The Role of Social Media in our Lives and its Influence on our Faith

The social media has become a massive influence in the lives of millions of people, the world over and from all walks of life. We simply have to take cognizance of the vast amount of posts that get placed on Facebook everyday to see affirmation of this fact. Facebook is merely one site that gets utilized by the masses, not to mention a plethora of other sites like Twitter, Linked In, Flickr, Disaboom, Spinalpedia…. and the list goes on – there is at least one site for each letter of the English alphabet. Rather an astounding fact.

I have questions that are coming to the fore of my mind as a result of behaviours that are beginning to emerge amongst the many people I deal with on a day to day basis. Here is one scenario that I wish to highlight, obviously without mentioning names, but for the sake of integrity, the scenario is absolutely true.

Recently I took note that a number of people had de-friended me on Facebook. These are people that I have daily interaction and relationship with, on a one-to-one basis. All three of the people are related in some way or another and have associated interactions with people that I deal with in my work scenario. One of the people in question is very ill and in hospital, has been for nearly a month and a half. It is clear to me that one of my colleagues has paid this person a visit and perhaps extrapolated upon comments I have, at one time or another, made, taking them entirely out of context and, as such, planted a seed of massive animosity in the heart and mind of said sick and hospitalised person, resulting in this decision to un-friend me. Never, on any occasion, has any party approached ME for MY comment or so much as made an attempt at contextualising what may or may not have been said.

This picture now being painted, the question must arise in the mind of an intelligent person: How much value do we place in one-on-one humanistic relationships any longer? Are we simply living our lives out on a virtual platform and negating valuable interpersonal relationships that have played out for sometimes many years longer than the social media has been in existence? I am not saying that healthy and wonderful relationships cannot be cultivated on the basis of social media interaction – in fact, the contrary is true in my case – I have recently begun to develop incredibly meaningful and deep relationships with people that I have met through the social media…… Ryan, Robert and Jeff…. thank you for your invaluable input into my life….. I love you guys. What I am saying is that there seems to be an immature approach to actual relationships that gets played out through the various forms of social media.

This question now emerges in my consciousness….. “Based on actions and emotions that get enacted on forums of social media sites, as numerous as they are, are people inviting illness and an un-holistic approach to their own wellness into their realm of existence?”

In the instance of the scenario I have presented above, I believe firmly that my question holds water. This person has chosen to accept the statements of a gossip-mongering fool as truth, has in turn chosen to harbour feelings of extreme negativity toward me, sans qualification, and thereby played an intrinsic role in their own lack of healing and return to a place of holistic health.

One hears requests for prayer to act as an assistive measure to the intervention of modern medicine in such situations being brought to the table. My take on this is that no amount of prayer, nor medical intervention can be given any credence when, in the heart of a person, remains a spirit of unforgiveness and the inability to confront uncomfortable issues. Jesus addresses this very issue in Matthew 18:22. Unforgiveness will fester and will bring us to a place of absolute desolation, both in our spiritual lives and in the realm of our health and wellness.

I ask whoever has taken the time out to read this to please comment and contribute some further insight into this pressing and pertinent subject that I am certain has crossed the minds of others facing similar difficulty.

 

Advertisements

Posted on August 22, 2013, in Queer as Faith Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Graeme,

    Such an interesting topic. I know I’ve dealt with a similar social media issue and it came down to a conflict with being openly gay and friended by many in a non-affirming church social setting. And I saw the affect of being on friended begin to happen. In the end it showed me it just wasn’t the right fit for me to be in ministry with those that took my orientation or thing I post about it so seriously.

    But I’ve found that social media can be just as powerful positive of an influence in peoples lives when they do get involved. I’ve found that the facebook group we are apart has become an important part of my life – meeting new friends, getting a chance to lift someone up, or just saying hello, so people feel welcome. There are many powerful moments of people sharing the hardships of like and a community coming together to rally at someone’s needs.

    So, I’ve seen both the negative and positive outcomes – social media has become an integrated part of our lives around the world. And so, I take to heart what you’ve said about forgiveness. Sometimes having to much instant feedback can have can help to cause us to have negative social media experiences. Being able to move on and forgive has been my only option in the end and hopefully “grow” with the experience. I hope in your situation that you are able to find a peaceful and healing resolution.

    Hugs,

    Ryan

    • Ryan,
      Thank you so much for your insightful reply. I tend to agree with you insofar as us taking a standpoint of utilizing social media to enhance and grow rather than to break down and destroy.

      I, too gain a great deal from the membership to our group on Facebook, and often I rely on the humour and honesty that is expressed in that forum to get me through the tedium of any given day.

      I also take to heart what you say about the instant gratification mechanism that is afforded us through tapping into the realm of social media and am becoming increasingly aware of just how much credence must be granted to those people that simply approach the medium on voyeuristic terms.

      Furthermore, I feel that individuals on the level of those I raised in my article by way of example, will simply never attain to more than being slaves to gossip and depraved mind-sets, irrespective of the avenue by which such gossip be conveyed to them, one-on-one or social media.

