Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What Does It Profit a Person to Gain 'Likes' but Lose Their Soul?

My back yard, slipping into the abyss

There are authentic people on social media. These people know who they are, and are not trying to be someone other than who they are.

On the other side, there are those who fabricate false selves, personas, on social media. For research on this, see Donna Freitas, The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost

One of Freitas's interviewees is a student named Michael. Michael says "social media is all about performance - a performance of your "self" in an effort to impress other people... It's all about the 'likes.' It's all about, 'What can I do to show everybody else how great my life is?'" (Freitas, Happiness, p. 20)

Michael believes most people on social media are "inauthentic."

Inauthentic. From the Greek word autos, which means "self." Not one's true self. Unreal.

Inauthenticity puts the spiritual life on life support. The inauthentic self slip-slides down to the netherworld of the abyss of fantasy. The oh-so-prescient Thomas Merton wrote, decades ago:

"It is not only human nature that is “saved” by the divine mercy, but above all the human person. The object of salvation is that which is unique, irreplaceable, incommunicable—that which is myself alone. This true inner self must be drawn up like a jewel from the bottom of the sea, rescued from confusion, from indistinction, from immersion in the common, the nondescript, the trivial, the sordid, the evanescent. 

We must be saved from immersion in the sea of lies and passions which is called “the world.” And we must be saved above all from that abyss of confusion and absurdity which is our own worldly self. The person must be rescued from the individual. The free son of God must be saved from the conformist slave of fantasy, passion and convention. The creative and mysterious inner self must be delivered from the wasteful, hedonistic and destructive ego that seeks only to cover itself with disguises. 

To be “lost” is to be left to the arbitrariness and pretenses of the contingent ego, the smoke-self that must inevitably vanish. To be “saved” is to return to one’s inviolate and eternal reality and to live in God." (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, pp. 40-41)

What does it profit a person to gain "likes" but lose their soul?

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My two books are:


Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

I'm working on:

How God Changes the Human Heart.

Technology and Spiritual Formation.