“They don’t recognize that it’s actually robbing them of joy.”
“Robbing them of joy.” That phrase stuck in my mind as I read this article about Facebook and the endless scrolling we can find ourselves addicted to, and how it sucks the life and joy right out of us. There is tons of spiritual application in this, especially during this Lenten season of self-assessment, confession, repentance, cleansing, and joy-renewal in the full scope of Christ’s person and work on our behalf.
Because of our broken, sinful natures, frail, weak humans, like myself, inevitably make comparisons with other people, either unto despair and envy (“I wish I was doing that… I wish I had that… I wish…”), or pride and contempt for others (“well, it serves them right for their poor choices… I really am better, I mean look at that?… Look what I’ve attained compared to… What? They don’t have granite counter-tops? How cheap, the humanity!”).
Facebook provides an endless feed of new, dynamic content to satiate what we wrongly desire, either for ourselves or others. The point in the article, that feeling like you’ve wasted time after indulging in a scroll-a-thon as the catalyst for robbing our joy, in my opinion, is just one aspect that certainly contributes. The bigger issue, though, is that we compare our value and worth with others, either unto pride or despair, instead of finding our value, worth and righteousness in Christ and His work on our behalf.
A prayer entitled Self-Deprecation in the Valley of Vision gets right at this issue. How much does the endless scrolling and resulting comparisons made with others on Facebook enable these destructive forces within our souls, that merely serve to drag us down and turn us away from fuller enjoyment in the presence of Christ? Here’s the excerpt:
Am I comely? what fuel for pride! Am I deformed? what an occasion for repining! Am I gifted? I lust after applause! Am I learned? how I despise what I have not! Am I in authority? how prone to abuse my trust, make my will my law, exclude others’ enjoyments, serve my own interests and policy! Am I inferior? how much I grudge others’ pre-eminence! Am I rich? how exalted I become!
Thou knowest that all these are snares by my corruptions, and that my greatest snare is myself. I bewail that my apprehensions are dull, my thoughts mean, my affections stupid, my expressions low, my life unbeseeming; Yes what canst thou expect of dust but levity, of corruption but defilement? Keep me ever mindful of my natural state, but let me not forget my heavenly title, or the grace that can deal with every sin.
This isn’t some call for a ban on the medium, because that’s not the problem. I’m the problem. We’re the problem. Facebook (as well as other social media) merely provide the means to act out our sinful passions. This is a call for reflecting on how and why we use Facebook or any social media the way we do, for posting or consuming. Maybe that would require a fast from the technology or intentionally being more aware of our tendency to gravitate toward addictive scrolling and posting. I don’t know. This article provided an interesting observation regardless.