Being in the world of books, social media can be important, but I often hear how tired and downright repulsed people are by social media, some platforms more than others.

No doubt, it really can be a horrible experience being on social media, and it can go to extremes. There is indeed a lot of cranky, mean-spirited, discouraging, content and misinformation on social media. I won’t even list the possibilities here. Not gonna do it.

But there is also some incredible good that happens pretty much on every platform:

  • People have become better informed in an era where newspapers and print media have waned dramatically. And the information can be quick, unfiltered by gatekeepers.
  • Inspiring, encouraging, even entertaining content can brighten your day and refocus your attitude.
  • People are meeting each other online and then forming real, healthy relationships offline. They’re also keeping up with some of the happenings with family, friends, and colleagues.

Even with all the good that can happen, why is there the bad?

Here’s a question though about all that: Is it the technology, or is it us?

Here’s a theory that might be of interest to you who might be hanging around a website about publishing books in religion and spirituality.

In my work in psychology and religion, one insight comes from applying a developmental approach to religion in the United States. In short, how we grow throughout life happens in stages from birth to old age (it doesn’t end in childhood). In each of those stages, there is a spiritual, ethical, or religious dimension, and this dimension can influence our maturity, and vice versa. Simple enough.

Cutting right to it, there’s one stage in human development where we excel at using more elaborate language to make clear distinctions between right and wrong, this and that. Then we share that language among the individuals around us and form strong if not at times brittle identities and create in groups and out groups.

Hmm… sounds a lot like religion in the United States, right? Now, can you guess what stage of human development is highly concerned with ideology and identity? You guessed it: adolescence.

So in other words, using developmental psychology—granted, in a very simple argument here, we can conclude that an evocative descriptor of a lot of religious people in the United States is that they are—you guessed it again—spiritual adolescents.

Take that one step further and ask, is there a big difference between spiritual and emotional maturity? They indeed are related, as noted above. In other words, if so many of us in the U.S. are spiritual adolescents, then we are also quite likely emotional adolescents.

In answering the question this post asks, we might say that it’s we who are annoying, not the technology itself. In other words, the technology doesn’t just bring out our annoying behavior; instead, perhaps we are actually annoying people. We Americans, so many of us, are truly immature, no matter our chronological age or years reading the Bible. The truth is, we’re annoying!

And there you have it. One simple theory about why social media can be so challenging. Now, I realize that I went fast there, so just take it for what it’s worth.

Regardless, the challenge here remains the same: Can you be someone who uses social media in a mature way, to create, inspire, and encourage, to share meaty information, to make connections with other people if not real community?

Can you take a spiritually and emotionally mature approach?

If you do, I am sure you’ll make connections, learn new things, and find some incredible books to read.

While you’re at it, won’t you connect with Lake Drive Books on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter or even YouTube?