An article in the February 9th issue of America by Jeffrey J. Maciejewski, a professor in the department of journalism, media and computing at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, entitled “Whom Do You Follow” caught my attention. The subtitle was “Christian life in the age of Facebook and Twitter.”
Mr. Maciejewski begins by comparing today’s concerns about social media to the concerns that were raised in the 1970s about how advertising was driving people to want more than they needed, covet other people’s property, and seek a lavish life style. The cautions then were basically to keep God and others before things in our life if we wanted to live a truly Christian life.
He then went on to point out that in the past 30 years our lives have changed dramatically with the introduction of the Internet, personal computers, smart phones and social media. A new set of dangers emerged–not so much wanting things, but becoming self-absorbed in online interactions. He quotes studies showing that the neurological stimulation that comes from social media and the possibility of “micro-celebrity” contribute to social media addictions and promote self-absorption. These are obstacles to living a fully Christian life
The author does not advocate abandoning social media, but rather reminds us that it is a tool for communicating and connecting that needs to be in line with our desire to love God first and our neighbor as ourselves.
The author makes his points, but I think he was a little heavy on the negative. Nearly 75% of this article was on dangers that two aspects of culture present to living the Christian life: advertising (25%) and social media (50%). The remaining 25% was on how to protect oneself from the dangers of social media which he summed up in keeping the two Great Commandments while using it.
Personally, I would like to add more detail to using social media for good. Certainly, we can use it to keep up with family, friends and associates, especially those at a distance. We can also use it to be a positive force in the world. We can use it to add our voices to causes that are important to us such as respect for life, immigration reform, an end to human trafficking, and responsible care for our planet. We can use it to encourage, console, support, and offer our prayers for those in need. We can use it to spread the Good News and stories of courage, generosity and self-sacrifice that have inspired us. We can also use it for fun—to initiate or join conversations or threads about things we enjoy: sports, entertainment, books, nature, hobbies, etc. We can use it to learn about new things and other cultures. We can use it to be a friend/minister to people all around the world.
Yes, social media can be a danger or distraction to the Christian life, but it can also be a channel for good. It is up to each individual to determine what it will be for them.
Here is the link to the article if you would like to read it yourself. http://americamagazine.org/issue/whom-do-you-follow
I welcome your comments on my comments.