What we see on computer screens is no substitute for the real thing, according to a BYU Education Week presentation by Stephen K. Hunsaker.
Hunsaker, an institute instructor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, showed two nearly identical images to demonstrate the power of imitation during his presentation on social media and relationships on Aug. 24, 2017.
He compared humans’ ability to create lifelike computer renderings to the adversary’s power to deceive people into thinking things are real when they are merely imitations.
“He’ll make it as real as possible so we almost start to believe ourself that it is real, even though in some degree we know it’s not,” Hunsaker said.
He quoted a 2009 CES devotional given by Elder David A. Bednar at BYU–Idaho, where Bednar spoke about the dangers of media in desensitizing the human spirit and creating a false perception of the world.
“We live in a time where there are many that are there to deceive even the very elect, according to prophecies of the last days,” Hunsaker said. “The only way that the very elect will not fall, according to the scriptures, is they will stand in holy places and not be moved.”
Hunsaker said Elder Bednar warned about the adversary’s ability to deceive people and that it is important to stay connected to real things.
“If we can get something on a screen to seem as if it was real so it can satisfy us, then it takes a toll on us,” Hunsaker said.
According to Hunsaker, human contact is important and cannot be substituted by social media.
“Social media will never satisfy when it comes to a relationship,” he said. “You can have a two-hour-long texting session with a girl or a boy, and it will not be as satisfying as sitting next to them and holding their hand and having the same conversation eye-to-eye and face-to-face, where they can grab your arm when you’re hurting.”
Hunsaker said the adversary will try to get people to pull away from physical touch and personal communication in order to be satisfied by a fake picture.
He said bodies need to have touch, closeness, hugs and eye contact. People whose relationships are centered on social media need to step back and find out if it is real, according to Hunsaker.
“You need to stop texting when it comes to a conversation and pick up the phone and talk, or you need to go over to each other’s houses and talk,” Hunsaker said. “You need to spend some time together.”
That human connection is important because the adversary will try to get people to withdraw completely from human interaction if he cannot get them to be immoral, Hunsaker said.
“Our decisions must not be based upon something that’s artificial, like the world’s offerings,” Hunsaker said.