By Fr. Alex Radulescu - These days, more than ever, we use social media to connect with one another. Now we have an excuse: the quarantine. But how is social media affecting our spiritual life, we may wonder? I would say, a lot! Even before the pandemic, studies after studies have proven the negative effect of the “electronic” interactions in our daily life.
We are more connected now than ever before in our history. We have great tools to do it: fast computers, amazing mobile devices, fast internet, high quality photos, videos and so on. Then we have the social media phenomenon. Facebook alone has over 2.6 billion monthly active users making them the biggest social network worldwide.
Social media has its benefits. I enjoy catching up with people I have not seen in a long time. I can connect with my family and friends in Europe. I get to see their photos and their posts, and they get to see mine. It is nice to be able to that.
But in spite of instantly connecting people across the globe, social media has also created a significant negative impact on human interactions that we can’t ignore:
Social media has both positive and negative effects in our life, but I would argue that on the long run, the negative effects outnumber the positive. The reason I picked on social media today is that some people now think that this pandemic will create a greater need to use technology to interact with one another and they see it as a benefit. I disagree.
Social media can bridge people across distances and beyond physical barriers, it’s true, but it will never become a substitute for personal human interactions. Not just that, but the social validation effect can create unnecessary anxiety. We should seek to please God. His validation matters more than anyone else’s. Also, this constant obsession to use technology has decreased our ability to have a quiet moment to reflect or pray. Social media emits a constant noise in our life: shares, likes, photos, videos, chatter and so on.
My beloved, I see the benefits of using technology. Our ability to constantly discover new tools (like technology) is a reflection of God’s divine image in us. But, let us not allow ourselves to be overtaken by these tools. God gives us tools so we can work for our salvation, not to become obsessed with them.
The only way to stay connected with one another in a healthy way is to allocate time for personal interactions on a daily basis. Yes, during the pandemic we have to use technology to talk to one another. Fine, I get it! But when it is over, let us again spend time talking directly to one another and be together without any interruptions.
Also, let us carve out time to pray and reflect. Our social media usage allows very little time for that. Christians are called to dialogue with God and to pray for one another. Create a “no electronics time” in your daily schedule. Go out, take some fresh air, say a prayer, reflect and… be silent for a while. You will be surprised to discover the beauty of being still…