One of my favorite reads of the past couple years has been The Digital Cathedral, by Keith Anderson. This book shares the powerful reminder that our digital age provides many more opportunities to connect with others and serve them, even from afar.
I was reminded of the importance of this over the past several months. A college classmate and fellow choir member of mine suffered the tragedy of her son taking his own life. It seems that through tragedy God provided the opportunity for me to reach out to someone that was hurting with compassion, words of comfort, and God’s love and reminders of His faithfulness even amidst sorrow. While her husband is not on social media, I was able to send messages through my classmate to let him know that he was in my prayers as he struggled with this loss.
If I had not been on Facebook, I doubt whether I would ever known about this event. Furthermore, I would not have had a method to reach out to those that were hurting. Therefore, social media was a real blessing in this situation.
Over the past several months I have seen many people disappear from social media. Some feel that the cultural and political vitriol has left them so jaded about the technology that they leave for their own peace of mind. Others find services such as Facebook as something added to an already busy life and take a break for their own sanity. in addition, concerns about manipulations of news feeds and algorithms abound. To be fair, I completely understand why people make these decisions, and everyone needs to reflect and do what is right for them.
However, I do believe those people who disengage are missing out. They are missing out on the opportunity to make a connection with someone that would not have been possible for them in the past, and to serve that person. Today, our world is our Digital Cathedral — a virtual space where we can touch the lives of others through care, compassion, and encouragement.
We don’t all have to do the same thing. We don’t all have to engage on social media. But we all should be reflecting upon the place of new technologies and services in society and how they can be used to serve others.