Volume > Issue > Social Media & the Decline of Human Reason

Social Media & the Decline of Human Reason


By Christopher M. Reilly | March 2020
Christopher M. Reilly lives in the Washington, D.C., region and writes and speaks about Christian bioethics and responses to technology.

I was never very skilled at basketball as a child. Sure, my participation had some merit, if only in the amusement of others when a bouncing ball found its way under my stumbling feet. Choosing the safer route, I usually planted my feet in one spot on the court while my head spun around in a whirlwind of players running, pivoting, passing, and shooting. I just couldn’t get into the flow of things. Running on the track team, however — I was good at that. Give me a starting point and a finish line, tell me to run fast and burn my lungs out doing it, and I was as happy as a dog with a spoonful of peanut butter.

Although that was a long time ago, my attitude toward youth sports foreshadowed the current blend of timidity and bravado that characterizes 21st-century discourse, a dichotomy that is reflected in our use of Internet-based social media.

Like the track sprinter, most people are thrilled with a surge of concentration on a chosen goal. In a moment like that, distractions or multiple objectives throw us off course. We will, however, gleefully grunt and groan our way toward a single achievement that we selected beforehand as personally valuable to us.

On the other hand, when we experience uncertainty and vulnerability, both of which are invariable conditions of life, we respond in our very human way by grasping for as much control as we can get over nature, society, ourselves, and the future. Just as I planted myself firmly in the midst of childhood basketball games, people in our society are quick to disqualify themselves from jumping into the flow of life. Too many of us, overwhelmed by the moral chaos of our times, or unwittingly enslaved to technology, sit on the lonely sidelines with our heads down — or, tragically, we quit the team altogether. Apathy, atheism, drug use, suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are the results. Adding greatly to the confusion of our age is our conflicted experience with revolutionary social-media platforms like Facebook.

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