As a world, we spend more than 80 billion hours on social networking every year.
This week, Live Life launched with a challenge to complete a Life Audit, an examination of how we’re currently living our lives and defining a full life before we begin our weekly challenges.
Among its questions, the Life Audit asks: What are the distractions that prevent you from experiencing life to its fullest?
I was surprised to find that so many of us identified Facebook and social networking as the most distracting thing in our lives. In fact, more than 56% of the first 200 respondents to the Life Audit mentioned social networking as a distraction in their lives!
It’s not hard to imagine why. As a world, we spend more than 80 BILLION hours on social networking every year! We spend even more, 1 TRILLION hours per year, watching television!
So should we quit the Internet, disable our Facebook accounts, and turn off our computers?!
I don’t think that’s our only answer. Sure, we waste countless hours on mindlessly surfing the Internet, following Facebook gossip, or more dangerous Web activity. But the Internet also offers a lot of potential to better ourselves and our world. It makes this blog post possible, connects us to what’s going on in the world, and provides new possibilities to collaborate with others all over the globe.
Social networking is kind of like food. Unfortunately, many of us have created too much of a food-like dependence on social networking to get through our day. But like food, social networking can also help nourish us, give us energy and equip us; or it can be bad for our health, like when we gorge ourselves on junk food.
Next week, we’ll challenge you to fast from something that’s distracting you to create new space to pursue life to its fullest. Perhaps the best thing for you is to simply fast from the Internet or Facebook – and that may bring you closer to God for a season. But what if we instead created a new habit for how we use social networking for social good?
The Internet and social networking are just tools, which can be used for good or bad. The trick is to set GOALS for how you want to use these tools to better reach your full potential, serve God, and love others. If your biggest distraction is social networking, here are five ways to explore how you can use social networking for social good – to focus more on God, engage in your community, and connect with the world.
- Educate yourself – Never before has a generation had such endless access to so much information. Find things you want to learn about – new skills, ways to serve, problems facing your community, global issues you care about – and use the Internet to research, learn, and better yourself.
- Share relevant content – Use social networking to be an advocate, inform your friends, and encourage others who are taking time to create meaningful content.
- Connect locally – Use online activities to fuel offline actions. Find ways you can connect to causes and organizations locally.
- Mobilize others – Put a goal in front of others. Organize others to do something meaningful both online and offline to help change the world – such as local community service, advocating, raising awareness or funds for a global need.
- Contribute, don’t just consume – Hours of television has trained many of us to just consume content. On the Internet, it’s easy to just consume other people’s content, blog posts, videos, etc. but you can also find meaningful ways to practice creative skills and share what’s on your mind, what you care about, and what you are doing.
More than anything, social networking provides new ways for us to collaborate – both locally and globally. Wikipedia, the crowd-sourcing encyclopedia, was created by thousands of people collaborating on content. Over 12 years, these volunteers have collectively contributed 100 million hours to build Wikipedia to better the world. That’s a lot of hours! But it’s only a small fraction of the hours we collectively spend online.
In one year, the world could create 800 new Wikipedias with the amount of hours we spend online – but most of those hours we spend consuming and not contributing. Imagine if we began using that time and these amazing tools to contribute to a better world!
Our new Web sharing platform at WorldVisionYouth.org is a piece of that puzzle. We developed this place for you to virtually find and share resources and ideas for how to contribute in your communities and in the world.
Check out this video to learn more and then explore WorldVisionYouth.org…