Human Being Online

I saw this shared in an Instagram story the other day – after the sharer noted she had taken several months away from social media. Here she praises this book:

[From someone’s Instagram stories. November, 2021.]

We all have our own views of social media, of course. Aside from its “sample” I have not read that book. However, that “sample” appears very much Christian-religiously-centered, and its author opens by essentially telling us that in staring down at our phones and bowing our heads before that which is not God we are missing out on life.

True if you are simply “wasting time” on social media there is something definitely to be said for taking breaks now and then, but “wasting time” is purely a subjective term too and the irony of writing a book on taking a break from social media that is published on a Kindle ereader that we bow our head to read on its screen was apparently inadvertently overlooked by her. I could not help but think too that books in themselves were “social media” long before there was an internet. Indeed the Bible – her relationship with [the Christian] God obviously underpins her thinking here – is in a sense the ULTIMATE in social media, for if you are a Christian the word of Our Lord as passed down in that library (calling the Bible a “book” is inaccurate; it is better-described as an ancient library) that is read and re-read and SHARED with others, has driven social interactions (for good and, unfortunately, also some bad) among billions of people for some 2,000 years.

However, if we wish to restrict the definition of “social media” here being to internet-based apps invented since about “2000” – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – with which we “connect” with others online, personally I don’t see using such social media as a chore or as degrading to my life.

As an author, yes, I admit I do use social media to raise awareness of the existence of my books; this blog, like my other public social media, exists BECAUSE of that writing. That said, it has also broadened my life. The fun I have on, say, Instagram, figuratively often laughing with REAL life friends and family (who do know the in person me) is one aspect of it; in fact I am in touch with relations and friends with whom I might well have long ago lost touch had our communications been confined to in person (when in many cases I live a continent away) or by telephone or letters. And now that contact has greatly expanded thanks to others (including apparently some readers) who choose to “follow” and interact with me for reasons only they know (unless they decide to tell me, of course).

[Photo by me, November 8, 2021.]

So I don’t see this blog or other social media as a “burden,” but as merely another form of wider outreach beyond just someone sitting across from me. Away from social media, I do converse with family – including my wife – and friends. I still sit outside as well reading a “great book” in the sunshine (when there is sunshine here in England, of course). I like films. I have dinner. I take walks. I like to travel (which we will hopefully be able to do again relatively freely at some point). I attend church once a week. I do pretty much what everyone else does on a routine day.

Clearly those who allow social media not to supplement life and expand their personal horizon, but instead to encroach on living face an issue that they may need to address. Endlessly reading junk “news” sites, for example, may be depressing and dangerous to your mental well-being. Spending time scrolling rubbish for hours on end is certainly now akin to someone who gambles or drinks to excess.

However, liking each other’s pics and stories, and even sometimes sharing virtual “tears” – particularly when it comes to family and friends – when distance makes being in the same room impossible, does nothing but IMPROVE our human interactions when there otherwise would have been nothing but silence and perhaps even loneliness.

Remember, he is on Instagram, too. As in any human activity, you get out of it what you put into it. If you seek out the positive, and aim for the positive, that activity will benefit you.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are. 🙂