With the ever-multiplying options for social media platforms to engage with, influencers to follow, social trends to capitalize on, and stratifying social issues to research and form opinions about, getting away from our electronic devices can be harder than ever. And with those devices comes rampant temptation to engage with any and all kinds of information — good and bad, true and false, positive and negative. We may get caught up in scrolling endlessly, peering into the void of constant communication, retaining little.
In recent years, scrolling and what is referred to as doomscrolling have become major points of discussion in sociology, and even discussions regarding legislation. Scrolling relates to the compulsive or uninhibited engagement with online sources, especially social media. It can indicate a trance-like state of passive engagement and an addictive-like compulsion to engage with online content. Doomscrolling, on the other hand, is a particular version of scrolling that seeks out negative news.
When Jesus prayed His high priestly prayer to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane, He said, “I do not ask that you take them [my followers] out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:15–16). Jesus asks for God the Father to intervene to protect and guard His people from being influenced by the devil, to stand apart from the world. And so, Christians, or “Christ-followers,” must critically engage things in the world. Social media and scrolling may seem innocuous, but Christians are called to stand apart from what the world calls “good” and be thoughtful about our engagement.
Scripture tells us that the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22–24). When we engage with social media, we must employ these fruits of the Spirit. Paul exhorts us to “keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (5:25–26). How frequently do we fall into the trap of social media that encourages us to be conceited, provoke one another, and envy one another? Christian philosopher Douglas Groothuis explains in his article “Understanding Social Media” (https://www.equip.org/articles/understanding-social-media/) that “Facebook and related social media tend to foster the overexposure of the underdeveloped self by facilitating the mass distribution of text and images related to oneself” (emphasis in original). Groothuis likewise warns against gossip, narcissism, immodesty, and disconnecting from in-person relationships as a result of social media use. These are all important things to consider when weighing social media’s impact on one’s own life.