DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Did We God Full Circle?

Written by: on March 22, 2019

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[1];”

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.[2]”?

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[3].” 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,

 

 

 

Bibliography

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.

 

[1]Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography.London: Sage Publications LTD, 2013. Pg 53.

[2]Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.New York: Penguin Random House LLC, 2019. Pg 9.

[3]Ibid, p 152.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

9 responses to “Did We God Full Circle?”

  1. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Good post Shawn. I hope you have more than an Iphone 3 now. What are you using now?

    Great quote from Bill Maher btw.

    Do you consider yourself a late adopter on most tech changes?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      I wish Kyle…I am far too competitive for that. Actually, the first iPhone showed me what an asset the technology would be to my life; and at times, an addiction. I have the latest, greatest iphone X, LMNOP or whatever it is called. In addition I have the Ipad and the Mac computers. My sons have XBox, Wii, Playstations 2, 3, & 4, and in addition to my big screen, I am setting up a projector in my garage to finish off my Star Wars movie theater. Of course, the theater has been under construction for 3 years; I only seem to use my Mac when I’m doing school stuff, and I could not tell you more than two titles of the games the boys own for their systems…I have no time for those things. However, my phone is with me ALWAYS! It has become my lifeline to staying organized.

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I loved this statement, “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.” I agree!

    Do you take a Sabbath rest every week (not on Sunday)? Is there a way to cut back on technology on that day? But I admit I know it is hard, especially since we have to do Doctoral work on the internet…

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Other than work related things, my connection to technology is is more of convenience than necessity. I like it; it can be useful and entertaining, but I also have no problem setting it down and forgetting it is there. In fact…I prefer it that way when I can get away with it.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Sorry, failed to answer the Sabbath question: no, I do not take the necessary day off that I believe we should do for ourselves to focus on more important things…at least not regularly. However, there are times when I just have to “deflate” from the stresses in my life (there tend to be many these days); and at those times, I find time to myself to close out the rest of the world.

  3. Greg says:

    Thanks for bringing us on the journey of your tech life (and resistance to it:-) It is interesting how easy we are whooed by tech and what the world values. We have all fallen into those traps and (as you like to say) are seduced to the dark side :-). I see that value of a book like this but don’t always know how to balance the need to use it and the time away from it. I know I am need to consistently allow the Word to help define what is important.

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    I truly believe the Bible is my favorite place to disappear to; I am fascinated and enthralled by all that it teaches me. Furthermore, it never stresses me out like people do. LOL

  5. Shawn,

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

    I’m drawn into the conversation about restricting the power of the internet on our lives, and rather putting barriers around it. I wonder how we can practically do that? In my case, I try to take mini-sabbaticals where internet is off. We need to find a way to do this successfully.

  6. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Shawn,

    Sounds like you have had a similar relationship to cell phones that I have had. It’s a love/hate relationship. I fought for ages not to get a cell phone until my employer at the time finally foisted one on me and said I needed it. As far as a smart phone, I have only had one of those for a little over a year and am still not sure I am pleased about it.

    I believe that you are correct. Technology and these devices are not ‘of the devil’, they represent developments that came about because of the creativity that God instilled in all humans. They have however, certainly been exploited by the enemy and thus should be used with caution and some restraint. Thanks for your post.

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