We live in an age of social media. Like any tool there are banes and blessings in using it. Up to date and immediate information about your loved ones is a blessing. The trafficking in hate is a blight and bane.
Human ecologists have found that tools tend to change societies. Introduce farming tools into a nomadic people and in time they become farmers. It appears our media tools are changing us as a society. Already we are battling what some refer to as “digital distraction.” This distracting effect influences our dialogue as well as our driving.
There are good effects obtained from innovative tools as well. We all have stories to share and good news to spread. We each have journeys that can be instructive and inspirational to others. Having a global platform to broadcast these testimonies is tantamount to the miraculous.
As a pastor, my concern is not so much with the societal ill-effects of social media. Though, I do have concerns about what I call “performing arts syndrome.” Perhaps more on this in a later post. My concern is how we transfer the operating principles of social media to theological matters. Telling our story is one thing. Hearing The Story is quite another.
The essence of social media is the telling of one’s story; one’s journey. And if devotedly practiced it can easily become an obsession. This seems to have become all too prevalent even in Christian churches. So often we talk more about our experience of God than God’s experience on our behalf. The unfolding drama of the Bible is not directed to how “you can have your best life now.”
In this regard it is quite selfish. It is narcissistic. A devoted practitioner needs an audience for validation. One’s story can easily become an obsession. “Until I tell my story I have no meaning, no purpose, no import.”
Another, more personal effect, is what I would to refer to as a “performing arts syndrome.” Performers want an audience. It appears that social media operators must have audiences, as well, to validate their lives, it seems. People tell “their friends” everything. Is it validation? Or, perhaps, reverse voyeurism?