When I was in college, I wrote my senior thesis on “The Dark Side of Social Media.” Now, let me preface this by saying I am not against social media by any means. In fact, it’s a huge part of my life. I run five different social media accounts, including my church’s and the national Hyphen page, so you can say it’s definitely a big part of my life. More than the business aspect of social marketing, I love that social media connects us to people we wouldn’t have otherwise found ourselves connected to.
I met two of my closest friends on Instagram and Twitter. While there are many wonderful aspects of living in the twenty-first century where we can connect with people across the globe, there is also a dark side we cannot ignore. With everything in life, there is both a light and a dark side. Thank you, Star Wars.
One day, as I was conversing with my family members about my education, I let out a sigh and stated, “If there is one thing I have learned, I have begun to recognize in a world that is becoming seemingly more connected with one another, we are actually becoming more disconnected with one another.” The rise in social media and other multimedia platforms has the ability to negatively impact our social and spiritual well-being. Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.” But, I want to take that a step further. I fear the day when technology will surpass our daily intimacy with God and our desire for the depth of human relationship/vulnerability with not only our peers, but also with our Father in Heaven.
According to a study done by researcher DScout in 2016, the average American checks their phone 2,617 times per day and spends a total of 225 minutes just browsing on their phone.
We spend a lot of time listening to other voices throughout the day. If we want to hear the voice of God, we have to get alone with God; we have to take the time to unplug and recognize that social media likes will not fulfill the deep longing within.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “God says ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.” God is speaking to us throughout our day. However, if we as Christians become like the statistics, we will have a difficult time tuning into the voice of God, the one steadfast voice that will silence all noises of self-comparison, increased feelings of low self-esteem, and much negativity. It can be so easy to compare our lives to one another’s social media highlights. Trust me, I know this all too well, which is why we must remember that everything that was once temporarily highlighted will be gone when we meet Jesus face to face. That eternal hope is what we are truly living for.
Matthew 11:28-30 reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In reference to this specific passage, the image of the yoke was commonly used in the Old Testament to describe Israel’s subjection to foreign oppression. Now as Christians living in the New Testament church, we are reminded that the yoke is the law and it has been replaced with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
God wants us to take the time to unplug, to find true rest in the simplicity of just spending time with Him. How do we grow in relationship with one another and God? We spend time together, we unplug from our social media networks, and we communicate with one another. Even as the times change and we become more socially constructed into a world that values technology, social networking sites, Netflix, and telling our stories through Insta Stories or Snapchat, we must make the effort to become that much more plugged into our churches and our youth groups, as well as our daily devotion with God.
When we unplug from ourselves and our social networks, we recognize our true self and identity in God, a self that will be wholly committed, tuned into the Spirit, and plugged into the mission of Jesus Christ. So, with all of that said, I encourage each of us to take the time to unplug from multimedia networks. I believe in doing so, we will find ourselves more connected than ever before.
I graduated from Azusa Pacific University with my B.A. in Communication Studies. While I currently work in the advertising industry in the Greater Los Angeles area, I also invest a lot of time into my company, Jen Malech Books Co. My mission through the company is not only to make an impact in people’s lives through the power of storytelling, but also to give back with the gifts God has given me. Twenty percent of our proceeds goes towards Home and International Missions. I also serve as the Hyphen director at Life Church under the leadership of Pastor Rich and Tamara Brown.