Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Dangers of Social Media

We live in a day and age of technology, and while much of it is wonderful, there are things of which we need to beware.  Take, for example, social media.  How cool is it that we can chat with friends across the world, share our latest recipes, announce our big news and more at just the click of a button?  It's an awesome thing to be able to be in touch in such a way, yet we must not ignore the dangers of social media.

1) Distance - Yes, while we can chat with people on the other side of the world, it seems that social media is keeping people from spending time with those who are in the same room.  I've been to many family gatherings and other social events where a handful of people spent the entire time glued to their handy devices (be they phones, laptops, etc.).  And what were they doing?  Well, admittedly, some were playing video games, but most were scanning their social media pages.  What's happening on Facebook?  Does anyone on Twitter have anything interesting to say?  Ooh, look at all the new pins on Pinterest.  Meanwhile, friends and family are sitting in the very same room and being ignored.  If you haven't figured it out by now, this is a pet peeve of mine.  Why bother attending an event (even if it's a family gathering) if you're not going to participate but are instead going to spend all your time on social media?  You can do that anytime!  Put down the devices and engage with the people around you. (Thank you, and now I shall get off my soapbox.)

2) Distraction - I have to say that I'm guilty of this one because it's so easy to get sucked in.  I'll flip over to Facebook to post something or to spend just a few minutes catching up, and before I realize it, I've spent over an hour.  Do you have any idea how much writing I could get done in an hour?  There's nothing wrong with taking a few minutes out of the day to relax and check on the "status" of others in your life, but I encourage you to set a timer or find some other means to ensure that you don't spend more time than you need to.  After all, we have busy lives, and we're supposed to be busy about our Father's business.  We can't do that if we're spending all our time online.

3) Discontentment - This one is not quite as obvious as the other two, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous.  Social media is a breeding ground for discontentment.  Think about it, when Cousin Maggie shares the news about her upcoming marriage, and you start to feel sorry for yourself that you haven't found that special someone.  Or how about when Aunt Rhoda posts those pictures of the gourmet meal that she's prepared for her family, and you look over at your burnt pot roast and begin to grumble.  Then, of course, there's the success factor.  Your brother-in-law got the dream job while you're stuck in a rut.  A fellow author got a huge book contract and sold one million copies of her new release while you sit at home trying to figure out what you're doing wrong (you may just have to imagine on this one, but unfortunately, I understand it all too well).  Sam won the lottery.  Becky lost all the baby weight in record time.  If you boil it down, most social media posts are either rants about something or good news that has happened in someone's life.  And the more of that we take in, the more likely we are to begin to feel sorry for ourselves.  "Why doesn't stuff like that ever happen to me?"  Yes, the Bible says we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and that's easy to do for the first few posts, but if exposed to everyone's cheery news for too long, discontentment is bound to set in.

For fear of being misunderstood, let me stress again that I am not against social media.  I do not believe it is of the devil, and I know that--when used correctly--it can benefit the kingdom of God.  Social media can be a powerful outreach and a way to reach souls for Christ.  That being said, Satan has a knack of taking good things and making them bad.  Anything misused can cause trouble, and social media is no different.  All I am asking is that you be wary of how much of your life you invest on social media.  Are you ignoring the friends and family around you?  Are you distracted from your primary goals in life because you're glued to the screen?  Do you find yourself increasingly discontent with your lot in life?  If so, you may want to cut back on social media.  In fact, you may want to even cut it out for a while just to see what happens.  Use that extra time to pray, read the Bible or chat with someone nearby.  The possibilities are endless.  Will you take the challenge?

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. - I Corinthians 6:12

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