Is Facebook and Social Media Killing Our Souls?
Recently I was asked by a friend, “why haven’t I seen you on Facebook lately?” A very good question considering that I would have typically posted 1-2 times a day, plus tweeted 2-3 times a day, Google +’d and posted for my various businesses or causes another 3-4 times a day.
You see, I was beginning to have a little bit of a problem. So much of a problem that one day at home my 7 year old son asked me with all sincerity, “Dad, are cell phones really important?” Caught red handed! My heart sunk – I felt not only an instant guilt but shame and regret along with gratitude for my son to be that honest with me. He didn’t know it but God was using him to get through to me.
I immediately set my phone down and said, “Wow, I am so sorry that I have let you think that. No son, they are not important… you are important.”
What I had no idea was that I was killing my own soul and I was settling for less than God’s best for me and my relationships at home. Honestly, who gives a crap about what some stupid politician or sports star said? Or, (sorry for the candor) about how you are feeling today through some idiotic e-card. Why in the world would I care more about pictures of everyone else’ kids, meanwhile my kids are in the same room as me and I am completely disconnected with them? Or why would I “Like” pictures of your family vacation while my kids sit in the other room watching TV?
I have a problem and I think many of us share in this dangerous “hobby.” Facebook and social media in general are slowly killing our souls!
Really, Facebook and other social media outlets provide us a sort of personal Public Relations machine that allows us to spin or fool everyone (including ourselves) into thinking we have value. It is that place where we can let the whole world know stuff about us that may or may not be true at all, so we can feel ok with ourselves. If I looked simply at the lives of friends on Facebook I might be tempted to believe that everyone is extremely happy, living perfect lives or on the other hand completely miserable. Wherever the truth may be – if I really cared I would pick up the phone and spend time with them.
The reality is that most of our posts are subtle cries for help and connectedness. We long to be connected to people in a real, loving and unconditional way and yet we settle for this false connection over what is offered to us through our loved ones and most important through God.
Social Media is not only killing my soul but the collective soul of our families, communities and nation. We are teaching our children that this is what it means to be “connected.” Our world doesn’t even realize there is so much more then what is seen and “experienced” online. I don’t have enough time to mention the wasted time & loss of production at work and social good that could be accomplished.
Now, social media is not all bad. Frankly I do like being alerted about birthdays and special events. And I do like being able to “check in” on people I used to be close to. But sadly I am not really connected or close at all but I can lie to myself and say things like, “yeah, we stay connected.” Have you ever ran into a Facebook friend in real life? It’s kinda awkward isn’t it? “Oh hey… how are you? I noticed you have 3 kids now and work at…” It’s like you know them but you don’t. Maybe you even avoid the conversation at all because you know it will be uncomfortable. We save those interactions for cyberspace – much more comfy there and less is required.
So I shared with my friend who had asked why I had not been around Facebook lately that I had felt like social media (not just Facebook) was killing my soul. I also shared with him that I felt compelled to make some small but significant changes. Here is what I decided for myself. I am not advocating these changes for you, simply giving you food for thought for those who feel like me.
If you feel your soul slowly dying and want more for your relationships then here is what I would suggest…
1st: Remove Facebook and Twitter from your phone. This has helped me stay present with my kids and my wife and to avoid the constant checking my phone for what is “happening.” If you want to experience real life… check in with what is happening right in front of you. What I found is that the less I checked and obsessed that I haven’t missed anything of real value. Compare this to the countless hours of missed opportunities with people who know, love and long to have my full attention.
2nd: Limit your exposure. I try to “check in” once a day to make sure I haven’t missed something important. However, try to even take a day or two off and see how you feel. Like I said, it’s not all bad, but healthy limits are necessary for all relationships and this is no different. People don’t need to know that much about your life and you really don’t need to know everything about everyone else’ life. This also helps with feelings of competition or comparison. What we are doing to our souls is the equivalent of women who look at magazines full of perfectly airbrushed women with perfect bodies, hair and teeth. We watch our friends and wonder, “Why isn’t my life as good as theirs?” Trust me, what you see is not real whether in a magazine or on Facebook – sorry to break the bad news!
*Now if you find compulsive and destructive behavior surrounding your use of social media, then it may be necessary to treat it as an addiction and just remove it from your life completely and get the necessary help to find recovery.
3rd: Replace the counterfeit with the real thing! There is no substitute for the real thing. Honest, loving, fun interaction with those you love the most will never leave your soul feeling empty. If you simply remove social media from your life but do not replace it with loving and real relationships then you may still feel an emptiness which may lead you to look for other destructive vices to cope with life. If I might suggest a first step it would be to invest in a relationship with God. There is NO substitute for the loving grace of God to make our other relationships even more healthy, strong and satisfying.
So what do you think? Has Facebook and other forms of social media killed your soul? Do you feel more or less connected having used Facebook? Now, if you are really courageous, ask your spouse or closest relationships if they feel like you are distracted and disconnected because of social media?
I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let’s “connect”… just not while other more important relationships need attention.