Can Delight Be "Consummated" on Social Media?

(Joshua Spare) #1

I recently heard the remark in regards to posts on social media, “one person’s happiness is another’s jealousy.” I was struck by two thoughts:

First, how true is this! There have certainly been times when, upon seeing or reading about other’s achievements or accolades, rather than rejoicing with them, I was simply reminded of my failures and shortcomings.

And second, I was reminded of CS Lewis’ insight regarding things which we enjoy in his Reflections on the Psalms:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

Let me share a story to unpack what I see in this insight from Lewis. I was recently watching the soccer (football) match between Liverpool and Bayern Munich. I am supporter of Liverpool, and try to take opportunities to watch the matches in the company of fellow supporters. In this case, I was watching the match by myself. This was the second of two legs between these teams, the outcome of this match determined who would progress to the quarterfinals. In any case, it was a very intense match, but in the end, Liverpool managed to eke out the win, much to my joy.

Now, at each of the goals, and in the final celebration of the win, I was exuberant. It was indeed a bit strange to find myself cheering in a room by myself as players thousands of miles away kicked a ball around a patch of grass. Nevertheless, as I celebrated, my one inclination was to share this joy with someone else - to text or call someone, to celebrate with someone, to find another supporter with whom I could share this enjoyment.

I apologize for the silly example, but I think that it gets to the image that Lewis is suggesting: when we have something that we enjoy, the consummation, not merely the expression or even the amplification, of the enjoyment is found in sharing it with others.

So, assuming that Lewis is right in this, my thoughts return to the initial comment regarding social media that “one person’s happiness is another’s jealousy.”

In no particular order, here are a number of questions that occurred to me in light of these reflections:

  • Is social media the appropriate platform through which to share our accomplishments or achievements or are we simply contributing to other’s discontentment?
  • In sharing the object of our enjoyment via a social media platform, is even possible for that to be a legitimate consummation of that enjoyment, as Lewis suggests, or does it require more physical company and fellowship?
  • As we engage with others on social media, how can we train our hearts and minds to properly respond to expressions of enjoyment with reciprocal delight rather than jealousy?

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these ideas, or if you have more questions that come to mind, I would love to ponder those as well! May God give all of us more wisdom and a greater ability to love!

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(SeanO) #2

@jspare Looking forward to hearing others’ thoughts. While doing some digging for papers this popped up and I thought of this thread.

“More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?”

The social network site Facebook is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that is changing the nature of social relationships. Anecdotal evidence, including information described in the popular media, suggests that Facebook may be responsible for creating jealousy and suspicion in romantic relationships. The objectives of the present study were to explore the role of Facebook in the experience of jealousy and to determine if increased Facebook exposure predicts jealousy above and beyond personal and relationship factors. Three hundred eight undergraduate students completed an online survey that assessed demographic and personality factors and explored respondents’ Facebook use. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis, controlling for individual, personality, and relationship factors, revealed that increased Facebook use significantly predicts Facebookrelated jealousy. We argue that this effect may be the result of a feedback loop whereby using Facebook exposes people to often ambiguous information about their partner that they may not otherwise have access to and that this new information incites further Facebook use. Our study provides evidence of Facebook’s unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships.

It brings up the whole idea of envy and jealousy that can be aroused by exposure to other ways of living. Chasing after the Jones’ gets taken to a whole new level when you are exposed to the most successful people within a broad area - especially when they only portray the best parts of their lives. I had never thought of the specific content of this paper though…

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(Andrew Bulin) #3

@jspare, I was right with you… right until @SeanO posted that article! Now I’m leaning on the side of pessimism. :^P

I’d love to share my successes, and hope that others are built up by it, but I guess I may sometimes be boasting about my self for self-edification. And then if others are doing better, I can see how that could make one feel disappointed with their own life.

Maybe that’s why Paul warned not to boast about oneself (1 Cor. 1:31, 2 Cor. 10:17, Gal. 6:14). He quoted this from the prophet Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 9:23-24 NASB
[23] Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; [24] but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.

I wonder if that is possible to capture in a social platform (besides Church?). Maybe we have it here? :slight_smile:

May His name be praised!

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(SeanO) #4

@andrew.bulin You know, one approach that might work is not making our profiles public for strangers to see. If we keep our social media profiles only visible to those who are genuinely invested in our lives, then they can celebrate along with us rather than being led into envy. Also, I do not think that we are accountable for other peoples’ envy simply because we are enjoying life and sharing that with friends, though I do agree we must avoid boasting.

