A new study (which you can read about here) has found that the use of social media is actually making most people less social, spending less time communicating with others face-to-face.
What impact does/will this have on the liturgical assembly? Their identity, after all, is primarily a Body gathered, face-to-face. I suppose the mystical Body of Christ is not limited by an absence of physical proximity between its members, even in the corporate act of prayer. Yet we believe in an incarnate God, held and touched and seen face-to-face by Joseph, Mary, and Simeon. Our prayer tradition, founded on that enfleshed God, may suffer when its members are physically severed from one another.
Perhaps a more troubling facet of this study is its finding of a trend for people to edit their social media lives to seem better, if not close-to-perfect. Again, a vital component of our corporate faith is a corporate and public acknowledgement of our failings or shortcomings: our sins. What impact will this have on the already-embattled sacrament of reconciliation, or even the Penitential Act at Mass?
In my view, these types of macro trends in the surrounding culture need to be in our awareness as much as internal matters. We can be deluded into believing that the ways our assemblies are formed by the surrounding culture for the 6.75 days of the week they aren’t in the sanctuary have no effect on Sunday, or on the Body at prayer in the long term.