Social Media – Friend or Foe

Think on: “All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” PAUL MCCARTNEY Eleanor Rigby, 1966

Tumbleweed recently reengaged with social media and tested the Facebook waters.  I was quickly reminded of its addictive allure.  It can be enslaving.  I was reminded why it’s both friend and foe, as I viewed posts from family and friends.  In some instances, posts were downright startling in their lack of social engagement.  Liberals especially see things as black or white and often express views in rather sanctimonious fashion.  One of the scariest aspects is how people hide behind the masks of Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk.

Social media has become like a second skin to many, especially to what they call the Millennial Generation.  Whether in life or in the business world, it is an environment that must be faced.  It is defined as online digital communications between individuals and communities.  Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and the like represent an all-to-real contrivance of communities.

This 21st century phenomenon has a global reach; is mostly blind to race, gender, nationality, or intellect; enables far-reaching densely networked communities; fosters narcissism, loneliness, and isolation; and enables cultural tribalization.  “Whoa!” you might say, “How do communities foster loneliness and isolation?”  Well, we’ll talk about that.

First off, why is it importance to balance social media in life and business?  Anytime you have an imbalance, the implication is that something is out of whack.  Anytime that you obsessively or compulsively – or addictively – use anything to excess, other aspects of life and business necessarily suffers.  So, as with any excess, it is vitally important to achieve balance.  For example, drinking alcohol isn’t bad, but drinking to a drunken stupor is; having plenty of money isn’t bad, but worshiping the hoarding of money is; material things aren’t bad, but accumulating far more than you can reasonably use is; and so on.  Similarly, we cannot function in society, in God’s world, if we overly isolate ourselves from it.  You get the picture.

Tumbleweed suggests that there are three principle components to this isolation condition.  There is solitude defined as a physical condition of separation; there is independence which is a conscious choice; and there is loneliness which is psychological.  Social media by its very nature interferes with “real friends,” creates artificial distance (invisible protective barriers), fosters loneliness, and passively consumes yet broadcasts disconnection.  The social media disciple fails to recognize that it is the quality of social interaction, not the quantity, which predicts the degree of loneliness.  In other words, quantity creates a place in which you can become effectively anonymous.  The social media addict physically meets fewer people and by gathering less creates fewer bonds.  It also shields them from the realities of society.

Amazingly, most people fail to comprehend how social media has, as a consequence of its isolating nature, had a cocoon-like effect on our society as people struggle with interpersonal relationships.  It separates.  It divides communities.  Sitting in front of a computer or tablet has also led to more physical and mental ailments, as less exercise breeds obesity coupled with susceptibility to illness and mental health has deteriorated.  Little wonder that the behavioral health industry is flourishing.  You may wonder what this has to do with you and your life.  I would hope that answer is obvious, but you really must ask yourself, “What would Jesus have done?”

Solitude should be an overtly planned act, not one dictated by a smart phone.  We need solitude to recharge our physical batteries.  What do you do during this solitude?  You apply introspection, especially accompanied with prayer, to talk to yourself.  One of the best ways to do that is to talk to another person, one you can trust, to whom you can unfold your soul.  Oh, that other person is God.  Try it.  Trust me, it’s far better than the distraction of 846 supposed “friends” on Facebook, and the feedback is far more trustworthy.

If you’re feeling especially frisky have some friends over, check smart phones at the door, and actually talk.  Is social media your friend?  Social media can be friend or foe; but you make that determination.  Just sayin’.