The article I posted probably only applies to those who already have social turmoil in their life. I imagine that social media amplifies certain issues if they already exist? In contrast, people who are generally peaceful and cordial and have harmonious relationships might be able to use social media to amplify good rather than evil???

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(Joshua Spare) #5

That article, @SeanO, certainly does paint a rather bleak picture of Facebook drawing its users down a scary, dark hole! And I’m right with you, @andrew.bulin; I am exceedingly pessimistic in all of this! I suppose in some manner, I’m attempting to find some reason to justify how it could even be possible to conceive of our enjoyment being fulfilled in and through social media, and it really is seeming quite impossible to me!

Having said that, our forms of communication are shifting, and these forms now include social media. Can we redeem our usage of social media platforms such that they can be utilized in the proper consummation of a delight, or do you think that it is fairly well doomed from the get-go?

I wonder if part of the problem lies in the ever-expanding circle of acquaintances and ever-shortening list of actual friends - the Facebook phenomena of knowing what is going on with all of your class-mates from high school, but having very little substantive relationship with any of them. It would seem much easier to have jealousy for someone with whom I am only acquainted than with someone with whom I have a very genuine relationship. And in that way, it is perhaps quite difficult to attain the appropriate reciprocation of delight when posted on social media because we do not have the requisite baseline relationship that would give substance to the reciprocity of delight.

And yet, I have a hard time conceiving of sharing a substantial delight over social media with a person with whom I have a genuine relationship - isn’t it far more likely that I will tell them in person, or call them, or text them? Which brings me back to what Andrew said - why bother even posting on social media, as it seems like an inevitable boast.

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(SeanO) #6

@jspare Now I want to do a sociological study myself to see what the data shows - just need to get the funding :slight_smile:

I’ve known people who liked social media and they did not, from my external perspective, appear to be boasting. However, I’m not sure that it is time well spent either, so even if a particular person is not boasting, is it still a black void taking a person away from more meaningful relationships / tasks?

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(Whitney Bowman) #7

I’m sorry for the delay in joining this—I wanted a bit of time to think on it, and then got lost in midterms. I agree with everything that has been said so far, and I’ve drawn much encouragement from this thread. I daily find myself struggling with the balance of social media and purposeful, “real-world” living.

However, as I’ve mulled over the influence of social media in my life, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve been using social media by the world’s standards and ignorantly expecting different results. I do at times wish social media didn’t exist. I can’t help but longingly wonder what life was like in a time without even a concept of the web or texting or Facebook. But the reality is it does exist, and if I’m honest it has a pretty big influence over my life. When I’m not diligent, it is a poor use of time and a thief. I’ve employed some of the suggestions mentioned above these past few weeks, and they’ve helped immensely. As I’ve mulled over this post and how technology has shaped my own life and my walk with Christ. I didn’t like much of what I found. However, there are some qualities I’ve found helpful, that at the least kept me from rejecting the null hypothesis and cutting it off completely.

In “face-to-face” interactions with others, I’d count the experiences, insights, and questions that others share into their lives is a gift and a blessing. There is likely a bit of bias between what is portrayed on social media and reality. However, if we can cast that measurement error aside, I wonder to some degree if social media (intentionally or not) still manages to reflect our values and offer a gift/glance into one another’s lives? I don’t regularly see people I attended high school with, and regret I’m often heedless in that I need a chance Facebook post to remind me to pray for them. At a time where I was trying to figure out if Christianity was true (and greatly hoping it was), I could tell on social media a handful of people in my life not only lived their lives differently but saw life through a completely different lens—and they probably didn’t even realize their posts were different, but they were. They were people I had interacted with in real life through high school FFA programs, but we lived in different parts of the country and lost contact with each other. Recently, I’ve also drawn encouragement from using social media as a platform to access articles and posts shared by Christian ministries and other believers—articles I probably wouldn’t have followed as diligently otherwise. And I also can’t ignore the fact I’ve never met y’all in person, and yet I draw much encouragement in my walk with Christ! :slight_smile:

I do agree with everything said thus far. I’ve drawn much encouragement and help from methods mentioned above to help prevent social media from becoming a source of jealousy or other temptation. I guess my jury is still out on whether or not I write off social media. I’d be curious to learn from y’all if, although social media perhaps falls short on consummating delight, are there ways that you do find social media encouraging in your walk with Christ?

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