Social media has impacted our world and our individual lives with wide sweeping effects. For the most part, we have enthusiastically and blindly entered this new reality, embracing the new abilities it offers. For the first time in history, social media has allowed us to see what is happening with our friends, family and acquaintances as well as to gather their thoughts and opinions in real-time. In addition, we can share our photos, ideas, thoughts and opinions with the world in real-time. Social media has provided equal access to a public platform that would have been, previously, only available to a privileged few.
This has led to a cultural critique of social media that people spend way too much time keeping up on what is going on with others through the large window that social media gives access to. Social media now allows everyone to be a celebrity in some sense, with our phones as paparazzi and us as the magazine editor taking clips from our lives and sharing them for the world to see. This reality also reverses itself and allows us to constantly look into other people’s lives with what seems to be an unquenchable appetite.
Personally, as an avid user of social media, I enjoy that I can see what is happening with my friends, family, and acquaintances, knowing about important life events (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, deaths, etc.) but also discovering how people are doing, feeling, and what is happening in their lives. Social media has provided a large window into my relational world, allowing me access into the lives of my friends, family, and acquaintances that would never have been possible before.
This phenomenon has created large metaphorical windows into our relational lives. We can gaze through them and observe what is happening with others as well as, through a self-edited lens, allow people to selectively peer into ours. This relational window has also caused a temptation to voyeuristically view the lives of others as passive consumers of relationship rather than as active participants.
In our stubborn stare into the lives of others, we are often oblivious to the fact that the large window of social media also has hinges – that the window we are gazing through is actually a door. The hinge of social media makes the window a door, opening up the possibility to actively love others. The invitation for us is to walk through the threshold of relational possibility with a cadence of love. Social media, like all technology, extends our reach. It can extend our reach to peer with interest and it can extend our reach to walk with purpose.
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12, NIV
What if social media extended your reach not just to know things about others but extended your reach to actively love others by genuinely being happy for them, mourning with them, encouraging them, sharing hope with them and building them up. Let’s use social media more as a door than just a window and extend love beyond us. Our world needs more love, hope, and faith (the things the Bible says will remain – 1 Corinthians 13:13); therefore, use social media to walk through the threshold of relational possibility with a cadence of love and change our world.