At this point, it goes without saying that social media shouldn’t be called “social.” “Anti-social” media would be a better name for it. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, “social” media doesn’t serve to make us any more social at all. In fact, it too often makes us more isolated, more alone.
Social media does this through pretension. It pretends to connect us with others while it cheats us out of deep companionship, true knowing, and undistracted time with those we love. It amuses us, seeming to answer our desire for relationship while robbing us of the time we need to know and be known. It purports to establish relationships, while making us jealous of the lives of others, or by giving us a platform to brag about how full of friends and fun our lives are at any particular time. “Here’s my great dessert at this great restaurant with my great friends! Don’t you wish you were me?” is the underlying message.
Our “smart” phones (another misnomer) have only served to make us a society of lonely voyeurs and exhibitionists. Yes, we feel alone—but “smarter” technology isn’t the answer and social media is only compounding the problem.
The True Answer to Our Isolation
The answer to our lostness isn’t found in technological advances, a bigger Twitter following, or more Facebook likes. The answer to our aloneness isn’t technological at all. It is human to its core—not flashy, glitzy, or dreamed up in the Pacific Northwest. The answer to our isolation doesn’t come to us in gigabytes or new apps, but in blood and amniotic fluid, in pain and deep isolation. It is an ancient answer, an answer that was spoken before time. It is an answer Who is as near to you . . . even nearer to you . . . than that piece of technology you can’t let go of.
The desire to know and be known is deep in of all of us but social media isn’t the answer. Paul knew the answer when he wrote,
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)
The answer to our aloneness is Love Incarnate and the amazingly great news is that Love incarnate is already among us; in fact, he is one of us. His name is Immanuel, “God with us”, and His purpose is to be with us and among us; to let us know that we are already known and already deeply loved . . . and that he truly understands us—not simply by his omniscience but by life lived as one of us. His media was a stone feeding trough, a hillside with lilies where he fed hungry families, a bloody cross, and an empty tomb . . . and he did it all so that we would know that we are not alone.
Sure, the siren’s song of false relationship blares loudly and incessantly. In fact, you’re probably reading this because you answered her call. But don’t expect her to give you something she can’t. She can’t give you union with another or the knowledge that you are already known. Only the incarnate Christ is able to do that and the good news is that he has. And his life means that you will never be alone.
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored 18 books, including her most recent title from Crossway, Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ (trailer, excerpt).