One last tidbit about social media before I move on: I suppose I wonder what happens to us if we keep up at this pace. And by ‘us,’ do I mean Christians, or all of humanity? I’m not sure — maybe both?
That makes me feel like quite the fuddy-duddy. A hundred years ago, would I have been the one saying that if the good Lord had intended us to fly, He would have given us wings? Human beings have certainly proved to be resourceful and adaptive enough to handle advances in technology that our ancestors never could’ve foreseen.
But if there’s one thing that just makes me anxious when I consider the rate at which technology is expanding, it’s that we seem to assume that anything we CAN do is something that we SHOULD do. In the case of social media, we assume that flindering our attention and our ability to relate to one another isn’t going to impact our humanity. But how could it not? Dividing my attention a thousand times doesn’t mean I have multiplied my patience, friendliness or intelligence; probably just the opposite. The only way to survive such a reality is to get in the habit of giving less and less, while still giving lip service to words like ‘friend’ and ‘like’ and ‘share.’
We haven’t changed ourselves into gods and goddesses that can intimately know, empathize, connect and relate to hundreds and thousands and millions of people. We’ve just painted ourselves into a corner where that’s what we need to be. And if we can’t grow into the role, or don’t want to, then probably we’ll just devalue that kind of human connection, rather than admit to ourselves that we have gotten shallower and more superficial.
That’s the human end of the problem. The Christian end of it is that there is something mystical and transcendent about how we interact with each other and with God. Through humble means of communication — words, letters, little acts of kindness — wisdom is communicated from one generation to the next and with it, epiphany, beauty, truth. In an increasingly toxic and hostile environment, the Gospel is spread and affirmed every day. When our entire culture starts to alter that, what will happen? What will things look like in 40 years or 80?
I worry about things like this all the time. (Greg is good about letting me vent my opinions, but he calls it ‘going meta,’ and it usually elicits a patient look.) Do I really think that some kind of crisis point is looming? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I suppose I have the tense feeling of someone watching a person blow up a very old balloon. But I can’t point to any empirical evidence that says that this particular balloon will blow soon, because until now we haven’t had a balloon like this.
I suppose that’s another reason I wish we could proceed with caution. But in any case, that’s enough alarmism for one day.