Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are an integral part of our society. They also contribute to our isolation and loneliness. As a result, many people think the answer is to quit social media, but canceling our accounts is not the answer. In Unfriend Yourself: Three Days to Detox, Discern, and Decide About Social Media (Moody, 2012), Kyle Tennant provides some simple strategies to use social media effectively.
Social media gets criticized for creating a lot of disconnect within our culture. Critics of social media platforms often claim the sites contribute to our society’s disconnect. They add that people already struggle to communicate well due to the inability to maintain eye contact or their short attention spans. As a result, communication is no longer genuine or intimate. However, Tennant claims social media itself is not bad; our use of Facebook, Twitter, etc., contributes to our disconnection. Tennant’s claim begs the question, “how should we use social media to end our loneliness and isolation, or at all?” Tennant provides two suggestions to this question.
Social Media is a Supplement
According to Tennant, we should use social media to “supplement” our relationships. He believes that we should never use social media to communicate with any individual primarily. Social media is an artificial form of communication that lacks intimacy but can coordinate intimate events. Therefore, we should not terminate our social media accounts but wisely use them to enhance our real-world relationships through these virtual tools.
Social Media Should Glorify God
Tennant also wrote Unfriend Yourself for practical and for spiritual purposes. He believes that social media can help supplement our intimacy with God and our neighbors. Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Humans need intimacy with one another and with God. Social media intentionally allows us to connect others to Christ. It is more than just entertainment. We should then strive to avoid negativity because this hurts our Christian testimony while separating our intimacy with God and others.
God personally connected with us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, because He wants intimacy with us and us with another. Our social media involvement shows that we do long for connection. We don’t need to quit social media, we can use it to foster genuine intimacy through face-to-face contact, phone calls, or even writing letters. Let’s be more optimistic and strategic than passive or negative with our social media use!