BY STAFF WRITER
Gone are the days when the only thing that Church leaders had to worry about was television and radio. Social media has now proved to be a bigger distraction now, especially on millennials.
While this could be a heavy accusation, allow me to explain it with the help of Narcissus, of the famous Greek mythology. Narcissus was a hunter known for his beauty.
One day near a pool he saw his own reflection in the water, and he fell in love with it, not realising that it was only an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live and he stared at his reflection until he died. It has also been said that his name is the origin of the term ‘narcissism’, excessive interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
For anyone who has ever been a victim of addiction to social media, there is a parallel to this. Social media is a big spoon constantly feeding individualism, which does not allow a person to turn to God in times of need, but rather to turn to oneself.
The 2001 Oxford University press dictionary defines individualism as ‘dependence and self-reliance’. When you analyse a smart phone, all the apps, programmes and functions within revolve around the owner/user. This has allowed young people to create their own little world where all the experiences are tailored to what they like and desire the most; leaving no room for God.
Dr Jean Twenge, a psychologist and author of Generation Me, explains that, “Individualism is an uncomfortable fit with religion. Whereas religion typically emphasises social norms and appeals to a higher authority, individualism focuses on the self and personal choices. The need to belong has not changed. What has changed is how people fulfil it.”
Facebook, Whatsup, Instagram, Twitter and the likes are alternatives to religious groups, bringing me to the commonly asked question by the youth today, “What does going to church have to offer me that I will not find online?”
Many youth are slowly slipping away in a world where they equate their self-worth to the number of likes they get on a post, which would explain why they are busy texting during service instead of listening to the sermon.
Social media is not all evil. It has done exceptional work in spreading the word of God and encouraging Christianity. A scripture in John 12:46 clearly tells us that, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Therefore, the youth need to stop living behind the phone and see the world. They need to get out of a virtual world and realise the goodness of the Lord ‘in the land of the living.’