Bathing in a Sea of Technological Narcissism
The Net used to be a tool for making friends, building odd sorts of artificial community, and researching one's interests. Today, the Net has taken a sharp turn away from community toward the self. This is especially prominent in the proliferation of sites like MySpace and Facebook, used predominantly by younger people, often without close parental supervision. Yet I'm not concerned in this particular blog about the issues of posting inappropriate photos and comments. I'm concerned with the sea of narcissism created by such sites, a sea in which countless young people bathe. It's a disgusting thing, really, when you consider it. Scores and scores of young adults showcasing themselves for all the world to see. Any sense of humility, modesty, and privacy is trampled by the self's lust for attention, and, if gilded fate would have it, fame. It's all very disheartening to see.
One of the most discouraging trends to me is the constant "profile updating" that goes on at sites like Facebook. I use Facebook, admittedly, but for the purpose of connecting with old friends. I thus have little occasion to "update my profile" and tell the world what I'm thinking, liking, crying over, and doing at any given moment. In addition, I have little need to change my profile picture on a daily or weekly basis, an action that seems based entirely on a desire to be seen and commented upon. It strikes me that Christians have yet to develop and apply a social networking ethic that might apply to such situations. There is a need to do so. Activities like Facebook updating--how hilarious that this could even be called an activity, but indeed it can--quickly leave a neutral state when one is constantly updating one's profile, constantly taking newer shots in more avant garde poses, constantly telling us what one had for supper. All of these activities done repeatedly and for the public constitute a serious form of narcissism that should necessitate repentance and spiritual action. We should not brush this off, but bring the gospel to bear on our Internet usage.
If you or fellow brothers and sisters fall into this category, repent before God and challenge yourself and them to change their Internet habits. Encourage one another not to be narcissistic and desperate for local celebrity as so much of the world is. We all have silly, fun, mindless, and even meaningful moments in life--but it's better for one's character to keep most of these to ourselves. Step out of the narcissistic sea and rediscover true community, true meaning, and others-first living. Live your life, and let Youtube and Facebook and all the others broadcast someone else's false celebrity to the world.