Trapped in a World Wide Web

Trapped in a World Wide Web

Billions of bits of information fly across social media every second. The internet, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snap Chat, and on and on it goes. Site after site dedicated to “con-necting” people online. On the surface it seems like harmless fun and a great tool when friends and family want to share their lives. After more than ten years, though, the effects can be seen of too much time in an alternate universe and virtual world.

The average American under the age of 35 is hyper-dependent upon their phone and social media. They risk their lives daily to text while driving and text and communicate online even when they are in the same room. Communication skills are dissipating as reading is replaced with scanning; spelling is replaced with auto correct; ideas, are replaced with trends; and emotions are reduced to emojis. Empathy is diminishing as the rate of face to face conversations ebbs. Bullying is on the rise for the same reason. It is easier to type cruelties when you won’t be faced with the persons live reaction and when you are in the privacy of your own room.

Sadly, with all the ways to “connect” people we are more isolated than ever. The irony is loneliness drives people to more social media which makes them feel more isolated. In the virtual world it appears every one else is living a full and care free life full of friends. Yet building friendships and heart connections has been reduced to building a large body of names under the heading, “Friends.” The more names, the more popular a person feels. True friendship takes time and personal investment in each others lives. Instead we scroll through the newsfeed making voyeuristic judgements and comparisons. A person’s actions must be validated by the number of “likes” they get on a post.

People who live for the next surge of social media attention are no longer living and present in their own lives. They are too busy documenting the most noteworthy moments and wondering what the virtual world will think. You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone taking a selfie. Just being in the moment is no longer enough. The social media beast must be continually fed new material in order to justify ones existence.

What about those not so noteworthy moments? Those serve instead to feed the lie that everyone else has a picture-perfect life except me. No one else is fighting with their spouse, struggling with their children, or feeling frustrated by life because these moments are not documented. Depression is on the rise. Low self worth and body image issues are off the charts. All the while hurting individuals seek to post the picture that will feed their need for validation.

Putting your best foot forward and needing validation are not new to the virtual world, these are issues we all faced growing up. It’s just that when we really do life together in a face to face way, we experience more balance seeing the good and the bad. Part of growing up is learning we are not the center of the universe and failure brings growth not death. We learn to invest in each other and trust can built when we open up and are vulnerable. Relationships grow and bloom in the messy parts of life not in the picture perfect moments. But in the fast paced, two dimensional world of the internet this maturing process is lost. More importantly, true connection and intimacy is dying on the vine. We were created for a deeper type of relationship.

Young men and women are trading in the true love and commitment of a live person for the cheap thrill of a two dimensional image. Too much virtual love and self gratification is causing impotency to rise in younger and younger men. Virtual sexuality is as damaging as virtual relationships. Because they exist mostly in the mind and the central figure is “ME”. It’s a breeding ground for narcissists, voyeurs, and sexual predators. I see the damage done every day at Hope After Betrayal. The internet is a siren call to self-centeredness and ultimately isolation.

I also see the power of community as women participate and share their pain. We provide a safe community where there is no judgment or comparisons. We simply share tools that help us heal from the deep betrayal. We come together bringing the good, bad, and the ugly. Validation comes when other women on the same path share what works and doesn’t work. Most of all, we bring God into each class as we see His powerful hand heal and Spirit teach. There are no phones, computers, or internet—just a safe place to do life together.

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