For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.
Hundreds of years ago, the English theologian John Wesley wrote a moving commentary on the radical, self-sacrificial love commanded by Jesus Christ. It's remarkable how reading this passage today shows a stark contrast between biblical love and the type of love touted in the shallow memes of social media.
"If the story confirms everything you want to believe about your enemies, pause before clicking that share or retweet button. It might be too bad to be true." This short quote from Collin Hansen of the Gospel Coalition encapsulates how Instagram news stories can prevent us from being sober enough the grim prospects of the war in Ukraine.
This is the informal code of woke social justice that I have come to observe in the era of social media: You absolutely must be doing social justice, and a doing a lot of it, or there is something very wrong with you. Yet you must not post about the social justice you are doing, because then you are virtue signaling. Yet if you say nothing, you shall be judged for your abominable silence. So you have to say something---but you better watch how you say it, or you may wish you had never said anything at all.
Vengeance is a common theme in fantasy fiction, and it is striking how well certain FF authors tell the truth about what a messy business it is. Are there parallels one could draw to life in America today? I think so. We live in a society where social media offers a robust and pervasive platform for condemning evil people but no framework for forgiving them even when they repent.
Social media taps into our common need to feel connected. But it also adds something unique: a metrics-driven design that can easily turn us inward rather than outward.