Social media is defined as the social interaction in which people create, share or exchange information, ideas, and images/videos in virtual communities and networks. People have always interacted and engaged in social activities, and for many of us this has meant face to face interaction or «πρόσωπο με πρόσωπο». Τoday however, many people mainly interact through social media in a virtual world, and whilst this enables them to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world from the comfort of their home, they are still often left feeling lonely or isolated.
There are thousands of social media sites around the world with the most popular network being Facebook, with 1.2 billion users worldwide. In Australia, which has a population of 22.2 million, 81% use the internet, 57% use Facebook and 110% use mobile phones, which is more than one phone per person. This equates to 73% of the population using social media to communicate, with the average time users spend on social media each day being 2 hours 5 minutes.
With so much time spent using social media it’s important to be safe: it is reliant on users to ensure their information security is complete. This entails using a strong password with at least 8 characters. Don’t leave your full name, birthdate or address in your profile. In particular, your date of birth makes you an easy target for identity thieves. Become familiar with privacy controls and avoid clicking suspicious links, even from a trusted source. Do not reveal sensitive information about yourself such as schedules and event locations, and avoid mentioning that you will be away from home.
For young people in particular, protect your reputation on social networks by thinking twice before posting remarks and pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or prospective employers to see. Remember, what you post on line stays on line. Recent research has found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found on-line.
There are many benefits of social media, such as staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing and exchanging ideas, providing opportunities for community engagement through raising money for charities and volunteer work to name just a few. However, there are also many negatives to beware of, such as cyber bullying, on-line grooming of young children, fraud, extortion and identity theft. Did you know that social media today has replaced money as the number one contributor to marriage problems?
Finally, social media and how it relates to our Orthodox Faith is very important to us as Orthodox Christians. Technology and the internet are valuable tools which allow us to spread the word of God and our Faith, particularly to isolated parts of the globe, as well as learning more about our Faith and what is happening around us. Social media and technology are used by many Orthodox parishes and monasteries including Mt Athos to inform, contact and educate us in our Orthodox Faith. It’s not technology or social media which are the enemy, but often our imaginations and thoughts lead to bad choices. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Serbia, stated: “our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, meek and kind then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and we can have neither peace nor tranquillity”.