“Dear App, which art online, popular be thy title. Thy website be revealed. May thy words appear on my screen, as it is on my phone. Give us this day our daily email. And give us our comments, as we comment on others. And lead us not into slow wifi, but deliver us from boredom. For thine is the social media, and the likes, and the subscriptions, forever. Post.”
I used to think college students were very busy people. One heard of their schedules of staying up until the wee hours of the morning studying for an exam, preparing a lab report, or writing a fifteen page paper. For a high school student, writing more than five pages seemed daunting unless, that is, you had AP English in your weekly schedule. Extracurricular activities and college applications made us stay late into the night, but not into the morning!
Nevertheless upon finishing my undergraduate years did I realize the truth of the matter. It was correct that college students studied harder, wrote longer papers, and encountered stress in quantities previously unknown. It was true that the SAT’s were easy and that the preparation for other future tests were more overwhelming.
However, the counter perks were never revealed: the amount of free time, the environment of the liberal arts, taking classes called “Sociology of
American Cultural Development” (aka Watching Movies for class), the use of high speed internet (well at least, back then there was a marked difference), naps during the day, the illusion of what appeared to be free meals, no daily homework, and the increased frequency of encountering individuals of the opposite gender. (Non-Christians would feel inclined to mention other “perks” of which I would heavily disagree with.)
This phenomenon is so whether students attended the community college down the street or an Ivy League University in the Northeastern
United States. College students are simply a cohort of young individuals who are experiencing a shift in time management, their value hierarchies, intellectual ideologies, spiritual philosophies, and even culinary tastes (especially the extended toleration of “quick Italian-derived carbohydrate-based foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
This shift is the cause of many inconsistent habits for the college student, of which some never regain full control of until marriage (and then, some still don’t.) Arbitrary scheduling leads to the deterioration of accomplishing goals and projects that hold value for the individual. Success is based on “hit and miss” techniques, rather than systematic thought and action. No one is advocating for a robotic precision in life, but a simple ambiguous, disillusioned, randomness results in every aspect of the individual.
Combining this with deadlines of professors, the demands of responsibility from various organizations (including the church and family), and the heightened presence of culture, entertainment, and media imposed upon us, result in a cerebral, emotional, and spiritual breakdown of which many fail to recover from. Despite all these things, young people, especially college students, always find time to post on their blogs.
This world of blogs has become so prominent in our culture. For those above the age of 35 whose toddlers’ screaming prevent them from knowing what it is, a blog is a web log, shortened by combining the two words and hacking of the “we.” The blog has become a place where college students as well as young professionals of political and cultural influence have “de-stressed” their lives. Blogs range from political commentaries, where they frame their arguments in an informal tone in order to blast current presidents who are incompetent and borderline-tyrannical, to personal diaries where men and women post daily updates on weight-loss, baby pictures, and even comical observations of their dog.
As a youth pastor, it is interesting to read social media sites, comments, pages, and myriads more where individuals utilize, either consciously or subconsciously, the internet community to find some spiritual solace, mental order to their life, and avenue for catharsis to help resolve various forms of stress. Students are dying for lack of time, having no opportunity to call home, eat lunch, or even time to shower. However, these same students always find time to post!
High school students are blasting their families for causing some high level of social injustice; college students are posting up their semester schedules to proclaim either their stupidity for choosing a rigorous schedule or their intelligence for being able to tolerate a high demand; young professionals are criticizing high school or college students (as I am) or bemoaning the fact that they are not one themselves anymore (as I am not).
The ironic aspect comes when the community chimes in to convey their sympathy to their comments either by wishing them good intentions, offering pithy, cliché advice, and/or commenting with some cryptic response (lolfr, rotfl, g3sl, o1L3h). The comical aspect comes when the blogger
(definition: the one who types the blog) actually feels some sort of consolation and relief when the online community
shares in his/her misery. Surely “misery loves company” is located on these sites.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I myself have a blog and the medium of the blog itself is not being criticized. Rather, the dependence and for some, borderline blog addiction is a cause for apprehension. This is not a physical concern or even sociological, but rather a deep spiritual one.
If this online generation deals with the anxieties of life, stress, family problems, the lack of certainty, loneliness, and even the lack of temporal necessities through the medium of the blog, how sad is it that their only resolution is a mere comment or like, (two if you’re lucky). How depressing is it that the only solution bloggers can find is communal misery? How hopeless is it that the problems each human individual faces, high school to young professional, are merely stated, read, posted, and deleted, without an actual remedy to these human problems.
The time used to post a blog is better used by posting a prayer to God. No one is saying that posting a blog is sinful, but I am arguing in a time-pressed world, prayer is a more effective means to resolve the issues of the heart, more efficient means to solve the problems completely, and a more creative means to involve every component of your created human individuality and identity.
Prayer is for busy students. Prayer is for stressed professionals. Prayer is for those who have ambiguous goals in life and it is for those who seek success in every aspect of life. Prayer gives God access to your deadlines, to your families, to your political values, to your schedules, to your screaming toddler, and to your heart. God doesn’t leave a terse comment and His best jpeg profile of Himself. Instead He leaves a love letter that is 66 books long and an express image of Himself in the person and character of Jesus Christ. You no longer have an online community where multitudes of individuals in your same situation reply to you. You now have an offline community where One personal and intimate Individual Who knows your situation replies only to you. No longer does “misery loves company,” but “misery is abolished in His company” through the medium of prayer. God’s not calling you to write out to cyberspace or speak out into empty space, but asking you to enter not into Myspace, but Hisspace; not Facebook, but His book; not Twitter, but prayer.
So next time you post a blog, pray a prayer instead: addressed to God the Father, spoken as a normal personal conversation, claiming quotations by God from the Bible, catharsis optional, and signed off under the login name of Jesus Christ.
These posts cannot be deleted, but are made eternal by the great Amen (Rev 3:14) and continue on long after you have logged off.
(Adapted from the originally printed in The English Compass, January 2007)