Social Media affects everything. It is everywhere in our world:
- at home,
- at the store,
- at school,
- at restaurants,
- at work, and
- in our pockets.
Social media is with us and around us all the time. The truth is…IT IS AFFECTING US! But how? The social media gurus want us to think that social media is strictly positive, and great for everyone and everything. They want us to think that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and texting) are all about building relationships and passing on information.
But is social media really causing us to relate more and give good information? If we are honest with ourselves, I think we can all say we have at least once felt, that while we are overly connected by social media, there is still an underlying feeling of being alone, depressed, and unconnected. In light of this reality, we will take the next 5 weeks here at Preacherontherun to examine how social media affects us. We will look at 5 areas in which social media affects our views: relationships, words, time, self, and truth. Today we start with Social Media: How it affects our view of Relationships.
Genesis 1:26-28 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.” From the very beginning of creation, God made us to be relational beings. It is a reflection of Him. Take for example the pronoun God uses in verse 26–“us”. God always exists in relationship (the doctrine of the trinity) and man is made in God’s image. So the need for relationship is naturally within our fibers as human beings. We are made to be in relationships.
Social media is based on this reality. And Social media is all about relationships, right? – I mean we have friends, followers, fans, and groupies. Everything we do on social media is about relationships. Whether it is having a friend on Facebook, a follower on Twitter, or a co-worker on LinkedIn; the social media world claims to be all about relationships. But we must understand what a relationship is.
“Relationship” defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary is “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other”. According to that definition social media is all about relationships. But how does social media affect our relationships? Or better yet what type of relationships are those social media relationships? Let me give you an illustration from my own life.
I was sitting at home with my wife, Bethany, one Sunday night and she wanted to listen to an audiobook together to relax. So what do I do? Naturally, what anyone would do who was not into the audiobook, but still wanting the relationship time with Bethany – I picked up my iPad and got on Facebook and ESPN! However, later that night Bethany expressed to me that it made her somewhat upset, because although I was there and “relating” with her, I really was not there and relating with her at the same time.
This is just a small illustration of the larger problem of how social media affects our relationships. If someone is talking to you and you are in a deep conversation and then a third person comes up and just butts right in talking about something of no value (say pokemon) how would you respond? – You may be upset at that person, as if they are devaluing and hurting the relationship you had with the person with which you were talking. But how often do we do that with our cell phones and social media? – In the middle of a conversation, our phone buzzes, beeps, rings, or chimes and what do we do? Look away from the person we are talking with because of a simple buzz, beep, ring, or chime. We devalue the current relationship because of the virtual relationship with someone not even in the room.
The problem with these virtual relationships comes back to Genesis. God told us in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good that man be alone. It was not good that Adam be alone. God was giving Adam and Eve both a partner, a real live relationship. God gave each of them a real life person to cling to so that they may grow and work together. And God has given us the same type of relationships. The first of which is the family (Genesis 2:24). God has placed us in families to have foundational relationship, but also to learn how to relate well. The second relationship God has given us is the church (Romans 12:10, 16). God has given us other believers to live in harmony together…to relate with one another.
God designed us to be in these relationships, but social media fools us to think we are in these when we are not. Think about where you do most of your “relating” on social media – alone, in your bedroom, bathroom, car, etc. The times you are on your phone or computer relating with others, is actually time you are away from others on your own!
As I argued from the beginning, social media affects everything. And one of the major areas of our lives and thinking it affects is in our relationships. Social media has changed the way we relate as well as which relationships we value most. But above all the final question must be: are we utilizing our social media to build relationships with people to share Jesus Christ or just fill our need to feel like we are relating?