For your reading discomfort: https://babbletop.com/15-most-dangerous-internet-challenges/
As I worked through our reading this week, I could not help but ask the question; “Did we go full circle?” I mean how did we get from Sarah Pink writing,
“Pre-field work surveys of literature, digital and other visual texts and examples of how other ethnographers have successfully worked with visual and digital images and technologies in specific research contexts can indicate the potential for using visual methods in particular social, cultural, technological and practical situations;”
to a quote in this week’s reading by Bill Maher, which read,
“The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your ‘likes’ is the new smoking.”?
I have heard it said…and maybe even said it more than once myself; “I believe the internet is of the devil.” However, I do not really believe that; I just believe he (devil) has learned how to capitalize on its resources better than anyone else.
I remember my first interaction with the internet; it was at Harding University in the fairly new “Computer Lab;” (come on…there were not laptops in every dorm room back then). A friend new I liked playing chess and introduced me to a program that would let me play chess with people across the globe; how cool was that? I played against people from China, Germany, Israel, and even one of the tropical islands somewhere; the internet was cool!
I remember my first cell-phone; not because of its function, but because of how hard I fought against buying it. We lived in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico, surrounded by nature and wildlife; while working as pulpit minister for a congregation of about 30 in the winters and 200 in the summers. My wife wanted a cell phone desperately, since I had dragged her away from her family and friends in Oklahoma. I consented…quickly in fact. However, I had no use for one myself. I had a phone at church and at home, and everywhere else was my “safe place” that people could not reach me. Why on earth would I want a to be that accessible? Then it happened; I decided to move back to the little city, change my classification from “minister” to “Youth Minister,” and realized very quickly that I was out of touch with my kids. Nearly every teen in my 40-teen youth group had a cell phone, and they used them daily. I remember the embarrassment I held as I went home and admitted, “Honey, I need a cell phone.” Interesting enough, she was excited to go shopping with me for one.
I remember when my cell phone was no longer just a cell phone. My second phone was a Blackberry; that’s right, not some junky little flip phone; I bought the ORGANIZER! I hated it! Never did fully figure that thing out. To my delight, and honestly by accident; that Blackberry bounced out of my golf cart while golfing with my buddy Brandon and was run over by another golf cart. Shucks! It was broken. When we got back to his apartment, Brandon gave me his old iPhone 3, because he had just “UPGRADED” to the iPhone 4. Little did I realize that this would be the pattern for my future iPhone progression. What followed was what I will call “App Frenzy.” The app store literally has an app for everything! I think half of them on are still on my phone. In addition, the youth groups to follow would introduce me to Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, Pinterest, YouTube, and Snapchat (though I still refuse to get used to that one). Then came online banking, travel sites, online shopping, bill pay, and to my personal delight…THE BIBLE! Not just did I have 66 books of Godly bliss at my fingertips, but also access to biblical commentaries, dictionaries, maps, and even sermons.
So how could all of this be a bad thing? I found that even when my youth group kids (and my own children as they got older) were not with me, I still had a way to keep connected to them. Furthermore, today, my church family is connected by our own website, Facebook page, and phone app w/ directory. I can pay my bills with the punch of a button, facetime/Marco Polo video chat with my family across the country, and even confirm my airline tickets without touching a piece of paper; doesn’t that seem like a list of good things? OH, I nearly forgot…and I can work through my doctorate with a fantastic group of fellow students from all over the globe while staring at the deer in my front yard (literally doing that right now as I type).
The problem with all of these things is that they are not the problem; progress is not always bad and evil; however, give it a little time and someone will find a way to make it that way. Parents have left their children to be raised by the internet. As we discussed with the biblical sexuality talk a couple weeks ago; this has resulted in a terrible method of mis-education and corrupted teaching. Satan is taking his chance at corrupting our youth. In our reading, Newport discusses the “LIKE” button, and the fact that this “feature evolved to become the foundation on which Facebook rebuilt itself from a fun amusement that people occasionally checked, to a digital slot machine that began to dominate its users’ time and attention.” I fear the problem is greater than Newport expressed though; I believe the “Like” button actually serves more as an “I am LIKED” button. Our society, full of insecurity and doubt, lacking the understanding of what a relationship with God could actually bring them has resulted in trying to find acceptance from a little blue button. YouTube has become an avenue of telling people they are interesting and of worth; even if it requires me to do something stupid and life-threatening in the process. It is this desperate longing for approval.
The answer: we do not need to remove the internet; we need to continue diligently teaching the world that there is a God that loves them and desires to show them the way to His house of rest, love and peace.
1 Timothy 2:3-6 (NKJV)
3 For this isgood and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there isone God and one Mediator between God and men, theMan Christ Jesus,
6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
Gaille, Brandon. bradongaille.com.May 26, 2017. https://brandongaille.com/time-spent-online-statistics-by-region-and-type-activity/ (accessed March 22, 2019).
Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2019.
Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography.London: Sage Publications LTD, 2013.
Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography.London: Sage Publications LTD, 2013. Pg 53.
Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2019. Pg 9.
Ibid, p 152.