Mysticism and Social Media?

Here’s a fascinating video, and I’d love to hear what people think about this. Although it’s aimed at business, when I watch this I wonder about what the relationship will be between social media and mystical spirituality in the years to come. Sitting in front of a computer screen isn’t exactly a traditional contemplative practice; texting on an iPhone isn’t exactly a category of lectio divina. For those of us who believe that the world needs more silence, more stillness, more sabbath rest, more breathing, more openness to the Divine Mystery — and less information onslaught — how do we position this message in the social media world?

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Because even if “the Social Media Revolution” really is just a “fad,” the fact remains that right now it’s a very big fad indeed. And we who are dedicated to the contemplative life and to speaking of its beauty to others cannot afford to sit this one out in hopes that it will all just go away. Because even if it does all “just go away,” I think we can rest assured that whatever replaces social media as a technology of communication will look nothing like anything that came before it.

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About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • carol

    Q: How do we position this [spiritual] message in Social Media world? A: See the Divine in Social Media – there is radical transparency (think of all those videos by consumers who felt ripped off) and empowerment to ordinary people (think of Iran after the vote – even though they didn’t “win” they were and still are witnessed), its a means of connecting, caring, communicating and organizing on behalf of common causes (think of the election of Barack Obama). Social Media a dialogue instead of a monologue, (conflict resolution skills have a wider audience). Social Media rewards humor and creativity. Social Media encourages us to give away knowledge and share it freely. A world with Social Media doesn’t preclude a life of meditation and contemplation. It can fully support it. I have often found great escoteric meditation music and writings online when I wanted them at 5am. Social Media offers an opportunity to experience that we are all connected. I say embrace it.

  • Jodi Hill

    Over a year ago I felt led to start a blog about looking for God in daily life. I didn’t know what a blog was, so the learning curve has been steep. Even though my reader count isn’t busting at the seams, I’m finding it to be a marvelous way of practicing examen of consciousness and of sharing what insight He imparts. The additional discipline of regularly posting ‘contemplative prayer updates’ (which chronicle little more than how difficult I’m finding this type of prayer to be) helps keep me accountable and engaged in prayer. I find that I write not only to glorify God but that I write for those ‘out there’ and for those who one day ‘may be’ (future generations). If I never know my grandchildren, at least they’ll have a window into Grandma via the internet. What I have been given, I give away to any who find it helpful without needing to gain the approval of a publisher first…I love it!
    To step back a bit–I find that the joy of the internet is being able to easily find what one is looking for: people of like-mind, information/resources that speak to wherever one is ‘at’, etc. Connections are made that can lead to deeper interactions (i.e. now that I know about you, I may one day actually attend one of your retreats) and knowledge can be shared in a medium that allows all to seek and find it.
    I think the danger in all of this, though, is that the medium can become a substitute for person to person interaction…whenever we forego connecting in person for screen time, we disconnect from who or what ‘is’ around us. Dare I also posit that whenever we forego connecting with God for screen time, we disconnect from He who Is. That, I think, is the challenge of social media. God must be invited into it all, or it will become little more than a hollow idol clamoring for worship.