It’s not often you hear from anyone about the spiritual benefits of the Internet. I read and hear (and think, to be honest) a mostly the opposite.
So I appreciate the intellectual courage it takes to put out anything that ties prayer and social media together. But, hey, now that this guy’s got me thinking about it, I can appreciate what he’s saying. (“Bless Us O Instagram.” Theodore Gioia, American Scholar, July 15th)
My best mind’s approach to the internet is that it’s for encouragement, appreciation, and for facilitating relationships. That’s how I made my peace with keeping Facebook on my phone — I use it for encouragement and appreciation of people in my personal relato-sphere.
Meditating on it a bit, I can see that Instagram and prayer are both at their best in service of relationships, of community, of connection. And the best connections are based in gratitude. Gratitude is gratitude, but internet gratitude has the magnified potential of near global reach.
Of course, both internet and prayer can also serve to deepen one’s own self-absorption. Proper intention is necessary (but not sufficient, of course.)
Next time my youngest whips out her phone to snap and share what she’s about to eat, I have another way to view it other than to be generationally annoyed. She’s appreciating what she has received. She thinks it’s share-worthy.