A friend of mine’s great grandson threw a tantrum because he couldn’t log on to the fireplace. At least that’s what it looked like, because he was standing in front of it screaming, and he often has a smart phone in hand. He doesn’t talk much yet, but he can navigate a phone better than I can. This brings up the subject of this week’s blog, is staying connected a good or bad thing? Kids are learning how to use smart phones and the Internet to play games sometimes before they can talk. And, studies have shown that excessive Internet and social media leads to loss of sleep, anxiety, depression and suicide. How, and how often, do you use your phone?
Excessive use of electronic devices disconnects people from other people. Even interpersonal communication on social media like Facebook, Twitter and other sites is impersonal. Very little serious bullying happens face to face, but over social media. That’s because the Internet and email is not real, compared to talking face to face to someone where you can experience a reaction. People have as a result become less empathetic and less emotionally involved with others, and are less inclined to worry about how what they post effects their friends. And friends on social media are often names on a list of people they’ve never met personally.
This disconnection from other people, and preoccupation with getting the best and latest devices is harmful. People are in essence worshiping devices: People “have no roots in themselves, and so endure only for a time” (Mark 4:17). Even if they hear the word of God, it is not rooted in their priorities where it should take precedence, because their preoccupation with gadgets is distracting them. “And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
That being said, social media can be extremely useful and productive. One pastor has said that social media is shallow and unproductive. It doesn’t have to be, as this blog hopefully attests. To paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright, form follows content. Shallow, meaningless social content is ineffectual. Jesus told His apostles and disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I AM with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20). The Internet, like automobiles, bottle openers, chain saws and spoons, is just a tool. It is no better or worse than what you use it for, how much you use it, and how much importance you subscribe to it. Personally, I use my phone to talk to people when I need to talk to them, and to receive occasional text messages. Now and then I use Google to find directions or a phone number. I don’t play games or watch Utube on it.
Social media can be a useful tool in witnessing and evangelizing. How else can you reach a world-wide audience for free? I have a challenge for you. Can you reduce the amount of Internet use for fun and entertainment, and use an appropriate amount of time for going to all the world with the word of God? The Internet doesn’t have to be shallow and meaningless. It can be used to save people from hell. God can work through you on the Internet to save people in China, Iran, Greece, England, Germany and all other countries. A world-wide revival can be started on the Internet, and you can be a part of starting it! How about right now?