Years ago entertained onstage, and during my first few times onstage, I realized pretty quickly that if I walked too close to the speakers with my microphone, I created a very loud and annoying feedback wail.
My actions ended up having a pretty detrimental effect on not just myself, but also everyone nearby. It didn’t take rocket science to quickly learn I had to distance myself away from the source of the audio. Technology can be used for great things, but it can also create some overpowering feedback noise.
I’m sure by now you can see where this is going. During the past several years, I have watched as we have moved too close to social media’s microphone and began shouting about how our opinion is the right one, while simultaneously ridiculing those who disagreed.
Simultaneously, the larger of the social media platforms observed what we liked and began optimizing their algorithm to feed us more of what we liked and hid more content with which we disagreed. Elected officials (and those who support those officials) are ridiculed by one side because of something as silly as a tweet.
On the other side, hate is directed at certain groups because they don’t act or look a certain way. Fights are even breaking out on campuses. The feedback loop began and the snark was amplified. And in complaining about many things I observed, I became a contributor to the snark.
I added noise to the feedback loop. I had become the thing I was trying to prevent.
At the same time that I was posting on social media about things with which I disagreed, I also was beginning my walk down what seemed a seemingly random path to friends and family.
I began learning Ancient Greek from a local ancient language teacher. Martin Luther had said, “The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained.” His writings made clear his concern that we would lose the gospel if we lost the original language.
So, I thought, I should learn Greek. I now am prepping for my third year of private Ancient Greek language study. During these recent years, I began to see the chasm forming, mostly because it was evident in my private and social life. Privately, I was studying. Learning.
Discussing ideas and debating the depths of why Paul or John or Mark wrote what they did. The sword was showing itself to me as my depth of the language was progressing.
On social media, however, I noticed that where I was once dedicated to illustrating the faults of the political party with which I was opposed, I was beginning to see things from the outside. Like a lucid dream, I was becoming fully aware that I was not changing minds.
I was only, simply, digging in deeper. And so were many friends on “the other side.” Each side sharing news articles or opinion pieces that only talked about how much they were right and the other side was not just wrong, but full of hate and incapable of thinking intelligently.
I’m now getting busy doing something about it. Everyone’s solution is different. Mine is simple. I’m going to cannibalize my current social life. The one that is adding noise to the feedback.
My goal is straightforward. In the same way that Athens was a central hub for learning and philosophy, giving rise to the likes of Plato and Aristotle, I will be sharing what I am learning. Sometimes about the Greek I am learning. But also about many of the books I am reading and conversations I in which I am engaged.
And I ask that you join me in interrupting this social media feedback loop and reinvigorate our craving for arts, learning, and even, along the way, debate the merits of various ideas and concepts we may run across.
Hi. I'm Scott Sullivan, a slave of Christ and husband to my awesome wife Angie. I'm an artist and writer,
living in the beautiful countryside of Lancaster, Pa.