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Life In Pixels – Examining Technology’s Complicated Effect On Humanity

“If you spend too much time scrolling through everyone else’s life, you forget to live your own.” – Christine Caine

I just returned home after seeing the new film “The Circle”. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it. Yet, I have to say one thing: wow. Such a challenging film, full of questions, ideas, and convictions. In case you’re not aware of the synopsis, Tom Hanks is a faux Steve Jobs-like figure and Emma Watson is a wide-eyed girl working at “The Circle” with great ambition and unlimited potential. The script is well written, the ideas are engaging, and you leave the movie with more questions than answers. The film sparked a thought in me that I believe is something very, very important for our present Information Age: does technology (in this case, its effects on humanity’s right to privacy) always make our lives better?

Better. It’s a word. A word that has caused wars over the shiny things that bewitch the eyes. It’s a word that has torn apart marriages in pursuit of a new thrill. It’s a word that makes modern day youth feel inferior to their perfect looking friends on social media. Better, better, better…

A friend recently suggested I write about technology and its effects on humanity. Honestly, I’m waaaaayyyy too under qualified to take a deep-dive into such a complex topic, despite my love for sci-fi and technology. However, I do love to discuss the mysteries of the human spirit, the never-ending search for God, and our desperate need for love. So, with that in mind, I couldn’t help but write this post right after seeing such a compelling film…

I have made some great friendships through social media, particularly Twitter. There’s something about Twitter that invites others into a conversation more than any other platform…Maybe that’s why I like it – words and succinct thoughts (140 characters can be a beautiful thing). Many people say stupid stuff like, “Make real friends, not fake ones on the internet…” Sadly, those people are missing out on the real friendships that can be made virtually, as well. I can personally say that my life has been positively impacted by my closest friends on social media.

Friendships are real when there is the human connection, not when two people are in the same room. Oftentimes, two people in the same location may as well be halfway across the world from one another without a means of communication. Proximity doesn’t equate to intimacy.

However, there’s this other thing about social media and our virtual reality that is tearing the human spirit apart: lies. Smile at the camera with only your best side! Pucker those lips! Suck in that gut! Show folks the awesome time you’re having right after that fight you had 10 minutes earlier. Make sure you insta that gram of you at the gym, conveniently forgetting to inform your admirers of the Doritos you devoured a few hours earlier. Lies, lies, and more lies…

The soul longs for truth. Our hearts yearn for what is real, which is why our hearts ache and burn when something true is revealed to us, even in unexpected settings (like a movie theater).

The most meaningful moments I’ve had on social media have come through an honest conversation with someone about pain, broken dreams, the journey with God, and wanting more than merely existing. The most forgettable moments have been when I put up a picture of me looking awesome, as if my life is perfect. Those mean nothing to me anymore, honestly…

Technology can make us want the newest, the greatest, and the most bestest things that we really don’t need (yes, I did say “most bestest”). Technology has given us more information about more worthless crap more frequently than ever. We’ve seen tragedy projected through pixels so often that we’ve become completely numb to the pain. We’ve seen it a million times! It’s nothing new! There’s no shock value! It’s as if it’s all a big show.

We are wired (pun intended) to look for truth, to seek relationship, and to love. When technology gives us that opportunity to engage with others, then I believe that it is an incredible benefit to humanity. When technology paints a utopian picture of profile-picture-lives, that’s when it loses its humanity. When we’re being sold a bunch of crap, rather than seeking to serve one another, we become more android than human.

How do you use technology?

Do your social media accounts make you look like you’ve got your act together, or are you being intentional about building authentic relationships?

Have you become consumed with getting more information that you’re forgetting to live your own life?

As you look into the screen in your hands to read this, ask yourself: is the person you present yourself to be through that device the same person who is currently holding it?