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You cannot measure the effect of something while it’s happening to you. It’s like a bad marriage. You cannot gain full clarity on what happened during the marriage until months and years later, as the noise dies down and clarity comes. It takes years after an event is over, and the researchers have completed a thorough study of what happened and its consequences. The people in the middle of an event can only react to what’s happening in real-time. We will not entirely know how we have shrunken our souls through social media until years from now.
The effect of social media is hard to measure because it’s ever-evolving. Our use of it is more like the frog in the kettle. We roll along with it, enamoring ourselves with the latest app while sharing our mouse noses and dog ears with all our friends. In a sense, we are amusing ourselves to death while the developers keep their addictive IVs connected to our veins.
(The word “amuse” means “without the mind.” The letter “a” in the word negates what comes after it. In this case, the word “muse” means mind. Thus, the word “amuse” means “without the mind,” which is why I say that we’re amusing ourselves to death, and we don’t know it, which is critical when you’re talking about any addiction.)
The upside to the pandemic is that social media is no longer a “slow-drip” that we’re taking into our “spiritual veins.” Folks are sheltering-in-place with no social outlet, so they have widened the faucet on their social media intake. With increased and intensified social media consumption, the pandemic has allowed us to measure its impact on our minds. “Isolation and increased intake” permit you to see how too much of the world’s problems are changing you.
Folks have nothing else to do but look at the world through an addictive social media window. They can’t go into the real world to engage their communities. Thus, they drink more Twitter, FB, YouTube, TV, and [fill in the blank], which amps-up their anxiety, fear, anger, and other soul-diminishing things.
This intensified “media gush” affirms the thesis that too many people’s problems, especially those you cannot fix, are not suitable for the small brain space above our necks. Back in the day—fifty years ago, we only knew of “Aunt Mable’s sciatica problem” down the street and the gossip that was happening in our little country church. Today, we know, virtually, everything that is happening in the world the minute it happens.
If there was a question about the adverse effect of social media over an extended period, it should not be a question any longer. We are going through a global experiment where everyone is drinking from the social media firehose, and we’re all suffering from it. The sniping, anger, divisions, and frustrations are at an all-time high. It’s affecting our marriages, families, churches, and communities.
One way to assess your soul is by measuring where you are today with where you were six months ago? Are you less anxious and frustrated today than you were six months ago? If so, it means that you’re doing well with progressive sanctification.
If you’re more anxious or frustrated today, you’re heading in the wrong direction, and you must evaluate your companions—the things that surround you, that feed your mind. You are a composite of your companions (1 Corinthians 15:33).
God did not equip you to carry the weight of the world. Are you taking in too much negative information? If you are, you must cut back on what you’re permitting into your brain. If your “container” is full of garbage, God’s Word has seeped out; it won’t impact your life.
I am trying to figure out if Mr. Thomas subscribes to Jay Adams or Larry Crabb. I want to know before I join the [Mastermind Training]. – Mark
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).