The past decade and more has been described as “the age of social media.” More people are interacting with each other online than ever before. The number of Facebook users worldwide has doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 608 million to 1.2 billion, while Twitter has 284 million monthly users.
Walk around New York City and all you will see are people staring at screens or talking on their phones. Go into a restaurant or a coffee shop and notice how so many people can be so close to each other physically but are somewhere else entirely on their phones. It is incredible that so many people can be in one place and yet, be so disconnected to each other.
Almost every street in every city across the world is packed with people doing this – something that didn’t exist a few decades ago. We have grown accustomed to the fact that shared physical space no longer means shared experience. Everywhere we go, we carry with us options far more enticing than the place and moment we happen to be standing within: access to friends, family, news, views, scandals, celebrity, work, and information. Through the handheld screens we carry – and will soon be wearing – it has never been easier to summon those we love, need, care about or rely upon.
As a result, today we are seemingly more connected than ever. With a click or button we can find out what our friends and families are thinking, doing, and eating.
But are we? If two people are walking down the street together both on the phone to someone else, are they really together? If we are friends on Facebook but we have never spoken or met personally are we really friends?
Unfortunately, I believe social media has deceived us into thinking that we are more connected to each other than we actually are. The connections we think we have through social media are poor replacements that do not meet a real human need to be and feel connected. Consequently, we are LESS connected to each other more than ever.
To be human is to be connected. To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ and His body. Just like we have a natural and innate need to bond and connect to each other, God has created us to have an innate need to connect to Him.
Real connection to Christ and his people is more than just being at church and church events and activities. Further, it is more than just acquiring knowledge and knowing facts and saying the right things. Lest we become the very people Jesus rebukes when he says, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23 NIV with emphasis). It is about truly having a relationship with Jesus by being connected to His Will, Word, and Body.
This is why Paul writes that, “I want to know Christ” (Philippians 3:10). Later, he says, ““All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things” (Philippians 3:15).
I write this not to discourage the use of social media. In fact social media can help us be better connected to one another. However these “connections” cannot become a substitute for genuine connection. Nor can they become a priority over our most important connection – our connection to Christ and His Body. Let it be that as Christians, we are more connected to God and each other with or without social media.
– Khai Le