Kerala has been in the forefront in the recent technology revolution. Smart phones and applications that they brought along have changed the daily lives of young and old dramatically. When WhatsApp was becoming common in Kerala, my sister who is in seventies cannot leave the phone away from her. Someone who has not been used to mobile phone unless there is an emergency, she became almost addicted to the phone always eager to hear its beeps!In such a short span of time, she integrated social media into her life in a way that I could not have imagined.
Recently, I read a book that gives an analysis of 6 fascinations with smart phone or other device that we daily use:
- Novelty We want to be informed about what is new in the world and new among our friends, and we don’t want to be left out of something newsworthy. I other words we are obsessed with trivial matters. Most days, navigating social media means encountering controversies that is sensational and seem to be of immense importance. The reality is that in next week, we cannot even recall what was that sensational news!! In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 6:13, Paul says “Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.” In the past we offended people with our words that came from our mouth or a letter we wrote. Now we offend people by a Tweet, comments we make on the social media with the tip of our figure!
- Ego or Self-Adulation We want to know what people are saying about us and how they are responding to things we’ve said and posted. Have you heard someone say,“I had 45 likes”?Do you remember the story of Narcissus? He was an arrogant man incapable of receiving love or giving love to anyone. For his frigid affection for himself, the goddess Nemesis cursed him. Day after day, he bent over and caught his reflection in the glassy surface of the water, longing for the image he saw, so much so that one day he noticed his reflection in the bottom of a well, jumped in, and drowned.We know teenagers and young adults strive desperately to fit in, and we know that in search of this conformity, they try to stand out. For example, a teen may present himself or herself with jet-black hair, dark eyeliner, and a black wardrobe.Sometimes, we are not who we think we are; we are not even who others think we are; we are who we think others think we are.”
- Entertainment Value We want to feed on what is fascinating, weird, strange, wonderful, shocking, or spellbinding. I sometimes watch my millennial daughter Roslyn watch some stuff on social media and laugh at. I ask her what is so funny. When I watch it, and there is nothing funny for me. There is some generation gap here also, I admit.
- Boredom Avoidance We want to put off the day ahead, especially when it looks boring and routine, and holds nothing of fascination to capture our interest.
- Responsibility Avoidance We want to put off the burdens of the roles God has given us as fathers, mothers, bosses, employees, and students.A recent study determined how unhappy people were after using various social media platforms.The platform that made people the unhappiest was Instagram.This makes perfect sense when you think about it. On Instagram, you get to see everyone at their “filtered” best form. You see a friend of yours who looks stunning in every photo that she takes. No wonder that creates jealousy and envy!
- Hardship Avoidance We think our answers are a click away. We live in a world where all the answers seem easy to find.
We want to put off dealing with relational conflicts or the pain, disease, and disabilities in our bodies. We are faking ourselves. Instead of dealing with the shortcomings we have and focusing on God’s blessings, we want to replace all thoughts that disturb us.
Where are the boundaries?
The words and images we share on our phones influence others. But the words and images we consume in turn transforms us. The object of our worship is the object of our imitation. God designed this inseparable pattern. What we want to become, we worship. And what we worship shapes our becoming. This is the basic teaching in Anthropology. If we worship idols, we become like the idols.
Have you heard about an app at Applesause.com? This is digital profile App. You may want o stay away from it. It will give you a profile that is more authentic than what you think you are!! This test site prompts you to enter some text you have written—such as e-mails or blogs—along with information about your activities on social media. You do not have to provide social media data, but if you want to do it, you either allow Apply Magic Sauce to access your Facebook and Twitter accounts or follow directions for uploading selected data from those sources, such as your history of pressing Facebook’s “like” buttons. Once you click “Make Prediction,” you will see a detailed psycho-gram, or personality profile, that includes your presumed age and sex, whether you are anxious or easily stressed, how quickly you give in to impulses, and whether you are politically and socially conservative or liberal. Recent Wall Street Journal had an article that has a heading that goes like this: “The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does.”