OK. I like the alliteration of the title. And why not? I made it up!
So I keep hearing on the news that Social Media is becoming a problem in society. We have to admit though that all the technology behind those Social Media platforms is really something quite fantastic. It’s bright, shiny and works very well, but more and more people are arguing that it’s harming us. We don’t talk to each other anymore, not even a phone call. Just send a text message or maybe a What’s App or FaceBook Messenger thing which really is just a text message with more letters. Yes, I remember when a text message could only be 140 character long. Nowadays they call that Twitter. You really do have to be a pretty smart person to communicate well through short messages. Mess up the punctuation and at the least you won’t be understood properly and at worst your friends will be offended and never text you again. I was going to say “speak” to you again but that’s the whole point we don’t speak, we don’t see the body language, the cheeky smile, the wink of the eye, the tone of voice and intonation of the words that makes conversation so wonderful.
It is undoubtedly true, cause we’ve all seen it, a family outing to a restaurant, a special time in family life when we’re prepared to splash the cash and mum, dad and the kids are all staring at their mobile phones unable to put them down and actually talk to each other. We see young mum’s walking their toddlers home from school unable to listen to their kids stories cause they’re too busy burning their data allowance on 4G FaceBook. Why do small kids have to fight for mum and dad’s attention? Even the pleasure of walking your dog round the park is overshadowed by the ringing of your mobile – someone else wants your attention and stupidly you spoil our own little moment out in the fresh air by answering the phone. Honestly! Could it not have waited. Will the gossip be any less juicy for waiting half an hour until the dog is walked and you’ve felt the wind in you face, put some fresh air in your lungs and burned a few extra calories? How often have we seen folk in the supermarket phoning home because they can’t decide which flavour of crisps to buy. A convenience maybe, but also undermining of one’s own ability to make a decision.
We think Social Media is bringing us closer because we can share the details of our lives with our friends or even the whole wide world constantly and instantly. Scores of FaceBook friends are there just waiting to sympathise with our latest trauma. Yes, we’ve run out of coco pops and mars bars for the kids’ breakfast. What on earth are we going to do? 1.2k comments and 90 shares later we’ve decided that a slab of Galaxy will have to do.
At it’s worst Social Media has robbed some of their social skills and simple human contact. Loneliness sets in, depression is never far away, comfort eating, and other patterns of behaviour creep in as ways to soothe our anxieties. Some of those patterns are destructive and lead only to a downward spiral. I heard someone argue recently that all this stuff going on in society which we treat in isolation from each other like obesity problems, alcohol problems, depression, are all symptoms of the deeper unhappiness that lies at the heart of society. We should be looking at the bigger picture and try to work out why it is that so many people are pressing the self-destruct button. I think there is more than just a grain of truth to be found there.
I understand I’m being a bit flippant but I’m sure you see the point that’s being made. So here’s something that might help. It doesn’t require a contract, it won’t cost you £40 a month, you won’t have to charge it up or insure it against loss or damage or theft. You won’t need to think about 3G, 4G, WiFi, passwords or the security of your banking details. It won’t stop working if you drop it down the pan. We call it “Face To Face”. Now I can’t claim to have invented it cause it’s been around for thousands of years and maybe even longer than that. And it works beautifully! Any time you fancy trying it out drop in and see us at Westwood Church. Call us old fashioned but we still know how to hold a conversation!