I’ve seen some ugly “conversations” on social media. I notice that we tend to be quicker to say things on social media than we do face to face.
Is this about personal cowardice? Do I not have the “fortitude” to say what I really think in person? Does social media turn us all into trolls?
I don’t think it’s any of that–quite. A powerful set of studies focused on an unexpected but noticeable rise in teen depression, thoughts of suicide and actual suicide during the period of 2010-2015. Through a series of cross studies, the research identified that there was a direct correlation between the amount of time spent on cell phones (and social media) that exceeded 2 hours per day and teen depression, thoughts of suicide and actual suicide. Through another set of cross studies, researchers found that less time on cell phones produced a drop in those experiences, and that actual face to face time increased feelings of happiness.
When I am face-to-face with others, there is something about who they are that communicates to me. I have to assume that the same is true of me to the other person. This “something” that comes through in face-to-face communication is lost in social media. With the loss of the “something” that is essential to you, I find it easier to be less of who I am. Bad things are said. Violence is done–all in the name of staying connected.
I am using technology and social media to write this. I will continue to use technology and social media, but I am becoming clearer that it is not a substitute for face-to-face time. Faith is a verb. It’s what we do in relationships. That kind of faith changes things–for the better.