Technology is everywhere. These days, one is aware of the unfortunate scenario of individuals sitting around a table, eyes buried in cell phones and other electronic devices. There is the occasional glance upwards, followed by a few words spoken. But, these moments quickly turn back to isolated experiences of happiness and glee.
Having been a high school teacher, I am all too aware of the poor attributes of communication these devices promote. Students discuss and ask questions without raising their heads to look another in the eye. Many seem preoccupied with being, well, preoccupied. And the non-stop infatuation with social media only adds to the problem.
The Sad Truth
Electronic devices are a necessary evil in our world. Growing up, though, many of us functioned very well without them. These days, however, most would rather have their wallet stolen than any gizmos. How did we become so attached to these “idols?” Is there hope for more prudent uses of technology, and spirited forms of conversation?
Experts have weighed in on multiple occasions. Often the results are two-sided. One the one hand, technology and social media have noticeable benefits. They can increase intelligence, help one acquire information quickly and efficiently, and permit communication across cultures. However, on the other hand, there exist the negative consequences. Attention span disorders, increased exposure to violence, and the expected increased rates of internet addictions.
Research suggests that our youth may be doing more harm than good to themselves through this overuse (and abuse) of technology. Depression is up. Anxiety is up. Suicide rates are up. This is not coincidental. We must re-evaluate how our youth use these gifts. Many teens are suffering to be “liked,” and “followed.”
Another negative aspect within social media is its power to mislead youth. True leaders possess confidence, charisma, courage, a genuine character, and loyalty to duty above self. Yet, endless hours are spent watching and reading about others whose lives often reveal the darker sides of humanity, e.g. narcissism, vulgarity, and indecency.
Instead of looking into the eyes of those around us who care, and engaging them in meaningful experiences, many marginalize themselves. They create a singular form of engagement with a world where they are masters. As a result, they fall into the devil’s trap and are led astray.
The “Vice” Grip
Satan has a plan for our demise and it has isolation and despair written all over it. Teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day on their devices. Much of this adds up to nothing more than wasted time. Time one will never recover. Furthermore, the effects within the brains of those routinely engrossed in social media, are startling. One embarks on a roller coaster ride of emotions each time they indulge without temperance.
There are benefits to an occasional break from the rigors and challenges of life. However, these experiences are meant to be coupled with an exercise in discipline and self control. Just the opposite occurs when it comes to social media.
Youth experience a constant ride, exercised in an undisciplined (and often unregulated) approach, promoting a haphazard and distorted view of reality. Serious repercussions ensue as the devil tricks them into believing that they are making good use of their time. These events allow many to have fall into deadly forms of corruption.
Dying To Be “Liked”
As mentioned earlier, anxiety, depression, and suicide have all increased significantly in recent years. Today, many use technology to fill the inherent need to be affirmed. Thus, our love affair with social media only grows, but not for good reason.
Our youth obtain full disclosure of both the good and the bad of humanity, and do so without a proper filter. This causes confusion, doubt. Many questions come to mind, and they attempt to find answers on social media. This cyclic pattern not only disrupts their psyche, it can also call into question many deeply held moral convictions.
Social media is uncontrolled by our society and destructive to our youth. In addition, parents are usually the last to know when these effects have taken hold of their child. What happens during the day becomes public knowledge by nightfall, and those obsessed with gossip devour it in careless fashion. Cyber bullying has become one of the most traumatic events in a teenager’s life. The rampant broadcasting of failures and setbacks destroys self esteem and causes many to question their value and purpose, never revealing to them that they are a precious child of God.
The Wake Up Call
We are called to be caretakers of others and true witnesses to all that exists around us. In order to create this worldview, we must work to maintain focus and keep our eyes fixed on the true, the good, and the beautiful. We must take time to engage our youth in the more important things in life. Experiencing the decent and positive human interactions, which include talking, listening, and looking one another in the eye. It is a simple task, but it speaks volumes of a society’s sincerity, interest, and hope for our future.
The time has come to get back to appreciating the positive and productive happenings in our lives, while making good and sound use of technology. We should encourage everyone to embrace the noble duties of quality time spent with one another. This is what helps to create more safe and holy communities. Communities where lives are revered and celebrated in both word and action.