I recently read a study of how social media and the internet are creating somewhat of a narcissistic society. The definition of narcissism is- excessive self-centeredness and self-admiration; a disorder characterized by one’s over-estimation of his or her own appearance and abilities and an excessive need for admiration. In psychoanalytic theory, emphasis is placed on: vanity, self-absorption, egotism, self-importance, and selfishness.
The concept of this opinion was based on the idea that people spend time with a system that is singular. In other words, we don’t surf the internet in groups, we surf alone! As we surf, the sharks circle the advertising waters and smell the blood…our wallets and our vulnerabilities. We type and click hoping for some fulfillment or satisfaction. Something on a website can do what people used to do, what God used to do, and what we used to do. Things that took effort and determination have been replaced with an app, a link, or a browser so now we don’t even have to leave the couch to watch a movie or go to church.
Life has become increasingly impersonal and we are being blindly seduced. Facebook keeps us so "in touch" that we are "out of touch". It may have its advantages, but social media keeps us anti-social, if you ask me. We can ignore the kids while looking at a friends life displayed on their little corner of the facebook world. Honestly, it’s not authentic. People only post the good stuff and by doing so, as one psychologist recently stated, we have a whole new issue called "facebook envy". People see the lives of others, in comparison to theirs, and it creates a feeling of inadequacy. It’s hard to believe!
I appreciate technology and the convenience factor. I also see it as another vehicle that can be employed to reach people with the gospel but... there are still many "buts"! Nothing can replace a church service, good preaching, and worship that enraptures you. Nothing replaces conversations that are face-to-face…emphasis on the word FACE! I want to see a person’s face; their eyes, their smile, their expressions. People were made in the image of God not computers, iPads, or cellular devices. Call me old, call me old-fashioned, but call me! Texting is out of complete control! I also want to hear a voice, hear the tone, hear the laughter or even the hurt, but I want to hear! I was driving today and saw kids playing ball but one little girl, who looked about six or seven, had a cell phone texting and then talking! The interesting thing to note was that she was alone, and off by herself, while the other kids played. What are we doing?! What kinds of messages are we sending to our kids or do we, as adults, just send messages by text now and not by example?
I’m not being "holier than thou". I use a laptop, an iPad, a Blackberry and I text, twitter and blog. However, I refuse to let devices replace people and things that matter by stealing my time and my attention. Websites can’t fill voids, satisfy desires, or boost self-worth the way the Gospel can. The Gospel teaches us to follow the example of Jesus who lived His life on earth for others and not for Himself. It’s not our internet server that completes us; it’s our service to the Lord that satisfies. In that service, we die daily to self and self-absorption by being absorbed by His presence and the needs of others. Yes, we have to be self-caring but not self-serving…there is a BIG difference. We have to have boundaries and balance as well as moderation and modifications as we approach every day of everyday life.
Life isn’t always about convenience, it’s also about commitment. That said, I fear that we are raising a generation of self-involved kids, with narcissistic overtones, unable to commit to much of anything. We cannot enable entitlement. If one is humble, they never feel entitled. You can’t stick your nose in the air if your head is bowed! We, as adults, as parents, and as Christians, have to work at providing examples of discipleship defined by devotion to a God that deserves our time, our blood, sweat, and tears, and most importantly, our undying love.
So much has been lost but one thing I never lose is hope. There is a remnant, there is a "Gideon’s 300", and there is still a church with the Message. The eternal love of God is still the answer and, believe it or not, there is still a needy world that is begging the question…it’s just up to us to hear.