Technology; Social Media; & Momento Mori
Today’s children in the western world will not remember life without cell phones, social media, and instant access to information. Go to any school, workplace, casual setting, or even house of worship, and you are almost guaranteed to see a smart phone out and in use. People use their phones to pass the time, to avoid human contact, to seem busy when they are not. This activity is now being displayed by children, who have the dangers of the internet at the tips of their fingers. There has always been distraction in our world, but none as (ironically) isolating as social media on cell phones. It has been shown time and time again that Facebook is addictive. If you disagree, then prove us wrong by deleting your account. Did that thought just make your heart sink? I have a better idea: Instead of deleting your account, I challenge you to at least ask yourself: how much time have I spent on Facebook compared to time in prayer, scripture, and the contemplation of holy things?
I’m ashamed to say, that I have spent many days of my precious time scrolling through feeds that did nothing to help my soul or spiritual growth. I’ve spent hours posting and commenting on things that I can no longer remember, but that seemed important at the time. I’ve fished for “likes,” and experienced the bizarre bliss upon receiving them. Last year I realized that I had an addiction to Facebook, and although I was consistently trying to post things that were spiritually fulfilling, it was not adding to my spiritual fulfillment. My attempt at making my profile a place of holiness was futile, and I realized that it was time for a change. My personal solution was to exchange my profile for new a profile that is, for the most part, devoid of newsfeed distraction. I have only four close friends on it, and I use it almost exclusively for messaging them and distributing my blog posts. My real name is not on the account, nor is my real information. It is what I call a “burner account,” a.k.a. an account which I have no sentimental attachment to, one that I could delete at any time without any remorse whatsoever. If you think this is cheating, let me assure you: it’s not. This account is empty enough that I only log in on occasion and never out of habit. It’s about as addicting as a barrel of sand.
The first week or so without my Facebook was stressful. I found myself opening my computer, hitting the “F” and “enter” keys time and time again, only to realize that my account no longer popped up. It was hard to resist logging in, but by week two, I was no longer “programmed” in the way I had been for several years. Don't get me wrong, I was still missing Facebook, but I wasn’t constantly trying to log in. By the end of the month, to my amazement, I realized that I wasn’t missing social media nearly as much as I had been in those first weeks. Not only that, but my spiritual self began to reawaken in a new way. I began to write more, pray more, read more, and seek out personal time with friends more. Without social media, I felt a new need to be social—actually social. It helped me discover who my closest friends are, the ones who are there for me, who support me and aid me in my walk of faith.
We all make excuses to get on our phones and Facebook, (“It helps me stay in touch with distant family,” or “I only use it for photo storage”) which may or may not be true. If you are an adult, you have to be the honest judge of your computer usage and act accordingly. If you are a parent, you have to help your children understand how to approach technology as a developing Christian. The truth is, there is more time than there is life, and every moment of every day counts (whether or not we can see it). The adults will understand this better than their children, and the elderly understand it best of all. If you spend an hour on the web every day, you lose more than a day of your life to the internet every single month. There is nothing we can do to get that time back, and as creatures made in the image of God, our time is incredibly valuable.
Remember friends, you will die. Every second that passes is gone for good. As children of God, our calling is to worship Him, serve His people, and be in communion with the eternal body. While social media may not be inherently sinful, it is certainly being used for sinful propaganda, as well as being abused on a regular basis by many people—including believers. None of us wants to experience regret on our death beds, but when our time comes, I expect that many of us will wish that we had been better stewards of the life we were given. So fast from the things you use every day and prayerfully reconsider your habits in that time. Remember, it’s never too late to change…until it is.
“Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom.” ~ Psalm 90:12
“This life is not a joke or a plaything, but men turn it into a joke and plaything. The capricious play around with the time given to us for preparing for eternity; they play around with empty words. They gather together as guests, they sit and chatter and after that they sit and play this or that game. They gather in theatres, and they entertain themselves. All of life is amusement for them, but woe unto them that do nothing but entertain themselves.” ~St. John of Kronstadt
“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” ~Psalm 39:4-5
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” ~St. Irenaeus
“So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do.” ~ Ephesians 5:15-17