Social Pornography: Social Media vs. Real Life

In Advice and Encouragement, Relationships by Debra Fileta16 Comments

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

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16 Comments on "Social Pornography: Social Media vs. Real Life"

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Abasifreke Ekanem
Guest

I’m so guilty of this . Thank you for letting God use you to put me and countless others back on track. God bless you.

Pete
Guest

I just rejoined Facebook after a few years. Thanks for this warning and insight. One really can relate to social media in this pornographic way.

I think we can prevent this happening if we think the social media as a platform from which we can launch into face-to-face encounters.

Jayla
Guest
Debra, This was your best blog post yet. I am so glad you addressed this. I am sure it’s not easy for busy people with a lot going on. We live in such a “microwave society” that everyone wants everything quick, fast and in a hurry. I remind people of how much better food tastes when it’s left to marinated for a time, and cooked nice and long and slow. Meat comes out so much more tender, and juicier. Not everything has to be fast fast and quick. We have to learn to stop and slow down sometimes, and make… Read more »
Shannon LaNasa
Guest
I’m guilty of the same! One day when I was listening to KLOVE they said something along the lines of “we’re so busy trying to live Instagram-worthy lives, we’re not actually living our lives at all.” It really made me think about how I share my life with others. Their suggestion was the next time you feel the urge to rush to share something that happened in your life via social media to pick up the phone and call a friend to tell them about it. We’re so busy trying to connect via social media that we’re actually disconnected from… Read more »
Luke Urban
Guest

Sometimes I get caught up in this other world of social media and out of my world. I take too much value in social media.

Oye
Guest

I realised this a while ago…especially because of how toxic social media can get. How it brings words and thoughts of people who are being mindless but influencing minds. Without their knowing or caring. I recentlay took a break from my instagram and twitter, signed out. Can’t read or post just to rid my mind of the clutter. I recommend it

Colette
Guest

What a great post, Debra! It is so true. Lately, I have been feeling quite disconnected from my friends, society, everything. Facebook is great for many things including communicating with my long distance friends. However, society has become so fast-paced and all about instant gratification, that no one takes time to reach out to people the old-fashioned way…telephone, over coffee etc. I, like many others, is guilty of texting over calling, but sometimes a text just works better. When something significant happens in my life, I tend not to post it on social media. Great read!

Michael
Guest

One of the most relevant articles I’ve read on the internet in recent times. Thanks Debra.

Bill
Guest

The problem here is that moments that are fun are almost always better when shared with someone.

For those of us who are single, social media provides the only opportunity to share those moments with someone.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t being relished but rather they are being shared with others.

Rachel
Guest
While I agree with most of what you said, I hate to break it to you, but just making and keeping real life friends nowadays is like rocket science. I should know. I do my best to get out and meet people, but I’ve pretty much forgotten what it’s like to have a close friend. I still live with my family, but they’re often busy with important things and we don’t get to hang out as much as we’d like to. So I often spend most of my days alone. I’m sorry, but as much as we’d like it to… Read more »
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