A Christian view of social media

Technology is distracting believers from the surrounding Christian community

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One month ago, I attended a lecture in the Jerry Falwell Library titled, “Antisocial Media: Communal Transformation and the Barriers of the Technology” given by Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English, and Dr. Chad Thornhill, professor of theology.

Media — Our connection with others is being torn apart by the social media we use. Google Images

Media — Our connection with others is being torn apart by the social media we use. Google Images

For an hour and a half, I was faced with the possibility that social media may be destroying the image of God in humanity.

Prior spoke first and discussed some rather frightening aspects of social media usage. She added that it is decreasing our intelligence, making us more depressed and shortening our attention spans. Thornhill added that connectedness is no indicator of true community. Rather, it gives us a false impression of our relational health as human beings.

We are more connected than we have ever been. We have a 24/7 news cycle, smartphones and Internet radio. We can share more about ourselves and know more about others than was previously
thought possible.

So why do we still feel lonely and unsatisfied?

Because humans were never meant to relate solely through screens.

In Genesis 1:26-27, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (ESV).”

When God decided to create mankind, he used the phrase “our image”— “our” signifying more than one. A key belief of the Christian faith is that of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit exist as one. God himself is community.

Yes, we may be able to be maintain connections with others through social media and communicate via text, but what are we losing by doing this?

We are becoming less authentic people. We are denying the image of God in ourselves.

I am not against using social media. I am a Facebook user and occasionally binge-watch comedian Tim Hawkins’ videos on YouTube. I am thankful for the ways that social media allows me to stay in contact with friends who live in different states or out of the country.

But after listening to the lecture, I had to stop and think. Why do I use social media? What is it adding to my life? I am pretty sure that I am not actually friends with all of my friends on Facebook.

And that is the trouble. Facebook has redefined what it means to be a friend, just as Twitter has redefined what it means to be a follower.

When Jesus called his disciples “friends,” he was not reducing them to pixelated images on Facebook. And when he called them to follow him, he most certainly was not asking them to sign up for Twitter.

He was extending an invitation into the joyous, messy, beautiful thing we call community.

Digital communication is like fast food. It is quick, cheap and easy. It requires no significant investment of time or money and is often consumed on the go. It does not leave us full for long, so we come back for more, which, in the long run, is detrimental to our health.

Face-to-face communication is like a feast. Unlike fast food, it requires a commitment of time, money and energy. You lay aside other pursuits for the sake of spending time with the person in front of you. A feast is a multi-course meal, designed to satisfy the partakers. A feast cannot be rushed.

And this is what Jesus offers us, with himself and with others. But we often choose the fast food over the feast.

I am not suggesting that you give up all of your social media outlets or texting. But what I am asking is that you remember that you were created for more than virtual reality.

Let us focus on the faces made in the image of God — not just Facebook.

GRAF is a feature reporter.


  • Hey, this is coming to you six years later, but I was wondering what the impact was of your article. Wondering how your life has changed since writing it, contemplating these themes, as so much has changed since. God has been working on my heart so deeply, or I’ve been deeply contemplating, removing any presence from social media, as part of a permanent lifestyle change to reunify with my purpose. This is bigger than it ever was before and I don’t know of any true campaigns out there speaking out to help others go back to a life of genuine creativity and authentic existence. The vast majority including myself at time’s would even conclude that social media is used for good as well and can be whatever you choose it to be. I have to agree with that also, which makes it confusing to simultaneously want to leave. It’s like a black light onto your soul; it can heighten your experience but also expose every last little thing that is wrong that needs work. Would our lives be better without it? I think honestly they would, and our youth would change forever for the better. Would love to join forces with anyone who agrees and would be interested in developing an ironic social media campaign to curb social media. Kind of joking but not! Thanks for your perspective and writing this.

  • Social media can have both negative and positive impacts on a Christian, depending on how it is used. As a Christian who has been on Facebook since 2010, I can tell you that it has been a life-changing adventure. I’ve had many divinely orchestrated connections through Facebook. Back in 2013, I attended a school of ministry on Facebook. I also have been sharing the Word on Facebook and so far, this have been blessed. This is just my two cents. God bless you.

  • So yes, social media can have both negative and positive impacts on a Christian. My mentor always says, “what you look for on the internet is what you find”.

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