By Scott Keith
Rarely is my social conscience inspired by a sermon. Yet, Pastor Koch’s sermon on Sunday hit me right between the eyes. We are more alone than ever in a world of endless connectivity. We are surrounded by people. We are surrounded by technology. We can reach out to people all around the world easier than ever before. We are more alone than ever before.
Floods of articles over the last 10-20 years have stated the same. From “The Atlantic” May 2012: “Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.” An article by Dr. Sherry Turkle of MIT, June 2011 published by the American Psychological Association says: “People today are more connected to one another than ever before in human history, thanks to internet-based social networking sites and text messaging. But they’re also more lonely and distant from one another in their unplugged lives.”
Most of us know this to be the case. The case has been made from psychological, cultural, and even theological perspectives. Yet we do nothing about it. Not only have we failed to act by reducing our overall usage of social networking, we seem to want more of it every day. It has been said that Facebook is dying. Yet, the rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. As of February 2014, Facebook had 1.2 billion active users. Furthermore, Pinterest boasts 70 million active users, Twitter 560 million, Instagram 150 million, Google+ 400 million, and LinkedIn 240 million. Snapchat, on which the act of sexting has run amuck, already boasts an astonishing 30 million users.
So as I sit here hypocritically writing a blog that will be shared on Facebook, I once again ask: Why don’t we stop? Certainly, value and quality would be added to our lives if we were to become Luddites. But the Luddite way of life, though it has its appeals, seem impermissible in our age. Furthermore, I am never an advocate of forbidding something from a position of fear.
Perhaps we could just scale back. Limit the number of social media outlets to which we belong. Limit the amount of time spent trolling the internet aimlessly or checking our status. Allow conversation about the ethics of social media to be a valued topics in our homes. Take some well deserved breaks from our distant “friends” in order to spend time with our family and real friends. Spend some time away from technology in God’s wondrous creation. Embrace the people that are in front of us more often than we embrace the avatars of the people far away. Just turn the shit off every once in a while. Perhaps then we wouldn’t feel so alone. Oh yeah… Listen to all that Gospel stuff Pastor Koch posted earlier this week too.