Can you name the uses for social media? It is an enjoyable way to stay connected to distant friends and family, share pictures and ideas, snarky jokes, thought provoking articles, and positive quotes.
I was reading an article in Sojourners magazine about journalism in the age of social media and all the events that we cannot unsee when it appears on the media platforms we follow. Who can scrub the image of the Syrian refugee children washed ashore in Libya in 2015? Or the picture of the little girl and the vulture or the “falling man”? These iconic images are seared into our brains and hearts. Once we see them we cannot unsee them.
It can be overwhelming to discover the hurting world is literally appearing in the palm of our hands. Compassion fatigue can quickly overtake us when there are so many distressing stories to follow, but we must be aware of the world around us. In addition, the uptick in racism, misogyny, and disrespectfulness seems to abound.
It appears that society is preoccupied with the “theology of glory that calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is." --Martin Luther, from the Heidelberg Disputation. Yet Luther’s words seem as relevant today as they were 500 years ago. The words call us to ferret out the truth and act.
The magazine article continued by mentioning the need for religious journalists to offer clear eyed truth but they face hazards too; anxiety, depression, PTSD or alcoholism. To a lesser degree those who read the articles find themselves affected in similar ways.
The piece in Sojourners caught my eye. For the last day or so, I’ve been asking myself why do I want to share about this? Today’s Food for The Flock is as much lament as it is a call to responsibility. I think social media is useful. It can isolate us from real people, it puts an overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips, but like the religious journalists we have a responsivity, a moral imperative to participate wisely and thoughtfully.
Like you, I know “haters are going to hate”. I don’t want to be a part of that. I am weary of the vitriol and hatred. Compassion and the care of others could be the focus. Social media is a great platform for public exchange; it is the new watering hole, the community square, or gathering spot. It can be a place where truth is promoted, understanding, and compassion abound. I invite you to wrestle with these issues and join the conversation.