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Month 2:19, Week 3:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5936:048 AM
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 9 May 2012
Late Chag haMatzah 2012
5. Are Social Networks a Waste of Time?

    Continued from Part 6

      "But if you refuse to surrender, this is the davar (word) that Yahweh has shown me..." (Jer.38:21, NKJV).

    I've been thinking this morning (really early, I might add) about Facebook and other social support networks on the internet these days. For better or worse, I signed up to Facebook about a couple of years ago, set up some groups and have sought to share information about current affairs and the Besorah (Gospel). One of these groups, Messianic Evangelicals was to replace our former group in Ning which went commercial and necessitated a transfer. Every day I religiously post tons of articles and information which I feel are relevent to health, wealth, politics, prosperity and spirituality. And so too do the 2,000 of so cyber 'friends' of mine who keep growing in numbers.

    You, like me, doubtless like to follow who's reading what by checking up who's clicking that 'like' or 'share' button. I certainly like to know what people think about devotionals such as this one and to get feedback on comments. But really, how many people are actually being reached and how many people are being reached in depth?

    Recently I decided to follow some of my 'regulars' who click the 'like' button on articles as I posted them and concluded that the articles couldn't possibly be being read at all: the like button was being clicked within seconds of the articles being posted. The people concerned were simply looking at the titles, clicking 'like' and going on to the next one. Whether this was to show moral support or for some other reason I don't know but I do know that when I am preaching I don't want people to say 'Amen' at the end of a sermon who haven't been listening. What's the point of preaching, then?

    Social networking groups like Facebook are really great in tracing old friends and acquaintances and meeting new people. Sometimes they can be used to witness too. There is no doubt that there are big plusses to them if you know how to manage them wisely. But after a while you come to realise how dumbing down and time-wasting they can become too. Rather than talk to people in their local community - real life people in-the-flesh - all we're doing for the most part is 'meeting' them about as casually and superficially as possible. There is a huge electronic wall between us and them. And as your Friends list grows so you end up servicing hundreds or thousands of faceless people who are similarly barely interacting with hundreds of thousands of other faceless people.

    I am writing this at 4 am in the quiet wee hours wondering whether my time is being well spent or not. Scrolling through dozens of daily comments chews up a tremendous amount of time. Of my 2,000 or so 'friends' I probably only know a dozen at all well - the rest are just names and faces. It's a lot of effort and time for practically no useful purpose. Translate this into a business, if you're getting no returns and are basically just keeping the business alive, then you're in the wrong business. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

    Besides, with the new Internet Censorship laws coming it's clear that our time online as believers or political activitists may soon be numbered. In terms of the effectiveness of ministering to people I realised that I was reaching and helping more people before I plunged into Facebook. In the Social Networks everything gets spread out and diluted. It no longer becomes possible to stay focussed on anything. It's simply a place to drown in information or pretend you're taking it all in. Somewhere in all of this we're supposed to be actively and effectively witnessing one-to-one.

    Like most things, human beings tend to over-indulge so that what originally started out as a useful tool for keeping in touch and sharing emet (truth) has become an obsession. Before, when they were the 'new things', it was emails. I am still trying to keep afloat with emails and every now and then I drown and simply end up clearing the deck by doing a 'mass delete'.

    The bigger question is this: what has Yahweh designed us to be doing in this age of mass media communications? How should we best be living? Many think that throwing the internet in the waste basket is the best thing that could happen so that people can devote the better part of their efforts in local community. Humans are rapidly becoming alienated from each other by a cyberworld of phantom realities. Though I personally have never fallen for them, large numbers of social networkers get submerged in the endless plethora of games. Many get completely lost in them and are anxiously trawling lists of names hoping they will come and join. I have repeatedly asked people not to include me in their cyber fishing but no one listens.

    And where is all this going? What will things look like in ten years' time? Will we have completely descended into becoming mindless zombies hooked up to and controlled by a vast electronic network taking over more and more of our brain functions and social obligations? Will we have forgotten how to properly socialise altogether? What will we have dismissed from our lives that the Bible says is actually of importance?

    There is no doubt that people are not mentally and emotionally maturing like they used to in bygone generations. We are getting trapped into a kind of never-ending childhood where we devolve more and more responsibility to government and an ephemeral electronic 'family' people-at-a-distance (a bit like government, actually) that has no depth. We are forgetting what it is to be human.

    Though I think online social networks like Facebook are helpful if you know how to keep your daily interface with it to reasonable time quota, I am progressively finding it numbing and counter-productive to ministry. Indeed the internet has long ceased to become a tool to help us manage reality but has become a false substitute reality. It has become the place for the slave-class to be defined and to get their daily pixel fixes. It may appear alive but really it is not. The medium has become our substitute for each other and for Elohim (God).

    And we all know why we are attracted to the likes of Facebook instead of dealing with people in the real world: it requires so much less EFFORT, RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY and RISK-TAKING. After all, you can't just 'delete' someone in real life, can you? At least, not as easily as the click of a mouse button.

    I even wonder about all the writing I do and how much of that is a substitute, both for the writer and the readers who actually get past looking at the title before they click 'Like'. I have come close to ditching Facebook several times in the last few months and I am coming close again. And when that happens, I know I almost certainly will ditch it altogether in the not-too-distant future.

    As our world rapidly changes and evolves politically, economically, socially and spiritually, will you tag along with the masses and be dragged into goodness-knows-what dark hole of despair? Or will you stand apart from the sheeple and ride against the current in the only power that will enable you to successfully do so, in Yahweh-Elohim, King of this Universe?

    There is no doubt that this Roman month of May is going be - and already is - a critical one of for the world. Yesterday, 67 years ago, in the town of Rheims, France, the Second World War ended in Europe. And today is being celebrated by the EU criminal Úlite as 'Europe Day' as it was the day in 1950, 62 years ago, when Robert Schuman proposed a creation of a United European State. One system of totalitarianism is being replaced by another. Today Russia also celebrated its 'Victory Day'.

    For us, today is the 5th day of the Second or Late Chag haMatzah as those given a second opportunity to repent and get their lives set in order consider their ways and make important decisions in their lives for it is the 'Yom Teruah' part of this festival: if you're not under covering by now, you're in trouble because tomorrow is a day of judgment.

    Surrender now!

    Continued in Part 8

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