Abraham Lincoln once said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”
All jokes aside, the Internet has become such a part of our lives that we now depend on getting our social interaction through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many others. First off, I’d like to admit that I’m a primary offender of abusing social media, so many of my observations are from personal experience.
Here are five reasons why Mormons are obsessed with social media.
Often Mormons misinterpret the Savior’s invitation of “be ye therefore perfect even as I Am,” as “my life has to appear ‘perfect’ to everyone else.” We see examples of perfectionism throughout social media: Mommy blogs, Facebook statuses and perfect Instagram photos.
Miranda Athanasiou from Elite Daily wrote, “We find that [people’s] 27 flawless ‘night out’ pictures are more important [to them] than the night itself.”
2. To Feel Part of a Community
It’s no surprise that Mormons love to feel like they are “in the loop” and part of a greater community.
Back in the day, ward members might have sat around their kitchen tables asking “I wonder what happened to Brother So-and-So’s family?” With this new small world of social media, individuals can now stay up-to-date on everyone’s lives. However they do it with seemingly little effort or even none at all creating invisible but powerful social barriers.
The need to stay in the know can even create anxiety. Dr. Larry Rosen of Psychology Today found that “people use technology… to avoid anxiety about not knowing what is going on at every moment on every electronic communication platform including social media.”
This one is a universal reason people turn to social media.
Situation: you’re sitting on a bus with nothing to do but stare at people… who wants to strike an awkward conversation? Might as well see if you received more likes on your Facebook picture!
4. Desire for Praise/Gratification
Ever since we were in Primary we have searched for approval from our teachers, parents and peers. Social media has put our search for praise on a whole new level.
Each additional like on a photo boosts an individual’s self-esteem and push him or her into the pride cycle.
Sarah Harris of Daily Mail wrote, “Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives.”
5. Bragging Rights
Mormon parents and their children are known across the world for their clean, talented and ambitious lifestyles. This can often create a competitive atmosphere within the online Mormon community: my kids, significant other, or even my dog is better than yours!
As for me, I’ve seen some of the negative effects of social media in my own life and have resolved to create “no screen” times in my daily life.
Social media is a great tool for keeping in touch with others and a fun way to interact with friends, but we need to be aware of becoming too involved with the online world.