Recently I’ve seen and heard in several places that we were never meant to have access to this much information, and we were not designed to see this many pretty people, and various other versions of these statements that basically mean that our human psyche is not capable of handling the internet in general and social media in particular.
But why do we think so?
I mean, I suppose it’s because the internet is still relatively new to us and our brains tend to assume anything new is going to kill us – because it’s often less costly to say something is dangerous and then later learn you’re wrong about that than it is to say something is not dangerous and then later learn you’re wrong about that. The consequences of mistaking a snake for a rope are usually worse than the consequences of assuming a rope is a snake.
But if you say our brain is not designed for this time in our world, doesn’t that automatically mean that there is a time for which our brain is designed?
And if so, when is it?
Two thousand years ago? Fifty years ago? Ten years ago? Precisely twenty minutes before social media began?
If your reason to mistrust social media is “because at the dawn of our existence we didn’t have this”, then how does it make sense for us to live inside of a climate-controlled building? How is it okay that we travel through the air at over 400 mph, or even over land at a fraction of that speed? When did it become unworrisome for us to have access to unlimited amounts of food?
Our world has been changing for as long as we can remember, but have we not somehow, so far, always managed to change with it enough to survive?
Is this fear of the internet and social media simply based on the idea that there is a limit to our brain’s ability to acclimate?
If you’re coming at this from a perspective that believes in evolution and does not believe in a creator – why now? If we’ve been able to survive our innovations up until now, why is this particular curve of our imagination the one we’re going to fall off?
If you believe in intelligent design, why would any God worth worshipping create us to only thrive in an environment that would last for such a short space of time? The 21st century might be new to us, but if He was capable of designing our brain to handle both the 4th and the 15th century, why did His knowledge give out just before we entered the Year of Our Lord 1997?
I know, I know, the current problem is the worst problem because it’s the only problem we’re aware of that we don’t have a solution for. Yet.
And yes, there is a chance that this is it. This is the thing that will destroy the human race. There is always a chance of that, and people have been insisting that the sky is falling for millennia, but so far we haven’t managed to be crushed under it.
I suspect someone is about to march towards me, arms filled with evidence of why social media specifically is BAD for us. Because there is some evidence to support that. And to that person I say, please focus. The cost-benefit ratio of using social media isn’t actually the point of this, especially because I don’t know of anything that we aren’t capable of using to hurt ourselves and others. Including God.
The point is that human beings are great adapters – and not only to good things, because we’ve seen ourselves adapt to abusive situations to such an extent that we fear leaving them. But we are great adapters, and that’s a hopeful thing because it means we’re pretty good at surviving.
So what if instead of fearfully insisting (on social media!) that we were not designed to have social media, we would start acknowledging that we absolutely were designed to adapt to new situations?
What if instead of assuming we are doomed to be the victims of all the ways the internet can harm us, we would start treating it like a new and extremely powerful tool – just as capable of building good things as it is of destroying us?
If you cut yourself on your new kitchen knife, do you become filled with horror that repeated cuts could cause you to die from blood loss or infection, blame the knife for being sharp, and subsequently refuse to ever touch a knife again? Or do you acknowledge that it’s the knife’s job to cut things and it’s your job to learn how to use this knife in a way that doesn’t harm you?
If my access to the internet and social media is making my life worse instead of better, are these things to blame? Or have I just not yet learned to use them well?