By Emilie Ng
HOW did you feel the afternoon Facebook and Instagram crashed?
Personally – and this may shock those who know my technology habits well – I was apathetic about the whole situation.
Why, and how, you ask, could a person like me, who admittedly looks more at their iPhone screen than at the Bible, be indifferent about a situation that would normally call for a defibrillator?
Because I didn’t know it had happened.
Let’s travel back in time to January 27, when, unbeknownst to me, the Internet broke (again) for a brief hour. I’m sitting at the kitchen table cutting out words and letters from discarded music magazines to make a birthday card.
I’m enjoying my rare crafty moment so much, I don’t even bother drowning out the peaceful silence with music.
I felt satisfied, joyful, proud.
There I was, making a gift with my bare hands, feeling resourceful and imaginative, channelling my inner Hallmark, while one billion people were dying from social media starvation. Ignorance is bliss, they say.
Later that evening I made my usual trip through News Feed Lane.
I thumbed over a friend’s status, which read: “Facebook went down so I ran next door to show my neighbour my dinner … They liked it …”
After a quick Google search for “Facebook went down” I realised I had missed a slice of history because I was “too busy” enjoying my card-making session.
I can tell you now that if I had been trapped in the hour of darkness, I would have spent an eternity (in reality a good five minutes) in agony, wondering if the world had ended alongside Facebook’s demise. But God spared me the anxiety.
When you make an effort to do something thoughtful for someone else, you can’t help but feel joyful.
The Catechism tells us the fruits of charity are joy, peace and mercy.
In my experience, the fruits of extended Facebook use can often be comparison, anxiety and jealousy.
I’ve fumbled through Facebook only to feel like my life is less exciting than my “friends’”, been too vain about my looks, or upset because my fashion sense isn’t as trendy as everyone else’s.
My Facebook session leaves me empty, never satisfied with my reality.
It’s amazing what happens when you leave that emptiness for one hour to fill it with small acts of charity for others.
Facebook isn’t evil, and I’m certainly not advocating a complete ban.
But it does have the capacity to rob you of joy, which can only truly come from charity, of loving God with all your heart, and your neighbour for love of Him.
When you feel your joy is being stolen by repetitive social media injuries, you have the power to logout and look outside yourself and, like God in Genesis, create something new and dignified for others.
Emilie Ng is a journalist at The Catholic Leader.