The struggle is real for Catholics and their relationship with new media. In many ways, social media has become a powerful tool for outreach and engagement, especially regarding the social issues and the faith. But in other ways, we might be allowing social media to consume too much of our time and our lives. We are often too consumed with ‘likes’ on Facebook and what’s on our smartphone that we miss important, everyday opportunities to impact the lives of the people around us.
I love social media. I love it so much that many of my friends call me “the social media queen”, because I’ve used social media for major campaigns and outreach. I believe in the power of social media and I’ve seen its positive impact firsthand. But, a recent video shook my way of thinking.
This is the video:
“Look up” went viral within a matter of days because it really connected with people. This YouTube video examines the use of social media in our every day lives and shows how we can miss life-changing opportunities in our everyday life because we’re so consumed with our online presence.
We live in a world where we are more connected than ever, yet we’re becoming more disconnected than ever from everyday life.
Throughout our day, we are given many opportunities to interact with others, to talk to them, help them, and most important, be Christ to them. We are called to be a witness of the faith and our beliefs every moment of every day. Sure, we are all human, and we all have our failings – but we should strive to be the best example of the Church and our beliefs as we can be. Do we want to be the type of Catholic that only cares about ourselves and how many ‘likes’ we got on Facebook, or do we want to be the type of Catholic that interacts with people during our daily commute and is fully present for what is going on around us throughout our day? More importantly, what would Jesus do?
The message of this year’s World Communications Day was “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter.” It’s that simple – online communications and new media should be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter, not the other way around. We should be focused on encountering people in our everyday lives and then using social media as an accompaniment to that.
In his comments for World Communications Day, Pope Francis said, “communication is ultimately a human rather than a technological achievement.” We must not be consumed by technology and our online achievements, rather we should focus on our offline human interactions.
Pope Francis continued, “The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us.” While social media can help us stay in touch with friends and family, it is isolating us from the people that are closest to us – our neighbors.
Why is it that we are more connected than ever, but we feel more alone than ever? Maybe we wouldn’t be so lonely if we took a step away from our devices and started living our lives and building relationships with people in our everyday lives.
As much as online communications can help us connect with people, it also isolates us and fails to help us build true human relationships. Instead of trying to fix the problem by consuming less online communications, we seek to consume more. Now there’s not only Facebook and Twitter, there’s Instagram, Pinterest, and countless other sites. Not to mention the rise in online dating.
We’re so desperate to connect with others that instead of working to build interpersonal relationships, we try to fill the void with even more online activity. We’re more connected than ever through social media, yet we’ve never felt more alone. It’s a great dichotomy.
But, we have the power to change things and set an example for the rest of the world. Imagine the impact it would have on the world if Catholics turned off their phones and disconnected from social media while in public and focused on being present and interacting with others.
Catholics, “look up” from your phone and “check-in” to the beautiful opportunities that this life provides. You never know who you will meet or what you will learn from the others in your everyday life.
Make an effort to “look up” from your phone while you are on your way to work or standing in line at the coffeeshop. Be present in those moments and engage others, or just take some time to think (and even pray). The world is such a busy and loud place that it’s often difficult to find time to be still and think.
Catholics, we have an opportunity, and more importantly a responsibility, to be an example of what being Christian looks like. Social media can be a powerful tool, but we cannot allow it to consume our lives.
“Look up” from your phone and be present to those around you. You only live once, and you don’t want to miss out.