The time of Advent reminds me to wait, wait, wait. Yet my social-media habit encourages me to hurry, hurry, hurry. This December I’ve found these modes–of waiting and of hurrying–are at odds. While I am happy to be connected to so many friends and family through social media, I fear my round-the-clock digital connectedness is distracting me from a deeper relationship with the people in my life and with God.
I am connected to friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting, so I am never alone. I am beginning to wonder if this constant social media chatter is drowning out my ability to listen to the “still, small voice” of God, which may require solitude and communion. For example, during Advent, in years past, I would attend a Wednesday night Space for Grace candlelight service. Now I do Advent by scanning devotional emails on my smart phone as I walk to work from the subway.
It’s worth considering that if I detach from my smart phone and all the tangles of social media, I might notice the Christmas lights, the beautiful diversity of New York’s people, and the wonders of the season. I might begin to anticipate the birth of Christ. I might duck back into church for candlelight and quiet.
Away from the immediate gratification of Facebook and Twitter, I might regain a healthy solitude to feed my soul. How do social media impact my soul? “Does it (digital media) grow your soul?” asked William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry,who paraphrased Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite question. I am not sure.
Mary Coudal is a writer living in New York City. This is part one of a two-part reflection on slowing down and quieting social media chatter.
Photo by Jason Howie. Used with permission.