Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Maybe the Worst Thing about Social Media

Wikipedia lists what social media is, and I looked, because getting that accurate might be important to someone with a strong support for social media, so I don't mind representing it with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  I know it's more, but those suit the discussion.

Anymore, I don't look at Facebook at all.  In the top five of anything I've ever written is my post on February 13, 2009, Why to Delete a Facebook Account.  I had an account a long time ago to test drive it before I could decide about what my children might do, and it didn't turn out well for me, but I gave it a definite go.  I've never done Twitter, but I look at one Twitter feed about every day, because I like to check the articles it links to.

I have a few Instagram accounts.  One is an anti-Instagram account with about 9 posts and never changes.  That is my main account.  I have two other accounts that serve as locations for photos.  One I used only for the Europe trip.  I answered zero comments and have not added anything since the trip.  It is a memorial to the trip, always there to look at.  Now I have what I call my day trip account, which is where I put pictures I take when I travel here in the United States, mainly in California.  I've opened another account that I might put church photos, but I'm not sure, because I need to talk to the church about that.  People may not want to show up online.  I'd like to have a place where people can go back to events and look at the pictures, but I haven't decided yet.

I watch on YouTube.  We have channels on YouTube, but we don't use it for social media.  I know it's social media too.  This occurred to me in recent days when I posted a comment on a video posting and the owner deleted my comment.  Other comments appeared, but mine was deleted.  I've noticed hundreds of comments on certain channels, and I think the owners encourage it.  It means more traffic, more clicks, and probably more money.  Even the controversy will bring in more audience.  They don't mind if there is a fight in the comment section, as long as it receives moderation.

From my use of Instagram, I like it for the usage I am giving it.  I don't like Facebook, but it might be able to be used just for our church to make announcements and account for events.  Since I look at Twitter, I like it for looking at what other men do, such as they do. I like it for that, but I write a blog, which is a long form Twitter anyway.  I can link to posts on my blog, just like these men do with their Twitter accounts.

What I don't like about having any social media accounts is encouraging social media.  Like many people have said and written, I think it is very dangerous.  If I were to put that in shorthand, social media seems like a modern Tower of Babel with similar or worse results.  God didn't like the Tower of Babel.  With that in mind, I want to return here for a moment to express what might be the worst thing about social media.  I know I hate this the most.

Conventional thinking on social media, what is appropriate, perhaps even why people use social media, is what I think is the worst about it.  I know people express themselves with negative comments.  It happens.  I read those.  Celebrities get thousands of comments and many of those are mean. They can be crude and harsh.  I'm not at Facebook, so I don't know how much of that is there, but it is on Instagram and Twitter.  People use foul language and ridicule other people in their comments, especially celebrities.  This is called bullying today.

People have become experts at ridicule, using a new instrument, the meme.  A particular successful form of mockery could go viral if it puts somebody down in harsh enough fashion.  The meme could become famous almost on par with the celebrity, at least for a moment.  I'm not going to give analysis to the psychology of the meme, either the maker or the origin of its popularity.  Overall, I think it isn't good.  It is rampant though on a level of a cultural phenomenon.

Related to bullying and including the meme, but not the same, is what I don't like.  Here it is.  Actual biblical correction and reproof of false doctrine and sin is not allowed on social media.  I remember one in particular saying that he was doing his social media for the purpose of dialogue.  When I heard dialogue proceed from his lips, I thought it meant, well, "dialogue."  Actual dialogue.  But he didn't mean dialogue.  He meant only praise.  No negative criticism at all.  Maybe dialogue is all positive on the internet, unless it is mockery and ridicule, which are not helpful.  Anyway, I offered one moderate note of admonition under an expression of sinfulness and it was deleted and I was blocked.

My experience hearkened back to my short Facebook days over a decade ago.  There I knew I would not be at home, because the requirement of acceptance and toleration.  People joined a social media to receive "likes" and "hearts" and "thumbs up."  There is no room for dislike, unless, again, it is in the form of extreme ridicule and personal attack.  Actual edification through biblical exposition is unacceptable. Nothing is hated more than exposing something with the Bible even in a sensitive manner.  What the Apostle Paul calls "warning the unruly" is absolutely not tolerated on social media.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22:
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Social media is off limits to the obedience of that command.  No one is either allowed to obey Paul's command in Ephesians 5:11:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Over and over again in Proverbs, Solomon says that the fool despises reproof.  Based on that, almost everyone on Facebook and Instagram would be a fool.

Social media can't be a "safe space," because the worst kind of ridicule and mockery occurs there, especially of the truth.  Actual biblical exposition of the truth is subject to the worst treatment.  I find this on my blog here most often from anonymous sources.  On social media, it comes very often from people who use a fake identity.  They don't want anyone to know who is the source of the ridicule.  However, I've found that people on social media expect to be safe from actual reasonable challenges from scripture.  They don't want it.  They are not there to get it.  That is what is maybe the worst thing about social media.

When a place becomes designated for protection against the confrontation of doctrinal and practical error, that is a hotbed of apostasy.  That is not light.  That is not love.  It is not of God.

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