Does “social” media bring us closer together or move us further apart?
Answer: Today’s question is
posed as a polarized “either-or” situation, but the answer must be
both. Social media can bring us closer together and/or further apart,
depending on the content of the messages. This realization is so simple
and obvious that it is sometimes forgotten or overlooked. Social media
are not the ends in themselves that they have become—the frenetic quest
for the latest hand-held device. They are, more importantly, virtually
instantaneous, electronic instruments for reflecting the pulse of human
consciousness: what we have on our minds, and more importantly, our
hearts. Nothing less and a whole lot more.
“We are all connected.” has become by now a pop psychology tag. It has
been repeated in a dozen movies. It has been used as a sensitive,
artistically rendered effective Bell telecom commercial. It is found in
some beautifully poetic lines from Mitch Albom’s best-selling novel,
The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2003).
But whatever the origin of the saying, it contains a profound
spiritual truth—a profound spiritual truth about the universality
of integral human consciousness; about the desire for the
organic and spiritual unity that is devoutly wished by a world that is
coming of age; about the longing for ties of solidarity to bind women,
men, youth and children together, all over this troubled planet.
At their worst, when used for cyber bullying, a type of psychological
terrorism, these media have led to the tragic suicides of the hounded,
shamed, exploited and relentlessly harassed. They are used to engage in
vicious gossip, to ruin reputations, and for purposes of the
sexual exploitation of women and children. They create conditions for
addictive behaviours to thrive.
But social media can create a virtual community that brings us closer
together, when they keep us in touch with old friends, family or new
acquaintances, by the sharing and exchanging of stories, sayings,
photos, posters, articles and personal news. Social media can help
create revolutions and influence election results. Social media work
best when pure hearts and informed, intelligent, creative minds use
them for the betterment of humankind. -