Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)
TITLE: The Dark Side of Social Media
By Gwen Plauche
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I was blessed to grow up with a wonderful great-grandmother. One thing I always giggled at was how she knew the business of all her neighbors, all from the view of her kitchen sink window. She knew when they came home, who visited and if they did not come home.
Fast-forward forty years. This same information, plus much more, is now available to the world – no kitchen sink window needed. Welcome to the world of social media!
Social media has experienced explosive growth in the past few years. For example, Facebook added 100 million members in a nine month time period.1 If Facebook were a country, it would now be considered the world’s third largest and twice the size of the United States.1
One in five divorces can now be blamed on Facebook.1 Besides divorce, there are other potential pits to avoid in this new virtual world.
Once the social media community of friends or followers is created, the user easily moves into the stage of communicating. The first part of the dark side is nearby. Users hooked on constant notification and checking updates frequently are living on the stage of public opinion 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a constant anxiety or wondering if anyone liked the opinion posted. This reminds me of high school clique days when we had to consult with our friends before dressing for school.
The second part of the slide into the dark side is when the probing questions from curious bystanders push in asking for more. This should alert the user that the dark side is taking over. Unlike my great-grandmother observing at the sink, this new world of comments has enabled onlookers to not only watch, but to poke and openly comment on how they feel about you and your activities. This is the role of one’s own self-created paparazzi that must now be harnessed.
This monster satisfies its appetite at all times of the day and night. What is going on with that situation, what will the family do, what is next? This cliffhanger, I-have-to-know-more thinking is what hooked women of a generation ago to the daytime soap operas. Worry about typically unimportant events with people you do not even know cause the sacrifice of the precious hours of today to watch and wonder what will happen next. The similarities to today’s popular reality TV are striking.
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 1 John 2:15-17 (The Message)
Am I anti-social media? Absolutely not! I post and comment on Facebook often, but I realize that I need to make adjustments. I simply do not need more things to think about. Nor do I need the constant approval of my friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter to live my life. No wonder I don’t have enough brain energy for creativity! I have used up my energy wondering what others are going to say about my comment about Susie’s aunt, whose daughter’s son, lost his first tooth after being hit in the face (or something equally as urgent.)
Please do not misunderstand my intentions. Social media is a great tool for communicating to today’s generation. Social media is here to stay and is technically legal. The challenge is using a tool for what it is good for and not for what could be a spiritual demise. Whether posting every inch of your life, your needs, your progress, and your failures for the world to see and comment on is spiritually appropriate, is a question only you can answer when you are willing to look at the dark side.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." Bill Cosby (posted by a friend on Facebook)
1 Qualman, Erik (June 15, 2011). 10 WOW Social Media Statistics. Socialnomics. ww.Socialnomics.net
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