The other day a relative asked me how much time a day I spend on FB. It was an interesting question because I sensed within the question’s subtext an accusation – i.e. any time I spend on FB is too much. And since the topic of social media has been flying around the internet, I thought I would weigh in on its pros and cons.
For me, FB is like candy. It’s a treat and I find it enjoyable. However, if I eat too much of it, I start to feel sick. Thankfully, I don’t really have issues with chocolate and sweets. I can take a few nibbles and then move on with life. I prefer more substantial calories found in the real foods of meat, potatoes and vegetables. FB is similar. I like it but if I have serious writing to do, I don’t do anything but write. The phone is off. Likewise, at work the phone just isn’t part of the equation.
So is FB really so evil? Is it damaging us? Changing us? Destroying us? I think it all comes down to whether or not FB has become an idol. Any idol does reflect evil, damages us, changes us and has the potential to destroy us. I think more important, we have to ask, who and what is at the center of my life?
When I’m good with God, I’m good with FB and social media. When I’m off center and not as dialed in to God, FB starts to make me a little sick. T.V. is the same. Some of it is nice but most of it just leaves me feeling yuck so I choose a different diet.
I also think we must be realistic about what kinds of connections and “friends” we have on FB. Just because we post a lot on someone’s thread doesn’t mean we necessarily know him/her – on the other hand – we can develop and/or enhance pre-existing relationships through social media. But can we really be “friends” with everybody and have quality relationships plus time to take care of ourselves too? Of course not. In real time, the people who get my time, are those of my heart’s inner circle.
I will say though that for better or worse, social media is changing us. The other day, I was at a busy lunch place. I was sitting at a table waiting for a friend to come back from ordering food and as I looked around everyone in line (including my friend) was checking their phones. Likewise, a number of guests at the tables were too even if someone was sitting next to them. And for a minute I felt dismay that so many people could not bear a moment to just sit and stare, people watch or contemplate one’s navel – or talk to one another. Now this is not a judgment for if in a long line I too will often pull out my phone. Why not answer an email so that when I get home, I don’t have to? Or why not read the FB newsfeed as it can be entertaining and informative. But I do think we need to be conscious of whether we’re using social media or if it is using us. Is the tail wagging the dog or the dog wagging the tail?