Facebook’s recent massive outage was a wake-up call for many on just how dependent society has become on social media. Barna reports that just over one-third of United States adults, 34%, reads the Bible once a week or more, but two-thirds use social media. Pew Research reveals that 31% of adults in the U.S. say they are online almost constantly. Another study details that the average adult spends three hours per day on social media. The amount of time dedicated to Facebook and Instagram is nearly sickening as most of us mindlessly engage, not even aware we are doing so.
We, as a society, have a dependency on social media apps. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok – the list goes on and is ever-growing. A Pew Research survey reported that seven in ten Facebook users say they visit the platform daily, including 49% who say they use the site multiple times a day.
Our collective addiction and reliance on these apps rang true during Monday’s 6-hour interruption. The pause in scrolling resulted in a variety of responses as some panicked and crafted conspiracy theories, while others felt free from the chains that social media binds them to and took this as a much-needed break.
It’s not just our entertainment that is tied to Facebook and other apps but even our economy – an intimidating thought. Small-business owners felt the ripple when communication with customers was cut off, live stream events were canceled and sales were lost – reiterating how our livelihood revolves around social media. Among the platforms that were inaccessible was WhatsApp, typically used for international correspondence. Business professionals were unable to connect with partners and clients worldwide, hearing the silence and not being able to do anything about it.
The irony of the interruption following a “60 Minutes” segment where a whistleblower exposed Facebook leadership did not go unnoticed. We are all too aware that Facebook chooses the most reactionary content to put in front of its members. However, the dangers and consequences of this method is that content that is hateful, polarizing or even misinforming is what is being shared and most optimized. Wanting to be as profitable as possible, Facebook continues to value harmful content over emphasizing user safety because they know it will gain more traction.
“It is easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions,” said Facebook Director of Policy Communications Lena Pietsch.
We must challenge ourselves to consider why we spend our precious time scrolling through conversations and images that are degrading, negative and leave us feeling less than. Imagine if we filled our minds with life-giving and positive content that had the ability to transform our lives. Instead of feeding the already rampant comparison and crippling anxiety that plagues our nation through platforms that make all of this worse, we would find a space that facilitates encouraging content.
I have a radical thought – what if we, as a nation of believers, were as dependent on God’s Word as we are our social media feeds? Can you imagine spending three hours every day engaged in Scripture, filling your mind with the truth?
Our world is hurting, especially young adults and teens who are looking for connection, approval and worth. Social media is still in its infancy but studies are already showing that much harm can be traced back to social media and its impact on our mental health. There are positive ways for social media to be used but the creators behind the platforms and content need to be held accountable and place the wellbeing of the users above profit. It’s why we created Tome, the world’s first video-based devotional app. We wanted to bring users encouragement from guides ranging from celebrities, athletes and everyday people among more that is relatable and honest, pointing people to Christ through Scripture and sharing personal experiences.
In fact, “The State of the Bible 2020” report from Pew Research, reveals that 67.8% of American adults are “Bible curious,” meaning they want to know more about Scripture. The desire is there, people want to learn about the Bible but we are distracted and have formed the habit of turning to social media instead of the Word of God.
No matter how you choose to engage with Scripture, my challenge to you is this: Rather than focusing on things that inspire you to hatred, rage, jealousy and coveting, why not shift your focus to biblically-based content that can revolutionize our culture with a roar for God? Imagine how this simple shift could change not only your own life but the world.
Chris Heaslip is the co-founder of Tome, the world’s first video-based devotional that provides new content every day. Tome is a resource that helps users navigate the Bible and apply it to their lives through specific categories and videos led by guides ranging from celebrities, faith leaders, athletes, theologians and everyday people of faith who share real and honest stories of their personal experiences. To learn more visit https://tomeapp.com/.