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Social media is ruining my social life

Q: Dear Pastor, Social media ruined my social life. Do you think it’s a positive or negative force in the modern world?

A: That is a fabulous question and one I ponder constantly. I’ve written many articles about various forms of the social media question. It’s a toss-up regarding what our connectivity is doing to us.

Like anything, there are huge pros and cons. I know pastors who feel we will one day look back on Facebook and view it like cigarettes — that we didn’t know the extent of the damage until it was ingrained in society and had become a plague on our health and wellness. I know other pastors, usually the mega-church kind, who feel that social media is a fabulous tool for the Gospel and a lightning-speed way of getting the Good News to the ends of the earth. They believe it helps fulfill the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16)

Regardless, I do have a strong opinion on one component of it: How we get to the social media platforms (mainly cell phones) surely must be damaging us. A quick study on cell phone paraphernalia will explain that the whole thing works on magnets and signals. These invisible, magnetic pulses pass through the air, through our homes and hands and heads and eyeballs as we behold the phone, gazing for hours at its hypnotic light.

Science has not yet proven out the effects of constant, strong, magnetic energy piercing us all day long, but it cannot be good. Do you own an Apple watch? The thing is glued to your arm; infusing your body chemistry with electronic data. Sounds great, huh? And the physiological aspect is only one component here.

The generation coming up now is already struggling to communicate in person, so undeveloped, lacking or non-existent are their social skills in this epidemic called “Social Media.” Young people under the age of, let’s say 20, rarely know how to shake hands, make eye contact, talk quietly together in a coffee shop, discuss, debate, or unplug (from anything.) It’s scary, really.

Many over-50 types are thinking these thoughts but are regularly shouted down as clueless fuddy-duddies when a negative comment about social media is made.

Edwardian-era dowagers were scoffing at electric lights, too, and were proven wrong about their fears. Perhaps my comments are off-base? I’d love it to be true.

We must also look at the decay of the banter appearing on these so-called social media venues. Countless stories abound regarding cyber-bullying, fabricated lifestyles and imaginary personas that craft psychological disorders, strange afflictions of the mind (and emotions) and spawn tragedies. It is simply too easy to launch filter-less diatribes of hate, innuendo, slander and verbal abuse inside what used to be called “chat rooms.” (Remember those?)

Cowards of the couch, folks may now sit in the comfort of their digital boudoir and ruin people’s lives with an instantaneous click of a button and a turn of phrase. Removed from the conversational necessities of body language and facial expressions, they do it day after day without ever experiencing the conviction of a face-to-face encounter with a human soul. Yet the Bible still warns: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” (Luke 6:31, MEV.) Social media in the hands of mean people is like a scalpel in the hands of three-year-old.

What are we to do? Make choices, like always. Choose wisely how you spend your time; honor the Lord and steward your hours on earth as if they were fleeting. (Here’s a tip: they are.)

Think before you speak. Give people the benefit of the doubt before you launch your digital weaponry. Holster that mouse and stylus. Put the phone down.

Or better yet, remove Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter from your life. I have. And I wouldn’t change that decision for the world. It forces me to actually call and spend time speaking to my relatives coast-to-coast; hear the inflections of their voice and treasure their laughter. I recommend it.

Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana: send inquiries to heavenchasepub@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.