      So, based on the wonderful response you raised to the platform, I will continue to seek out the positive people, not entertain the futility of the mindless and absolutely always express myself to those I have come to love in such a way as to engender growth and healing.

      God Bless you, my friend for the wisdom and understanding that you ALWAYS lighten my day with.

      Hugs
      Graeme

  2. Graeme –

    You bring up a wonderful and absolutely pertinent topic in today’s society. Having worked in Information Technology for more than 20 years, I have, on a daily basis, wondered for the last 15 years or more whether I do more harm than good in working with and promoting technology and computers. At first, I saw them as novel devices that suited a specific purpose. Back then, they were machines that were used for the benefit of their owner and then put away and turned off. They were also extremely expensive, and usually reserved for families that had a good deal of expendable income. Back in the day, I worked in television broadcasting, and PCs were networked together to write, produce, and direct newscasts and teleprompting. It was fun, yet very stressful, as when a machine would fail, an anchor would look very foolish on air. Veteran anchors always printed off their scripts just in case. Newbies would get the “deer in the headlights” look when the teleprompter would go down and fail on air in a spectacular manner. One morning at 4AM I was called in to fix the teleprompter and had a huge wad of paper thrown at me by the newbie anchor that made a fool of herself as she ran away crying.

    Fast forward 18 years… People call and text me late at night when they simply can’t print. Or, they call me if Netflix is not working, they can’t scan, forgot a password, etc. What REALLY gets me angry is when they say that they do not want to call any other tech support numbers because they don’t want to waste their time and can’t understand the tech trying to speak English anyway. Hello? THEY are getting paid to do this. Do you really expect me to spend my entire day doing this for you and others for free? Also, people will blow up my phone in a panic, and by the time I cancel something I had planned or rush over, they say, “No big deal. It went away, or I fixed it myself.” Seriously?

    Technology – computers, cell phones, social networking sites – they all have a place in today’s society. We all depend on them to some degree. But when we place our absolute importance on them working flawlessly is when we get into trouble. Technology will always fail us sooner or later. Ask the guy who never backed up his family’s pictures for 10 years and lost them all. Ask a housebound, disabled student attending school remotely if technology has ever failed on at least one occasion or another. The answer will always be yes.

    To be fair, each and every person in our lives will ultimately fail or disappoint us as well. I think perhaps that as human beings we have learned this and can forgive and forget in our human relationships. If we place someone we love on a pedestal, they will fall. But, we still love them anyway. Each of us to some degree is guilty and has personified some type of relationship with a computer, cell phone, video game, social networking site, etc. But, we must remember that each is a tool to be used for a specific purpose, rather than the end means itself. When we are texting while driving, laptopping during dinner when our partner is trying to talk with us, or rudely screaming on our cell phone in a public place, I feel that we have at that moment forgotten what the technology’s original purpose actually was. In addition, we have at that point devalued our relationships with other human beings, whether we know them or not. Let’s always remember that technology itself is a tool and only a tool that is supposed to support and make life just a little better. When we become a slave to it, it has outgrown its original purpose, and we then become unhappy. Just ask any high school teacher how much spell check has ruined the average student’s ability to spell.

    To some of my Facebook friends, I am a friend in the digital realm only. We’ve never even spoken! If I eventually fail them or they hear gossip about me, then they might de-friend me based on their own thoughts or actions. Occasionally, after posting something honest and important, i.e, about my relationship with my partner or a gay topic, etc. I might lose a friend or two. This used to bother me because as a human being I would rather have somebody like me as a friend than not. However, I have come to the conclusion that this is just about as unimportant as a dropped cell call or when my PC needs to be rebooted. Nothing is truly lost other than a minimum of my time. Fair weather friends are a dime a dozen anyway, especially on places like Facebook. Yes, Graeme, I think many of us make ourselves unwell by worrying not about what is actually truly wonderful and present in our daily lives, but instead by dwelling in and focusing on some degree of fantasy that our social media and technology affords each of us. When used appropriately, it is an awesome tool. When misused, it can ruin our lives, or at the very least make them truly miserable. I personally love fountain pens and automatic Swiss wristwatches because they, for the most part, are devoid of technology and remind me that there is still true beauty, art, and pure craftsmanship alive and well in this world that pictures on a screen just can’t do justice. All will be good in my life, as long as I never forget where I came from.

    Great article, Graeme, and thank you once again for sharing your thoughts and making me unplug and think for myself!

    Love, Jeff Williams

    • Jeff Williams,
      Your words eloquently remind me of the fact that we choose the people with whom we engage.
      I have come to the conclusion that some people are not all that they have presented themselves to be, even on a one-to-one basis, and that is not only sad, but also scary.

      Your words also echo my sentiment that much can be gained from a relationship that is not held captive by the confines of our actual and tangible reality, and can, in fact, be nurtured and become a healthy expression of human interaction, irrespective of the fact that a face to face encounter has never occurred.

      Thank you for “unplugging” and being one of those people that I can absolutely and irrefutably count as a friend.

      Love
      Graeme

  3. this was a great read… Great job Graeme!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: