A professional goal of mine is to define how study and practice of Mental Health Counseling may inform congregational health. In recent years Marriage and Family therapists have identified the negative role of technology in relationships. My Doctor of ministry thesis specifically explores how social media may effect marriage relationships. I have provided a brief excerpt from my thesis to describe how internet based technology may shape and influence relationships.
Perhaps most significant for understanding the role of technology in shaping relationships is how daily rituals may be reshaped. Imber-Black relates that participating in daily rituals tells couples over and over again who they are to each other in reliable ways. Such rituals help define the boundary between the couple and the outside world, between home and work. A couple’s relationship may be continually evoked without words through the repetition of familiar daily rituals (2001,53).
Following Imber-Black’s lead, my study explores the implications of social media use as a daily ritual which evokes or blocks a couple’s relationship without words. Use of social media sites may have a significant impact on the quality of a relationship independent of a couple’s awareness. What does social media use evoke about a relationship when in the moment of participation interest in the whereabouts and recorded thoughts of others takes precedence over a shared ritual with one’s spouse? What is evoked about the relationship when social media sites are experienced as an escape from the boredom of everyday life? In many cases the answer of what is evoked is a pursuit of something more than what the relationship offers in the moment that leads to an avoidance of meaningful interaction between partners.
For Christians who wish to practice their vocations of family relationships faithfully, a careful approach to use of internet technology is important. Does technology in anyway present a barrier between another family member? Is face to face interaction neglected because of the black hole of media technologies in the home?
Ephesians exhorts believers to make the best use of the time: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Instead of wasting time with the pursuits of this world we are called to…”address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ.”