The church has taught us throughout our lives how to handle materialism – one of them being social
media. Social media itself is an amazing tool that we have been blessed with, but the world has made it very easy for us to fall into its temptation. Though we may not have realized it, social media has had a great impact on our minds and behavior. Our great dependency on social media has affected us in every aspect; our physical lives, emotional lives, and of course our spiritual lives.
To begin, social media has impacted our physical lives through behavioral changes. It has caused us to become addicted, whether it’s to the celebrities’ lifestyles that we want or aspire, or to the unrealistic expectations that television shows and movies have set for us. This addiction can cause “higher levels of psychological distress, poorer self-rated mental health and lower self-esteem” (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). With this in mind, we have to be aware of what we expose ourselves to, as St. Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful… I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV). This is how we prevent addictions from forming; by not allowing ourselves to be under the power of any materialistic thing. Once social media takes control over us, we will be completely addicted. Our focus will be diverged from God and placed solely on a worldly mechanism that strays us farther from Christ. Thus affecting our behavior towards our peers, family, and the Church.
Social media not only affects our physical behavior but also our way of thinking and assessing situations. Our discernment will be affected as it will become harder for us to think from a good Christian perspective. Our faith and values can be compromised through the wrong actions of others on social media. The bigger problem is that these wrong actions can soon enough become the norm of society and will not be seen as taboo any longer. In addition, social media can also make us feel worse about ourselves when we don’t succumb to our fantasy of perfection created by it. We must learn to ignore these thoughts and influences as they will only work to deteriorate our spiritual and emotional lives. We must train and discipline our minds to stay true to our values and never compromise them.
Last but not least, social media has impacted our spiritual growth and has sometimes caused us to fall away from our strong beliefs. For instance, in our Church, we believe that dressing inappropriately or using inappropriate language can violate Christ’s temple (our body). Social media, on the other hand, encourages us to do and say whatever we desire. Since social media has such a strong grip on us, we become highly dependent on it, making us emotionally and physically distraught. It becomes our only focus and we sometimes don’t realize how much time we dedicate to it instead of dedicating that time to God. As St. Matthew says in his Gospel, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” This shows us that it has always been either God or the world, you can never have both. If we chose to let social media to take over our lives then we will lose the most important person in our life; God. We must be loyal to one master only, if we chose social media to be our master then that will define who we become – a person with no purpose. However, if we chose God to be our only master, and allow Him to define us and influence our thoughts and behavior, we will become better.
In conclusion, social media can be so dangerous to us if we let it. I suggest that we chose who and what we follow instead of doing what the world wants us to do. We can control social media instead of let it control us. If social media is used in a healthy manner, it can be extremely beneficial. Instead of posting content on social media with swear words, post a Bible verse a day. Instead of gossiping with friends, use social media to reach out to those who didn’t come to Church in a while. It can even be used for Church fundraising! Social media can keep us connected with our Coptic community worldwide and more importantly, it keeps us updated with Christian movements occurring around the world. Overall, social media could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing so it is important to stay alert so that it doesn’t consume your life, instead let be beneficial towards yourself and others.