I hope you can all forgive me for this post. I don’t want to sound self-righteous by any means. I am interested in your feedback on this topic, and I’d like to know how you view this topic that I have been interested in lately.
Even if you haven’t been following my blog posts, you might notice by looking at the dates of my posts that I haven’t been writing very faithfully. It has a little to do with the loss of interest, but it has more to do with finding myself becoming preoccupied with my posts, and whether I was attracting followers, etc. I realize that writing a blog, and social media have many purposes which include staying in touch with friends and relatives, and even developing talents such as writing. Yet, I think we have all probably noticed another trend around social media that is not subtle at all. Social media is very addictive. I just did a quick google search about it, and it was full of articles from Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, even scholarly articles about social media addiction! So, it is for real.
Can we all agree that an unhealthy obsession with social media leads to narcissism and vanity? We all appreciate getting “likes” and comments, followers, and “friends,” etc. It can become very addictive and consuming. So my question is, at what point does it become too much where it replaces our devotion to our Heavenly Father? Don’t we all agree that it feels good when we are validated for our posts? When does it get to the point that it is replacing or taking priority over our daily communion with the Lord? Who or what is our idol in this situation? Is it social media, or is it ourselves? The first commandment we are given is “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). Might we be breaking this first commandment if we are using social media excessively? And by excessively, I mean, have I devoted as much time in study and prayer and service as I have online…?
Our addiction is so contradicting. We use it to feed our vanity and puff ourselves up, and yet we sit here at our computers and beat ourselves up for not being Pin-terest-ically perfect! We compare ourselves with the “Joneses”, or become preoccupied when we don’t get enough “likes” or comments, meanwhile our sense of self-worth and divinity is being squandered while we give this worldly standard of “perfection” too much weight. We look to social media to be our social outlet, seeking validation for our behaviors and thoughts, searching for some approval.
I am not suggesting a social media fast. There is a lot of good that comes from social media as I said before, not the least of which is missionary work and the work of connecting with our families and loved ones. Every good thing has an evil counterpart/counterfeit. So, how do we find balance?
The goal of this existence is to put off the natural man, and “[yield] to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19).
I’ll close this post with a quote from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from his amazing talk called “Things as They Really Are” given back in 2010:
“I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls…I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes…Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication. Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience.”