Last Monday, John Lyons purchased a one-way ticket from Miami to get his daughter out of the path of Hurricane Irma. The ticket cost $159.20. By today, the price had climbed to $1,028. His social media post expressing his outrage soon went viral.
The airline responded: “We have not changed our fare structures, and, in fact have added capacity to help get customers out of the affected areas.” But Lyons says he has traveled to Florida many times and has never seen a price this high. Other major airlines are reportedly offering fares above $1,000 for one-way tickets out of Florida as well; customers have expressed their outrage on social media.
I have no expertise on the costs of one-way airfares out of Miami. My point is that social media made one person’s experience a national story. This is now so common that we take it for granted.
Yesterday, Pope Francis’s plane flying from Italy to Colombia shifted course to avoid Hurricane Irma. Many of those praying for his safe travels saw the news first on Twitter.
Twitter helped families locate loved ones after the Manchester bombing attack in May. Hurricane Harvey victims used Facebook and Twitter to seek help. Social media posts are tracking Hurricane Irma and warning Florida residents in its path.
Facebook has more than two billion monthly active followers, an increase of 340 million people since 2016. It’s as though the entire population of the United States joined Facebook last year. Twitter has 328 million monthly active users, equivalent to the US population. Five hundred million tweets are sent every day.
Social media is obviously ubiquitous today. That’s because it empowers us to be the center of our own publishing empire. We can express outrage over air fares, keep up with the pope, and track hurricanes. We can express our opinions to everyone who cares to read them.
But saying it doesn’t make it true.
Fake weather maps are warning about Hurricane Irma hitting the Texas coast. A fake image of Barack Obama serving meals in Houston after the hurricane went viral. A fake photo of a shark swimming on a flooded highway received national attention.
I know this is a revolutionary statement in today’s self-centered culture, but humans are not omniscient. We are the created, not the Creator. Human knowledge without divine wisdom isn’t true wisdom at all.
Jesus promised, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). But the preceding verse sets the condition for the promise: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (v. 31). “Abide” translates the Greek meno, meaning to “remain, stay, persist, live within.” Only when we live in and by God’s word can we have the wisdom our broken world needs.
The first sentence of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life is, “It’s not about you.” Do you agree?