Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

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I, Phone: Love and Addiction in the Age of Distraction


 

Our smartphones are doing something to us.


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Top Posts of 2012: Two Years Sober from Facebook

 

This week, we will repost the five most-viewed blogs of the year. And, yes, we’re aware that this blog only began in August, but bear with us here. We hope that these re-posts encourage some reflection on the year that was. Many of our posts alluded to or directly commented on some of the major stories of 2012, and by remembering where we’re come, we can, with healthy amounts of prayer, approach the future with more wisdom and understanding.

The top-five countdown begins with Kate Reynolds’ entry from September 28 on faithful, God-honoring usage of Facebook and other media.


Two Years Sober: Why I Left Facebook and Haven’t Gone Back

There was once a time that Facebook was simple, and so (to be honest) was my life. I went to classes and came home, seeing all the people I really knew in the dorms, catching up with them at dinner, and enjoying late night chats in the lounges. The few people I didn't see regularly, I began to keep up with on "the Face," which gave me a little bit of insight to their lives when I gave them a phone call and got caught up that way.

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No-Media November

 

In the end, I might be the world’s worst new media scholar. Aside from the possibility that I might not regain the ability to focus and actually finish my thesis, I have a tendency to pull out of mediated contexts quite frequently, abruptly and completely. Indeed, I initially composed this post with a pen in a notebook that I specifically keep for the purpose of writing blog posts. On real paper. In cursive. In my field, I am an intellectual weirdo.
 
But I’m okay with that. Especially when I see things like this:

 

“What we’re not doing when we’re online also has neurological consequences. Just as neurons that fire together wire together, neurons that don’t fire together don’t wire together. As the time we spend scanning Web pages crowds out the time we spend reading books, as the time we spend exchanging bite-sized text messages crowds out the time we spend hopping across links crowds out the time we devote to quiet reflection and contemplation, the circuits that support those old intellectual functions and pursuits weaken and begin to break apart. The brain recycles the disused neurons and synapses for other, more pressing work. We gain new skills and perspectives but lose old ones.” (Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, p. 120)

 

My heart toward new and social (and pretty much all) media boils down to 1 Corinthians 6:12 – 

“All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.” 

I don’t think anyone really wants to be enslaved, but I’m finding that (more and more) I am enslaved to the media I consume. I may make the case for its “helpfulness,” but the reality is that it can often hinder more than it helps.

So, when I sat down with my husband nearly two weeks ago and shared my convictions about personal media use, I was blessed to discover he felt the same conviction. The result is that we’ve made this month “No-Media November” in our home. We talked through each medium, how our hearts relate to and engage with what we see, hear and experience, and made decisions to limit our personal and joint media use for the month.

Now, some forms of media don’t cause heart issues for me. For instance, I can read books and listen to music to my heart’s content – but I’ve allowed my use of television and the Internet (including streaming video, reading and writing blog posts, and checking email before I roll out of bed in the morning) to develop into unhealthy and sinful habits for which I’m ready to make excuses in order to continue using.

And these excuses create bonds for me – when I insist that I must continue with my use for whatever reason (however noble), I find myself enslaved to it. I don’t feel free!

 

“Soul-freedom requires obedience and servanthood and, ultimately, surrender, and every other requirement that drives me crazy, until I remember that these ‘religious’ responses are not life squelching, but are routes to liberation.” (Kelly Minter, Water into Wine, p. 116)

 

I’m choosing to abstain, not because the things themselves are bad, but because I have been rescued from bondage by Christ and I want to taste that freedom!

And, day by day, though I have failed at some points (being a news “junkie” makes breaking my news fast for hurricanes and election coverage very tempting), I have begun to recognize a clearing of my mind as it makes way for older connections to work once more. I’m more willing to spend an evening reading a book in our study, working on Christmas presents or doing things I have long put off – like painting our stairs, doing laundry and having dear friends over for dinner.

It’s a beautiful, freeing thing to disconnect and, even though my colleagues and many others might think I’m strange for doing so, I hope the lessons that capture my heart this November will stay with me as I navigate our mediated world in the years to come. 

 

(Photo credit: mwvalenti/Flickr)

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Throwback Thursdays: The Big Picture of God's Big Story

 

We live in an immediate world. Modes of transportation are faster, more convenient and more diverse than ever before. This thing called the Internet delivers everything we could ever want – music, movies, news, games, the Bible, friendship, sex – in a matter of seconds, whenever we want. Twitter reduces being “in the moment” to 140 characters. If you don’t have a smart phone and didn’t get the Facebook update in real time, you’re hopelessly disconnected.

