The Founder of Social Media Is Not Who You Think

Most people think that Mark Zuckerberg invented social media, but they’re wrong. Someone else much farther back in history was the first to post a status update, one just as narcissistic as any you will read in today’s newsfeeds.

Before I tell who it is, I want to disclose something. This will not be a no-holds-barred diatribe against FaceBook. That would be hypocritical of me. I may not post or check FaceBook as often as some, still you can “find me” there.

My concern is the array of cognitive effects that social media posts generate, effects that are more sophisticated than the supplied list of possible reactions, and far more me-centered than God-centered.

The first social media post in history is a classic example of a poster eclipsing God-centeredness with me-centeredness. And he did it with creativity and flair, like a social media all-star, fully expecting his post to go viral.

That’s what so ironic about all of this. God gave human beings the gift of creativity. It’s central to our being made in his image. Add in the ability to communicate, and there is amazing potential to glorify God; amazing potential, in other words, for God-centeredness.

It is potential squandered by the original social media guru, a fellow named Lamech, a descendant from Adam through Cain. Lamech murdered a young man and then posted this warning on his page:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-fold.”

The cognitive effect Lamech intended was fear. He wanted everyone who read his newsfeed to fear what would happened if they attempted to exact justice for the young man. Blood feud and revenge were the order of the day for things like this, and Lamech was smart enough to foresee the danger.

So Lamech used his God-given creativity to craft his warning. Lamech was saying, “God only threatened a multiplier of 7 against anyone taking revenge on Cain. I’m threatening 70. So go ahead, make my day!”

Presumably Lamech succeeded in his me-centered approach to his life on social media. At least there’s no record of anyone taking him on; that is, not until he eventually stood before God, who posted a viral message of his own in Genesis 9: “I will require a reckoning for the life of every man.”

Lamech and his tribe notwithstanding, abuses of creativity and me-centered cognitive effects are not baked into social media. They are inherent dangers, perhaps, but not inevitable outcomes. A countervailing strategy to offset the danger is to cultivate God-centeredness in every aspect of life, while limiting posts on social media to those that feature the God-centered cognitive effects of Galatians 5:22-23 and Philippians 4:8.






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Randal Gilmore