Electronics and Social Media: Power Tools for Good or Bad
I knew it wouldn’t be good when my friend said he wanted to play with the chainsaw. Starting it up with a roar, he smiled as the tool vibrated in his hands. He started out carefully, cutting through some loose branches near the ground. The saw could tear through wood like a hot knife through butter, and he quickly grew careless. It didn’t take long for a serious accident…
Fortunately, I’ve never witnessed this scenario. But the electronics and social media that you have access to are just as powerful as a chainsaw. (If you don’t agree, I’ll explain below). Regrettably, few people give these tools the same respect that they give to power tools, even though the effects have been just as horrible.
Raw power can be used for good or bad. Referring back to the chainsaw, it is easy to see the good use that such a tool can provide. While it may take you a number of hours to chop down a tall tree with an axe, you will save yourself time and effort (plus a few blisters) if you use a chainsaw.
At the same time, the power in a chainsaw can be devastating. A careless user could easily lop off several body parts. Without caution, a chainsaw can easily kill you. Power is that way – it is not necessarily bad. You just have to use caution.
The Power of Electronics and Social Media
I said that electronics and social media have the same power as a chainsaw. This may seem hard to believe, but the power is not physical power. It is the power of relationships, networking, and knowledge.
This power can be put to great use. Because of electronics and social media, some people have been able to start businesses online, work from home, and support their families. Wonderful friendships have sometimes been created. Social media allows users to unite – sometimes even bringing down corrupt governments in the process! There is no doubt that these are wonderful inventions that have done much good.
However, it would not be fair for me to stop with the benefits. There is also a downside. Families have been destroyed through electronics and social media. Fathers, mothers, and children have disconnected from each other. Employees waste millions of dollars by neglecting their work. The attention span of our society as a whole has been dramatically reduced. Spiritual lives have slowly been led to ruin by the distractions which these tools introduced. And I am not even talking about the downright evil uses of electronics and social media – the ability to access immoral and perverse material at any time.
When all these detriments are added up, electronics and social media play a huge part in the disintegration of society, family, and morality. More deadly than a chainsaw, they have caused immense damage.
You probably don’t think about the immense power you hold in your hand every time you log onto Facebook. In fact, you might be used to its destructive tendencies in your own life and the lives of others. How do you gain a newfound appreciation for this power, and use it wisely?
- Recognize the inherent power. Hopefully you already notice the incredible potential for good or bad that these tools are. Take a moment to think about how these ‘power tools’ have already helped you – the friends you have connected with, the information you have learned, the ease and convenience that they provide. But also recognize the damage that they can bring into your life. Are you willing, for example, for your family to fragment because you are more interested in these tools than in them? Are you willing for your spiritual life to fall apart as you are distracted from God’s Word by frivolous updates?
- Assess your use. Take a look at your life right now. Does the internet dominate your free time? Do you waste a significant amount of time on your smartphone? Are you more likely to scroll through Facebook, or read a real book, if you have twenty minutes? Questions like these are not meant to be guilt trips, but perhaps they can help you assess your use of these power tools. At this stage you want to see how much good and bad these tools are providing for you.
- Contemplate the ‘why.’ Now it’s time to ask yourself the question – ‘why should I use these tools?’ There are plenty of good answers. If you say, ‘just because I can,’ that is not a good answer. Would you use a chainsaw ‘just because?’ Of course not. It is dangerous. You would only use a chainsaw if you needed to. Perhaps you use Facebook so that you can foster relationships with distant relatives. Perhaps you use your email because it is quicker than talking on the phone. Whatever the reasons, be clear in your own mind why you use these tools.
- Create goals and accountability. Once you understand the ‘why,’ it is time to cut out the unnecessary uses. Perhaps you surf the web to learn world news, but find yourself wasting 30 minutes after. Set a goal of only visiting the websites that are informational, and give yourself 20 minutes each day to do this. Or maybe you come home from work and immediately plop down in front of the computer. You could set a goal of exercising with a friend each day immediately after work, filling up that free time that you normally waste.
Ultimately, it is important to use electronics and social media wisely because we are stewards of the time and resources that God gives us. These tools can be incredibly effective as we serve God, but they can also be powerful distractions from God’s work. The Bible doesn’t specify how much of our time should or should not be spent on a smartphone, but it does encourage us to invest our talents in God’s work, until the day when we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”