History, meaning and personal fulfillment have been reduced to what we can immediately put in front of our eyes. Don’t ask us to think deeply, to be patient, or to delay our gratification. If it isn’t happening now, it doesn’t matter.

Or so we’re told. In a world full of fleeting immediacy, unrestrained information intake and sound-bite theology, it can be easy to lose our perspective on God’s plan for the world and for our lives.

For the teaching course in this edition of “Throwback Thursdays,” we go to a sweeping, packed-full-of-goodness message of John Meyer’s from August 2006. It’s called “Our Father Has Saved Us,” and it details the grand story of our Father, the truthfulness of that story, and how that story involves you and me. Here’s the audio (sorry, no video).

For the musical number, “Lost the Plot” by the Newsboys – off their 1996 album Take Me to Your Leader – is a stinging satire that hits at the attention deficit disorder of our souls in these digital times. I think the dots from John’s sermon are easily connected to this tune, as well. We are so easily distracted, so easily tripped up by the most insignificant idols in our lives, that we lose our place in God's redemption story.


As always, I’d love to hear your recommendations for teaching/music pairings for a future “Throwback Thursdays.” Leave a comment, message us on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at trevorsides@summitview.com.

Keep your stick on the ice – err, keep your bookmark in the page.

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Two Years Sober: Why I Left Facebook and Haven’t Gone Back

 

There was once a time that Facebook was simple, and so (to be honest) was my life. I went to classes and came home, seeing all the people I really knew in the dorms, catching up with them at dinner, and enjoying late night chats in the lounges. The few people I didn't see regularly, I began to keep up with on "the Face," which gave me a little bit of insight to their lives when I gave them a phone call and got caught up that way.

Life became a little more complex, however, as did my Facebook habit until I “quit.” What got absurdly out of control was my need to know every tidbit about every person that I both did and did not hang out with on a daily basis. It wouldn't be so bad if I actually took the time to seek out each individual to see how he or she was doing, but the fact that it was so readily supplied and I didn’t need to initiate any type of communication (or relationship), is ridiculous. No wonder I felt cut off from people.

I’ve gotten quite a bit of flack over the past two years for not being on Facebook, especially as someone who studied social media academically. Perhaps because of my studies, I see acutely the possible benefits and effects of using any form of media. For me, the decision to remove myself was something I prayed about for several months. Would it be worth it? Would it affect my ability to connect with others for ministry purposes?

In the end, though, my heart kept coming back to this:

 

Do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. (1 Samuel 12:21)

 

Those that cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. (Jonah 2:8)

 

When we put it plainly like this – as a direct choice between God and our stuff – most of us hope we would choose God. But we need to realize that how we spend our time, what our money goes toward, and where we will invest our energy is equivalent to choosing God or rejecting Him. How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all? (Francis Chan, Crazy Love)


I was at a place in my life where I was very aware of my "worthless idols" – those things that are empty, that do not "profit or deliver" me to the foot of the cross. I wanted to choose my Creator over the created things that He has so graciously given me. I wanted to know again the desire to sit at His feet and be fully known by Him. I wanted to boldly come before the throne of grace – and, at that time, I didn’t remember what that looked like.

Now, I don't want to say that Facebook is entirely empty or without value. Facebook can be a great communication tool. It can be a great way to keep in touch with old friends at various distances, but it can also be a great source of discouragement, heartache, and even bitterness. The news feed highlights our fallen nature like few other places can, and I’ve been known to break down over what I see in my husband’s news feed when simply logging in to post something on our teen ministry page. 

Two years later, I periodically re-visit the topic. Should I go back? Is my heart yet in a place where I can handle the brokenness? Do I have a vision for using it that will glorify God rather than promote myself (let’s be honest – Facebook is about the individual)? 

And my answer continues to be “No.” 

Maybe you’re battling with some of the same questions, or maybe you’re not. Regardless of where you stand with any form of social media, I encourage you to look at it from the standpoint that Facebook, Twitter, and the “blogosphere” are not “God-free” zones. Pray about God’s role in how you use and make decisions about social media – that what you do in online spaces will reflect your desire to choose the Creator rather than what He has enabled men to create.

Because two years “sober,” I am extremely grateful that I took the time to examine my own heart and choose. You won’t regret it, either.

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