It’s social media week here at thedaysman, partly because I’m helping host a conference on campus: @Jesus: Finding the Truth in a Digital World.
Speakers were careful to say that social media itself is not the problem. And the solution, we heard several times, is to be more intentional.
Quentin Schultze, author of Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age, suggested several reasons this is difficult. Our time is inadequate, our will is insufficient, our abilities are incomplete and our desires are corrupted.
That means when we use Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media tool, the effects are not always what we intended.
This happens in real life too, of course. But online it may be amplified. It becomes easier to exclude others, or invade their privacy, or to overload our lives with more contacts or information than we can manage.
A sort of “cultural Attention Deficit Disorder” results, which keeps us from being as intentional in relationships as we should be, or want to be.
Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith (review to follow), called this the “dark shadow” of social media. And being aware of it is a good beginning.
We need something more practical than awareness, however. And I liked what Nate Evans, one of our tech guys, said in a panel called “Gen Y logs on.”
“I try not to say anything on Twitter or Facebook that I wouldn’t say to someone sitting in my living room.”
It’s a good rule, and addresses what the problem with social media actually is: the distance it creates, the anonymity it suggests, and the freedom it allows, all of which are merely illusions.
Because words are real.
It’s easy to forget what Jesus said, that our words flow out of the abundance of our heart. And it’s easier still to forget it online.
It’s easy to forget.
But it is dangerous to do so.