The Atlantic has a long and engrossing new essay on the isolary nature of Facebook by Stephen Marche. I’ve written about this before and thought this article worth considering.
Here’s a bit:
We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible. Over the past three decades, technology has delivered to us a world in which we need not be out of contact for a fraction of a moment. In 2010, at a cost of $300 million, 800 miles of fiber-optic cable was laid between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange to shave three milliseconds off trading times. Yet within this world of instant and absolute communication, unbounded by limits of time or space, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.
It strikes me that Facebook doesn’t have to be isolating, though it can be. I try to make the service work for me, for example. I don’t spend long amounts of time on it, I don’t use it as my primary social outlet, and I avoid pages/subjects that would upset me. Frankly, I don’t really have enough time to spend on Facebook to get lonely. I’m pretty sure that’s an ironic statement.
If you struggle with this, leave the site. Or slash the time you spend on it. Plug into real life. Go to a Bible-preaching church, get to know the people, have potlucks (yes, they still exist!), play with your friend’s kids. Get married, have kids of your own, work hard, serve the church. Facebook need not be evil or soul-destroying, especially when your life is already balanced and big things–like God’s glory being spread over all the earth, including your little corner of it–matter far more than profile pics and status updates.
Social media is here to stay, and it’s increasingly where ideas are debated. But we must use it carefully, and not allow it to use us.