The drug of choice
In New Zealand, we are currently deliberating the contentious cannabis referendum – to vote YES or NO? To legalise, or not to legalise? Regardless of where your conscious allows you to vote, there is another, a more lucrative drug currently on the market.
A drug easily accessible to all and used by many. Even mere children may fall victim to the drug’s seductive highs. I suspect even you, my dear reader, maybe using in this very moment.
The drug. The highly additive cultural phenomenon known as social media.
Recently NETFLIX released The Social Dilemma a documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski, which explores the unprecedented rise of social media. The film focuses primarily on the detrimental effects of social media and its ramifications on our mental health and belief in conspiracy theories.
The main character in the documentary is a teenage boy who lives his life vicariously through his phone screen. His freedom is exploited for financial gain by social media giants who impose surveillance capitalism and data mining.
Although the film is criticized as sensationalist hype by social media providers, it succeeds in prompting an interesting discourse among social media users and providers alike.
Human lab rats
Social media has triggered the evolution of a new ecosystem, one where distraction blooms. Together we enter this new environment when we switch on our devices to scroll mindlessly through media posts and not-so-personal photos uploaded from our 10005th Instagram follower.
Our minds have crossed the frontier into virtual realities. We are yet to determine its longitudinal effects on live humans. However, what the preliminary results show are alarming.
Research has proven that sustained exposure to social media has contributed disturbances in mental health including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and lowered self-esteem. Yet, as human lab rats, many of us continue to choose to mindlessly tune into the cacophony of social media.
The bombardment of pings, buzzes and beeps provided to us by constant notifications has created a generation uncomfortable with silence.
Our phones have not only become extensions of ourselves but pacifiers for comfortable emotions. We have unwittingly moulded a generation unable to cope with the daily pressures of life assumed by the previous generations. We have busied our lives with an unnecessary distraction resulting in minds not comprehending the presence.
Yet if we stopped scrolling, pushed pause on that cat video or even muted the influx of messages, we may learn that silence is okay.
A Christian perspective
A Christian perspective on social media prompts personal reflection and perhaps for some of us, a brutal reality check. If we declare to be followers of Christ, then the posture of our lives should point others towards Christ.
Debating ‘What would Jesus do?’ with social media prompts an interesting discussion.
#1 Abstain from social media?
#2 Use social media as a way of sharing the Word?
Social media can be a fantastic tool to share Biblical teachings, catapult Christian worldviews, and communicate during times of physical distancing. However, if we do not learn how to harness this tool, we will become its slave.
In a world where humans are increasingly subservient to technology, as Christians where we decide to make our stand is of utmost importance.
Some of us may prefer to live as technological hermits, disconnected social media as a lifestyle choice. Others may actively embrace social media as a way of building relationships. Either way, remember, just because everyone is doing it, does not make it right.
‘He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth' (Psalm 46, verse 10).
Maybe it is time to put the phone down, and tune into scripture. Take a moment to be still and embrace the silence.
Kiwi-born with British roots, Jessica Gardiner drinks tea religiously while her dinner table discussions reverberate between the sovereignty of God, global politics, and the public health system. Having experienced churches from conservative to everything but, Jessica writes out a desire for Christian orthodoxy and biblical literacy in her generation. Jessica is married to fellow young writer Blake Gardiner.