Against the ‘Church of Facebook’

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  July 13, 2017   

Cdl. Robert Sarah: "The screens glowing uninterruptedly try to bewitch the mind and the soul"

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Mark Zuckerberg, head of gigantic social media platform Facebook, is saying it should now replace church as man's source of inspiration in social outreach. Churchmen and scientists say, however, that instead of building community, Facebook actually keeps man from being face to face with family, friends and ultimately God.

The head liturgist for the Catholic Church, Cdl. Robert Sarah, is already set against social media robbing man of his silence. In paragraph 45 of his new book, Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, Cdl. Sarah discusses how the silence of the eyes, which is necessary to contemplate God present in the depths of man's soul, is being overcome by the dictatorship of the image. He writes, "[H]is eyes are red, haggard and sick. The artificial spectacles and the screens, glowing uninterruptedly try to bewitch the mind and the soul. In the brightly lit prisons of the modern world, man is separated from himself and from God."

Science agrees with the cardinal that the level of "noise" coming from social media is harming man's ability to have authentic relationships with God and neighbor. A study published this year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that increased use of social media is related to increased feelings of social isolation, depression, jealousy, low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority.

The study involved a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, as well as several others. It showed that when young adults age 19–32 spent more than two hours a day on such platforms, they were twice as likely to go away feeling socially isolated than persons, who spent less than a half hour a day using the same media. Likewise, those who visited these sites roughly eight times a day or more were three times more likely to feel socially isolated than persons, who visited the same sites only once a day.

Watch the panel discuss the dangers of misusing social media in The Download—Facebook Faith.


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