I wrote the article below for an online magazine issue last year and they didn’t get to use it. It’s on the internet, uses, habits and related things.
Like novels, print magazines and the television, the internet is the most recent invention or thing to captivate the minds and time of teens, youths, young adults and many across the globe. Unlike the aforementioned mediums, the internet is the most pervasive, far reaching (where available) and addictive. However, I am not quick to go down the path some have gone, putting all the blame on the internet. I think it is one of those things that people say in the days past, things were better, but errm, not really.
In his book, Man – the Dwelling Place of God, A.W Tozer wrote that “the activities in which men engage may be divided into two categories: the morally bad and the morally neutral.” The use of the internet/social media is one activity that can be categorised as morally neutral. It all depends on what you do or are doing, how, when and where. Like our use of many other things and participation in any activity, moderation and discipline is key.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 (AMP)
Excessive, obsessive and unconstrained use of anything or participation in anything almost never leads to anything good in the long run. These days, a lot of people including believers who make use of social media testify that after waking up and turning off their alarms, they are quick to reach for their mobile phones/devices before they even pray or prepare for the day ahead. There are a lot of reasons for this, from the need for validation to the fear of missing out on some news or event that adds little to nothing to you were you aware of it in real-time.
There are many studies, ongoing and complete on the adverse effects of prolonged use of the internet and/or social media and the results are not heart warming. Far from it as expected. The effects range from the physical, health, mental to the mental and psychological.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
As believers living in a fallen world, we are called to a different life, a different standard, a different world view. We have to watch the things we feed our minds, eyes and ears.
“The way one lives their life is their worship.” – Unknown
Are you spending minutes, even hours of your spare time, or even your work hours on the internet/social media when you should be doing something else? Are you finding it hard to apply yourself in the place of the study of the word but would (un)consciously spend and even find time to keep in touch with happenings that are not directly connected to you via social media? If yes, then something is wrong. It is time to re-evaluate your lifestyle and your true motivations, whether your beliefs are nominal or personal and true.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16 (ESV)
Just as our Lord and Saviour was tempted while he was on earth, we shall be also. As some have pointed out correctly, the internet seems to have amplified the bad and evil in some human beings. But like I mentioned earlier, the internet is morally neutral, it is the way is being used that qualifies it.
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” – Lamentations 3:40 (ESV)
There is no straight line to using the internet wisely. No one blanket fits all. As believers, our best birth is to guard our hearts in any way and every way possible. Should you consider quitting social media permanently? Should you take a period of time from social media – a social media fast or social media detox as it is sometimes called?
Check yourself. Examine your heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead you.
Again, just like a regular food fast or any other sort of fast, be reminded of the word of our Master – Let us not do any of it for external validation, to be able to say we did it or we can do it, but let us consider our ways in view of the times that we live in and in light of eternity and act accordingly. That our Lord and Saviour may be glorified above all.
Grace and Peace be unto you.