Recently, I wrote a two-part blog post on ending isolation and loneliness. However, when I wrote the blog I intentionally did not include one aspect of connecting with others common in this day and age, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms are an integral part of our society, but they can contribute to our isolation and loneliness. As a result, many people think the answer is to quit social media, but canceling our accounts is not the answer. In Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media Kyle Tennant provides some simple strategies to effectively use social media, which is the basis for this posts advice.
Social media has been criticized for creating a lot of disconnect within our culture. Often critics of social media platforms claim society cannot communicate well as evidenced by their lack of eye contact or short attention spans. Despite being able to communicate easier, communication is no longer genuine or intimate. However, Tennant claims social media itself is not bad, it is our use of Facebook, Twitter, etc. that contributes to our disconnection. This begs the question, “how should we use social media to end our loneliness and isolation, or at all?” Tennant provides two suggestions to this question.
1. Social Media is a Supplement
According to Tennant we should use social media as a means to “supplement” our relationships. He believes that we should never use social media to primarily communicate with any individual. Social media is an artificial form of communication that lacks an intimacy, but can coordinate intimate events. Therefore, we should not terminate our social media accounts, but wisely use them to enhance our real world relationships. Social media is a tool to end our isolation and loneliness as we enhance our personal relationships not to only have virtual relationships.
2. Social Media Should Glorify God
Tennant wrote Unfriend Yourself for practical and for spiritual purposes. He believes that social media can help supplement our intimacy because our personal relationships can glorify God. In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Humans were meant for intimacy with one another, and with God. So social media should not be used for our entertainment or to pass time, but intentionally. As a result, social media should be used to point others towards Christ, which is the best way to glorify God. This means we should strive to avoid negativity because this not only hurts a Christian’s testimony, but it also separates the intimacy God seeks for us to have with another.
We all want to be connected with each other and we all want to minimize our isolation and loneliness. I believe the largest step we can take today is to strategically use social media towards genuine intimacy. Logging off social media does not mean cancelling our accounts. It means intentionally choosing to connect with others through face-to-face contact, phone calls, or even writing letters. God personally connected with us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ because He wants intimacy with us. How we relate to another serves as practical practice for God’s spiritual intimacy. Let’s be strategic!