What is wrong with social media?
For lack of an immediate answer to this question at that time, I succumbed to the instinct of a true-blooded millennial and went to Mr. Google. What he gave me was a list of blogsites that feature psychologists trying to answer questions from concerned parents who are claiming that their children are getting addicted to social media. One sad story leads to the next, one question similar to the other. There were too many answers given but what I really got was an affirmation of the alarming exposure of our generation to social media, and how technology is being overused, if not misused by many. It happened too fast. I remember having a friendster account when I was in college, which I only get to access during my vacant time in school from a Windows 97 computer. Years later, smartphones were the next thing, people started editing photos using apps, and Yahoo Messenger had been forgotten. Facebook boomed like crazy, Instagram followed, not to mention Skype, Viber, Facebook Messenger and a whole lot more. All that is required is an iPhone or Android Phone and you’re good to go. Everybody “stays connected,” as Facebook puts it. It has always been technology’s role to make things easier people. Entertainment just comes next. These days, connecting with people is a must. This is probably why in a world that’s becoming bigger and more complicated, we run to technology to secure our own space in the circle. We want to be in the motions, right on top of the waves of changing trends and culture, trying to stay afloat for fear of being left out on the shore disconnected and alone. Or maybe we found a friend in technology itself, so dear a friend that we retreat to it for comfort after a bad day, we desperately search for it when we feel alone, and we plug a big part of our lives into it as if it has our ticket to the world. But could it be that we have made technology THE world and instead of getting connected through it, we get lost IN it? If you ask me, I’ve had many of those moments that made me realize I have gone too far and got lost.
The countless times when I bring my phone with me on the dining table, stealing precious moments that should have been for my parents.
Those times when I’m creating memories with friends but instead of conversing with them, my head’s busy thinking of a perfect status to post #AtTheMoment.
Those mornings when I give in to the urge of checking my Facebook account without realizing I’ve spent more time scrolling my newsfeed than praying.
And many more times when I missed precious moments, ignored many people, and dismissed more important things for some few–or many taps on the phone. Yes, I am guilty. Maybe in one way or another, we all are. Let me clear though that we might have different stories. This is not to say that everyone is a slave to technology, but I believe we are all prone to being one.
Now what is wrong with social media? I still don’t have a ready answer. It might even be acceptable to say that there is nothing wrong with social media or technology in general. “Acceptable” because it all depends on how we let technology work for us. After all, cellphones wouldn’t even function without batteries. Technology is a product of this modern world, but it will never be useful–or misused– without a user. So maybe the problem is not the phones or the stylish tablets in the market. It’s not a matter of whether we have social media accounts or not, or whether Mark Zuckerberg made a good decision of inventing Facebook. So where then lies the answer? Perhaps we can find it in a place Google can never reach–our hearts.
In one of his sermons, Pastor John Piper regarded the human heart as a thirst factory. We all thirst for many things: affirmation, attention, recognition, the need to feel accepted and loved. We thirst even for tangible things. With technology, we can share our lives to the whole world including our deepest longings and hurts, and find consolation in knowing that we are not alone. Sometimes we regard it as a space where we can create our own happiness or where we find short term entertainment. But in relying on something so temporary and perpetually changing as technology/ social media/ virtual friends to satisfy us, we might be losing sight of the true source of joy who promised to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger. We might be forgetting that even if most of the time we feel alone in this world, Someone actually stays with us and will never abandon us and we can connect to Him anytime without getting rejected, ignored, seenzoned. We might be failing to see what He is giving us by grace each day because we’re busy measuring up our lives with bucket lists. We might not realize how the relationships He has blessed us with could suffer everytime we settle for virtual interaction than warm conversations in flesh. We might lose precious time with loved ones who would have known Jesus more if only we were more present in the real world and more sensitive of their needs. That person in front of us could have even brought us closer to His feet if we were just searching for joy at the right place. Somewhere between the real world and the world inside our phones we might be losing many things including our view of what is truly significant in light of eternity, and overlook to the point of ignoring the incomparable relationship we have (or could have) with Christ. We couldn’t afford to lose these things.
As God’s stewards, where we invest our resources–our time, talents, and possessions matter. It tells where our treasure truly is and where our heart goes. If I did a quick treasure check a few years back, I would probably not like where my heart followed. It would definitely not be on the things of God, at least not the whole of it. Yes, its not always easy to accept the truth about our tainted hearts. But in repentance, we can ask and trust God to create in us a pure one. We can ask Him to prune and cut off branches that do not bear fruit and to fill us in. For nothing and no one can satisfy more than Jesus. “I am the bread of life,” he says. He has given us–and we can take this literally–His all: He offered His own blood to redeem us from sin and gave us a new life and eternity. And that Day will come when all of us will stand before His judgement seat, each of us giving an account of ourselves to God. Believing in this truth, we find a more important question: Are we investing and making use of our time, energy, talents, wealth, possessions in light of that Day? Are we becoming good stewards of technology for the One who gave His all for us? What does our heart truly desire everytime we pick up our phones and gadgets?
Randy Alcorn, author of the book The Law of Rewards, points it well: “What you do with your resources in this life is your autobiography. The book you’ve written with the pen of faith and the ink of works will go into eternity unedited, to be seen and read as is by the angels, the redeemed, and God himself. When we view today in light of the long tomorrow, the little choices become tremendously important.”
As millennials today and reward bearers in the long tomorrow, may the choices we make in our lives and with our gadgets lead us, point us, and bring us always to Him.
For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Carmela Ann Santos, TLW Volunteer
Mel is a lover of written words, kids, and education. She values her faith, family, and her personal time. She dreams of writing a book, doing an interview with Mike Shinoda, and building her bookstore someday. Her favorite topics are faith, love, and others. She finds happiness seeing her loved ones happy. She wants to retire as a mobile teacher and spend the remaining days of her life in Batanes. Read more about her Writing Life at http://carmelameyla.wordpress.com