I really like social media. In fact, I’m a huge fan of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and I even have a blog (yep, you’re reading it). It’s such a convenient way to connect with friends and family. With just a couple simple clicks you can get in touch with someone, share an article, or look through a friend’s photo album – or even do all those things at once!
It’s great to be able to share pictures, thoughts, and information with friends across the globe, bringing them into your world with a blink of an eye. In the business of our society, it’s nice to be able to stay connected when you may not have time for a 30 minute phone call (with two kids ages 5 and under – I actually don’t even remember what a 30 minute phone call is).
But, even so, there can be a huge danger in this kind of “connecting”. In an essence, there are times when the online world acts like a kind of social pornography– by taking sacred things, and throwing them into a not-so-meaningful context.
When we look at pornography within the context of the sexual, it carries the same idea. We live in a society in which sexuality has lost so much of its value, because it is no longer set apart- rather, it’s on display for the world to see. In a world where blatant sexuality is bombarding us through the internet, entertainment, media, and commercialization– the sacred has become ordinary in the pursuit of drawing an audience. A sexuality that is shared with everyone loses its prime purpose: intimacy.
Sometimes, our approach to social media can pave the way for the same kind of problem. A place where meaningful things begin to lose their meaning–just to draw an audience.
In the same way, true intimacy and connection can get lost. Social media can allow for us to “connect” with people for the sake of connecting rather than for the sake of living, gratifying an urge inside of us momentarily, preventing us from experiencing true connection and true intimacy in its most fulfilling context: real life.
It’s almost humorous to see status updates (we’ve all done it…) talking about “how much fun” someone is having in the moment, or “how incredible” this experience is with their significant other, because if it’s really that great: why are we on Facebook right now? Why aren’t we savoring the moment?
Sometimes, I have to ask myself the same thing.
Matthew 7:6 is a really great analogy of what it means to keep track of the sacred: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
You see, there is a tendency to talk about the moment, more than to savor the moment. A tendency to take the sacred things in our lives and “throw them to the pigs” giving them away to people who don’t REALLY care, rather than investing those moments in the people around us who actually, genuinely matter.
Sometimes, social media becomes social pornography, because it gives us a platform to share some really sacred things, some really intimate details, in the context of a meaningless atmosphere. And in the end, if we’re not careful, it can cause those things to lose their sacredness.
This might be a hard bite to chew, and an even harder one to swallow, but hear me on this. I am speaking to myself just as much as I am to anyone reading. In focusing so much on our “audience”, maybe we’ve lost the real meaning behind the show.
We can become so focused on the connecting, that we actually take away from the living.
Maybe it’s time to bring the focus back on the living, and remember to set boundaries for the things that are sacred. Rather than tagging our wonderful friends every 15 minutes, maybe it’s time to turn off the computer, put down the smart phone and take the time to really enjoy them: face-to-face.
Instead of posting pictures of our children every waking moment, maybe it’s time to snuggle with them, hold them, and capture those precious memories in our the depths of our hearts.
In place of tweeting about our deep love for our spouse, maybe it’s time to take them in our arms, and tell him/her how much we love them- face to face and heart to heart; even if no one else hears it but them.
And rather than share how much we love Jesus by liking a page, sharing an article, or joining a group, maybe it’s time to learn how to love as He did and show compassion to the world around us in the reality and realness of everyday life.
There is meaning in the sacred moments of life, not because anyone is “following”, “sharing”, or “liking”, but because they are things that are inherently meaningful in and of themselves – audience or no audience, likes or no likes.
These real-life relationships that God has given us are so meaningful, because through them, we are offered the opportunity to get a better glimpse of Him. We do ourselves an injustice when we choose to connect superficially with the world around us in exchange for connecting intimately.
Don’t give in to the false intimacy that comes with social pornography and make time for the genuine intimacy that comes with the day to day real life.
Make time for the people around you. Here and now.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!