Pastor's Note - April 28
So there’s been a lot of talk about (and on) social media recently, what with Elon Musk purchasing Twitter and all. I don’t greatly care about the purchase itself. It does however highlight that social media companies are high dollar businesses, making a lot of people a lot of money. This is where I think Christians need to be wise. Remember that social media, in any form, is a business, and someone is profiting off of it. There’s an old adage—if a service is free, you are the product. I genuinely enjoy and appreciate many aspects of social media. But we must remember that, on every social media platform, we are the commodity. And here’s the particular point that I want to make, that recently was crystallized for me. In social media, your social interactions are the content being commodified. Think about that for a moment. Through all of human history, things like food, ideas, music, art, and all other things that humans may produce have been used to make money, and have been exchanged for other goods. But something more invasive and maybe pernicious is happening with social media. In social media spaces, your very relationships with other people are being monetized, whether you know it or not. Your relationships and interactions are the commodity, and others are making money off of it. It used to be that your relationships and social interactions, which are intimately tied with your personal well-being, were yours alone, and had no intrinsic monetary value (though certainly could be traded for social capital, should you choose). Now, on social media platforms, others are making money off of your social interactions, regardless of your choice. The more interactions you have, the more money is put in someone else’s pocket. This means that those others are invested in your social relationships, and the kinds of social interactions you have. This inherently changes the nature of your relationships – again, whether you realize it or not. Andy Crouch writes this better than I could; “what is new in social media is pulling ordinary social behavior—making, keeping, communicating with friends and community—into a commercial vortex… none of this is driven by the quest to advance ‘ordinary, embodied human existence. None of it.” So don’t be surprised if interactions across social media don’t feel natural, human, and spiritually beneficial. They’re not supposed to, because the platform themselves are not, at their fundamental cores, designed to foster healthy relationships. The platforms are designed to make someone money. They are not made for your health, but for someone else’s wealth. Christians are called to be wise, and our engagement on such platforms calls for wisdom, and the discernment to know whether or not our engagement on social media is good for our soul. Be wise as to your and your family’s usage of social media. Remember you, and your relationships, are being turned into a product.