What social media does to your soul | Digital Liturgies Book Review

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We are more online than ever before.

A recent survey found that 85% of US adults say they are online every day. And when it comes to youth, those 13–17, a full 95% say they use social media “almost constantly.”

People are rightly wondering what this level of exposure is doing to us.

Last month, I read Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age by Samuel D. James. And in this video I decided to take a deep dive into the book with you, and share some of my own thoughts on what we might do about the issues he presents.

I’ve enjoyed reading Samuel’s Substack for the past couple of years and have even shared some of his articles in the Roundup. So, I was eager to read this one.

In the book, Samuel explores how the connected internet shapes not just our minds but, more importantly, our hearts. The book goes deeper into the spiritually formative power of the internet than anything I’ve read before.

Rather than thinking of the web and social media as merely neutral tools that merely do whatever users ask of them, it is better to think of them as kinds of spaces that are continually shaping us to think, feel, communicate, and live in certain ways. In other words, the social internet is a liturgical environment.

My only critique is that the book makes such a robust case against the harmful effects of the social internet that I kept expecting it to crescendo into more potent cautions. But he doesn’t offer any practical solutions aside from “just be aware of the dangers.” And if that’s all he set out to do, fine. He certainly makes that case well. But be forewarned, if you’re looking for strategies for fighting back, that isn’t the intent of this book.

Nevertheless, Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age is a worthwhile read that will help you better discern your own relationship with the social internet. I commend it to you!

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