of the population having joined social media sites. Furthermore, it has been reported that one in three Canadians do not go a single day without checking social media trends.
If you want to know what I am about, without even talking to me, you could do so through the various methods these social networking sites offer. In Facebook terms, when you peruse someone’s profile page, this is known as “creeping”.
There are over 500 social networking sites, and it seems as if every year that goes by, there is another social networking site. One would think that this would certainly make us better at social interaction, right?…Sadly, this may not be the case. In 2012, Medical News Today released a study showing that Facebook use may feed anxiety and increase a person’s feeling of inadequacy, and a study released last year from the University of Michigan found that using Facebook may actually make us more miserable. Numerous other studies have demonstrated the clear link between one’s emotions (which are often significantly worsened) and incessant social media use.
There is certainly something missing here. With all of these ways to get in touch, we seem to be further apart than ever from each other. It appears these sites have failed to teach us one thing: How to reach the heart.
When we see one’s status on Facebook, we like it. Maybe you saw that one of your friends graduated, or was recently married. Or perhaps a mother has posted a photo of her new baby. Sometimes, it is as simple as someone posting their latest creation in the kitchen; an enticing dish enough to make you want to lick your computer screen. You like it all.
Yet, think for a moment. What do we do in those moments that are not so likable? Does Facebook have a button for this one? Do I like when someone loses a loved one? Or when someone is battling a life-threatening illness? (if they even decide to post about it). What does the response call for now? Do we perhaps ever consider that in those moments, we may need to do a little more than just like a status? Or for that matter, even simply commenting fails the personable touch. Can you wipe their tears through the computer screen? Hug them? Offer a word of comfort or prayer?
Don’t get me wrong. At times, it is not possible to be physically present when someone is in need. Also, I know that so many of us are busy, and such a quick response helps us keep in touch, without too much effort on our part. Yet, this is crazy to me. Should we really think about how to do the least possible in our relationships? Isn’t the point that we should be demonstrating the real and personable love of Christ in all of our interactions?
What would Jesus Do?
Would Jesus content Himself with just sitting at home, and engaging with others from there? Constantly, we see that the Saviour went above and beyond to reach others who were in need. I wonder how the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well would have went, had Jesus decided to physically remove himself.
He invested in others, in fact, that was His whole life — His whole being. There was not one minute when He was not seeking to “speak a word in season to [one] that is weary”. (Isaiah50:4). And He is calling us to do the same. To reach beyond the confines of our virtual prisons, and help those who are in need. When one is hurting and in their lowest point, what they need is your love, not your like.
I am not knocking the use of social networking. It surely has its advantages. It is such a blessing to be able to engage with people from different places all over the world through many different mediums, and I always love re-connecting with people from my past, that I have not seen in years. I also know that at times, one can receive great comfort from a comment left on their wall, letting them know that they are being prayed for.
What I am merely saying is that we need to think outside the box. It should not be right for us to do as little as possible to reach out, without actually ever reaching out. And if I can’t even have a dinner conversation with you, without you looking at your phone every five seconds to check your Facebook feed, there is a problem.
Also, it is not right for us to depend on these social mediums for gratification. No, my worth is not based on how many “likes” I get on my latest status. And it is surely not dependent on how many “friends” I have on Facebook, half of whom I don’t even speak to. Think carefully the next time you post something on Facebook. Do you really have to post a new photo of yourself every five minutes? Ask yourself, are you seeking approval from others? Is there an unmet need within you, that you are secretly hoping will be met by the attention you receive? Is this feeding into my prideful spirit?
Now don’t go saying I said to delete your Facebook account, unless you have been impressed to do so. These social networking sites can all be used in an appropriate way, to truly connect with others. For example, if you see that someone has posted a status about a struggle they are personally going through, why not call them? Or strive to offer comfort through these online interactions, by pointing people to Christ. Sometimes it is as simple as posting a scripture of encouragement on their wall, or on your time-line.
Let us not seek to satisfy our aching desires through any of these online mediums. When Jesus recognized that the Samaritan woman at the well, was crying out for help, He pointed her to Him, and the gift that only He could offer: “…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)
Now, here’s a man that truly knows how to reach the heart. I like this.
1. Faber, Helen. “Canadian Social Media Statistics 2013.” WebFuel. 14 Aug. 2013. Web. <https://www.webfuel.ca/canadian-social-media-statistics-2013/>.
2. Oliveira, Michael. “One-third of Canadians Don’t Go a Day without Checking Social Media: Survey.” The Globe and Mail. 29 Apr. 2013. Web. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/digital-culture/one-third-of-canadians-dont-go-a-day-without-checking-social-media-survey/article11607311>.
3. Whiteman, Honor. “Social Media: How Does It Really Affect Our Mental Health and Well-being?” Medical News Today. 16 Apr. 2014. Web. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275361.php>
Copyright: bizoon / 123RF Stock Photo
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