500 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, protesting the corruption of papal indulgences, and thus birthing the Protestant reformation. Today, I’m posting my book, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks, to the door of our social media church to protest what social media is doing to our minds and hearts, and calling for a return to the values of compassion, relationship and community. Social media, and technology, have become a new religion, with evangelists and disciples. We beg for our friends’ indulgences with our posts, but our relationships have become monetized for the profit of the few. We may hope for transcendence through our online communion, but in fact we are taken farther from our hearts. Social media surfaces the question of belonging, but does not solve it. Depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicidality are increased by our time on social media. Social media are a platform for cyberbullying and trolling, even by our president, who sets a bad example but also epitomizes the worst possibilities of online interactions, rampaging across our boundaries of mind and spirit, agonizing and polarizing the nation, causing us to lose sight of our common humanity.
Social media are our auxiliary amygdalae, priming us for fight-or-flight responses to the cataclysmic barrage of traumatic events, fake news, and threats to our identities. The social network is a race to the bottom of our brainstems. We think we’ll heal ourselves online, but all our communal wounds (of racism, sexism and homophobia, for example) are empathic failures, failures of love and compassion. Healing comes through real world presence and relationship. By making relationship superficial, we deepen our divide. Society has become more polarized and mistrustful. Social media is ultimately a boon not to transcendence of the self-centered ego, but boosts self-centeredness itself. Our attentions and priorities are narrowed. Our curiosity, openness, ability to consider differing opinions, and ability to reason calmly suffer. The most triggering and inflammatory posts are most likely to get our attention and go viral. Facebuddha is my spiritual memoir, cultural analysis and odyssey across this alluring technological sea, and home to the heart, where I find a measure of transcendence through the cultivation of relationship and love, mindfulness and compassion.
Social media and technology are not just media. They are a new religion. Facebook is bigger than the Catholic Church. Our Tweets and Posts are our Call to Prayers. We thumb our Phones like Rosaries. Food Porn is our Communion and our Offering to the Cloud. The Status Update is our Sermon on the Mount. The Selfie is our personal Anointment and Beatification. Facebook Messenger is our Messiah. The Apple Store is our modern Cathedral, our Silicon Sanctuary. New Emoji are released to the fanfare of a new Pope. Where is this religion taking us?
Read Facebuddha, and find out. Cultivate a path to transcendence, peace and healing, and beyond suffering.
More details, purchase links and an animated book trailer at facebuddha.co.