Fake news. Dramatic, embarrassing debates. Social media…constantly. We’re all familiar with media and probably have some ideas on just how much it’s influencing our lives. But, what about our core spiritual health? Let’s talk about the manipulative nature of media and how it’s molding our true spiritual selves.
Media’s Manipulation and Addiction
“The Social Dilemma,” a trending Netflix documentary, dives into the depths of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other media outlets. Tristan Harris, former Design Ethicist for Google, shares how the tech world has changed to target our brains: “If something is a tool, it’s genuinely just sitting there, waiting patiently. If something is not a tool, it’s demanding things from you; it’s seducing you, manipulating you. It wants things from you. We’ve moved away from having a tools-based technology environment to an addiction and manipulation-based technology environment. Social media has its own goals and its own means of pursuing them by using your psychology against you.”
Media has become just as addictive as drugs—and it’s because the tech industry wants just that. They want to see just how much of your time—your life—you will give to them. “It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behavior and perception that is the product” (The Social Dilemma).
Once our perceptions have changed, it’s easy to let negative thoughts sink in and eat away at our souls. Your self worth is the main target here. The more we allow the number of likes or shares, or comments to affect our mood, the more we smother our spiritual light. Comparison, combined with addictive behavior, is sure to attract darkness into your life.
Use your freedom to choose.
Despite the bombardment of notifications, we still have the gift of choice. Muting, unfollowing, moderation…only you are in control of the ‘how long’ and ‘what kind.’ In a study on social media, Emily Weinstein wrote about the see-saw it creates: “Relational interactions contribute to both closeness and disconnection; self-expression facilitates affirmation alongside concern about others’ judgments; interest-driven exploration confers inspiration and distress; and browsing leads to entertainment and boredom, as well as admiration and envy.”
Give spiritual grades.
Not sure which media sources you should be muting and which you should be turning up? Next time you close an app, take ten seconds, and listen to your spirit. How does it feel? Open and loving? Closed-off and defensive? Begin to assign spiritual grades to media experiences. Anything getting a C or below should be removed from your media diet. Limit B’s and fill up on A’s.
Be true to you.
Every app we open directly influences us in that very moment—and for many moments to come. It’s up to us to develop self-control and make decisions regarding media that will invite light into our lives. Our souls long for nourishing media and positive connection, which can be found online. We must choose to look for the good and feed our spirits.
Most importantly, we can use our gift of choice to hush the harmful thoughts that target our self-esteem. You are much more than your number of followers. Remember: Your worth is not found online.