23 Mar Taming Oneself on Cyberspace
Digital space has become the omnipresent backdrop of everyday life. We live in a world where the world is merged and brought to our finger tips. Gone are the days of outings , picnics, outdoor fun games, family talks, cards, family get togethers, etc- now it is a world of digital space with digital games, virtual dating, a thousand apps, e-study, e-books, e-cards, etc. Smart phones are ubiquitous and is the most pervasive technological device on planet earth. With around 300+ million mobile users in India, the increased use of gadgets is sometimes threatening the very fabric of quality relationships and on the other hand strengthening virtual meets, meetings and relationships. Smart phones have become an emotional crunch.
The functionalities of digital media are an everyday development. It is a revolutionary technology that keeps getting smarter and smarter. There are over 2 million apps on Google Play Store and also numerous productivity apps available for usage. The GPS allows people to locate addresses and areas around the world. Online education, zoom platforms were made the most available to us during the Covid Era. In one sense, digital space has brought the world closer through a click. There are huge advantages that come with using digital space and just as every coin has another side to it- digital space has its cons too.
The ramification of clicking on various links may seem slight without knowing that web designers have spent years in finding ways to keep you hooked to the net.
Satan has spinned his most eloquent web through all of these. More than a decade ago- the concept of “tempting the click” was articulated. It just means keeping the prospect coming back for more and keeping the viewer nailed to digital space for many hours. The visual stimulants have increased and sexual content burgeoned. Web designers have succeeded in keeping us prey to the cyber world. Dr. Manoj Sharma, Associate Prof. of Clinical Phycology says- “People have become addicted to digital technology without even realizing it”
E-lies and E-messages, dating apps, gaming apps are other traps that lure people into cyber space. E-lies are very much quotidian in the social media. We wallow in the unethical, immoral conduct over social media that subtly eats our time. These gadgets seem to make them euphoric and the absence of them make them miserable.Youngsters spend the wee hours of the morning in the visual world obsessively playing games, surfing, making reels, chatting, on dating apps, online stores, etc. Around 73% of Indian urbans connect the internet through their smart phones, 63% professionals wake up to look at their smart phone first thing in the morning.
Visual ethics are neither taught to children by teachers, at home by parents or in church by pastors. Our children need to be taught to use proper filters and keep a guard over their eyes( Ps 119:37). Sexual content is huge on internet, pornography is glorified in this world.
A lifestyle of careless viewing reveals the ignorance of the power of temptation. How true it is that- “the mighty doors of change swing on the tiny hinges of discipline”- Ken Windee.
WHO has classified addiction into two main categories. They include substance abuse (drugs, alcohol) and the other being Behavioural addiction ( smart phone addiction). The wide prevalence of media addiction causes various symptoms
Some symptoms of smart phone addiction
1. Selfitis- taking more than 20 selfies per day
2. Phantom Vibration syndrome- a person feels the vibration even when the phone isn’t vibrating
3. Narcissism- decreased output at work due to insomnia and overuse of digital media
4. FOMO- Fear Of Missing Out (happens due to low self esteem)
5. FAD, IAD- Facebook, Insta Addiction Disorder
6. SMD- Social Media Addiction
7. Nomophobia (fear of losing one’s mobile)
8. Unnatural craving and compulsion (to answer or view immediately)
9. Depressive and manic symptoms
10. Suicidal tendencies
11. Real time relationship issues
12. Porn addiction (83% among youngsters)
Having any of the above symptoms means that humankind is into this trap of addiction. It takes a toll on mental health, nibbles at time, steals real time relationships and lures one away from the Lord.
There is certainly no quick fix solution to this problem. Abstinence isn’t feasible. Our fellowships, our relationships , our education, our bank accounts, our lives itself revolve around this device. We need to wield the authority that God has given over this device and use it for the glory of God.
Steps on monitoring your online lifestyle as a disciple of Christ
1. Match your online life with your offline beliefs
2. Use trusted web training sites (OnguardOnline.gov; staysafeonline.org ; safefamilies.org
3. Use authorised web filters – high security packages
4. Have accountability partners
5. Take resolutions on online time management
6. Cultivate digital hygiene (time on viewing )
7. Flee from temptation (2 Tim2:2)
8. Read and practice God’s word (2 Tim 3:16,17)
9. Make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1)
10. If you have sinned, pray and bounce back on walking with God (Ps:51:1,2,5,7,9)
11. Discipline yourself in the area of using this device ( Eph 5:15-17)
12. If you feel that you are struggling with addiction, share your struggle with a mentor or a small fellowship group
13. Practice digital sabbath (do not use device one day in a week)
14. Fear the Lord and shun evil (Prov. 8:13)
15. Walk differenty from the gentiles (Eph. 4: 17-24)
16. Surf good websites for educational purposes
17. Read good informative E-books, magazines
Excessive use of gadgets brings spiritual ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) distracting us from Christ and the fellowship. It is imporatant to examine ourselves every minute in the light of His word and use our God given gadgets for His glory alone. As believers we need to be actively engaged in cyberspace and not retreat from it. We need more cyber ambassadors for the Lord in this decaying cyber world of ours.
Dan Andrew, “Taming the media monster” Cincinette, St Anthony Messenger Press 2003 .
Daniel Lorrmann, “Visual Integrity”, Authentic Media, Secunderabad, AP 2008