Two new and insightful articles that I wanted to share with you all about the Gospel, loneliness, and the walled-garden of Facebook. Understanding that not all aspects of social media (specifically FB) are bad or problematic, my wife and I are collaborating on a future post about redemptive practices of social media for the church. I think it’s fun just to write that my wife and I are collaborating. I’m sure there will be hundreds of thumbs-up on that one.
Article 1 – by Tim Chester; Pastor – Sheffield, UK
The first article is actually a post in a 7-part series that Tim Chester is doing on the impact of Facebook on people’s thinking in the light of the Gospel. Tim always gives us a clear and salient view of the Gospel in his writings, so these articles are spiritually healthy perspectives on the tensions between social media and Gospel practices.
- Will you be my Facebook friend? Part 2 (timchester.wordpress.com)
- Will you be my Facebook friend? Part 1 (timchester.wordpress.com)
Article 2 – by Stephen Marche; Atlantic Magazine
Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.
- That one little phrase, Your real friends—so quaint, so charmingly mothering—perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media have produced: the fears that Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.
- we should recognize that it is not just isolation that is rising sharply. It’s loneliness, too. And loneliness makes us miserable.
- roughly 20 percent of Americans—about 60 million people—are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness. Across the Western world, physicians and nurses have begun to speak openly of an epidemic of loneliness.
- We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years.
- In the face of this social disintegration, we have essentially hired an army of replacement confidants, an entire class of professional carers. … As of 2010, the country (USA) had 77,000 clinical psychologists, 192,000 clinical social workers, 400,000 nonclinical social workers, 50,000 marriage and family therapists, 105,000 mental-health counselors, 220,000 substance-abuse counselors, 17,000 nurse psychotherapists, and 30,000 life coaches.
- despite its deleterious effect on health, loneliness is one of the first things ordinary Americans spend their money achieving. With money, you flee the cramped city to a house in the suburbs or, if you can afford it, a McMansion in the exurbs, inevitably spending more time in your car. Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence…We are lonely because we want to be lonely. We have made ourselves lonely.
- The idea that a Web site could deliver a more friendly, interconnected world is bogus. The depth of one’s social network outside Facebook is what determines the depth of one’s social network within Facebook, not the other way around.
- The price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert one’s own happiness, one’s own fulfillment…Lanier argues that Facebook imprisons us in the business of self-presenting…Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation…Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break. Human beings have always created elaborate acts of self-presentation. But not all the time, not every morning, before we even pour a cup of coffee.
- Narcissism is the flip side of loneliness, and either condition is a fighting retreat from the messy reality of other people.
- What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity.