Recently, on one of those "too much time on social media" days, where my frustration and anger about all manner of things reached a Twitter-fueled boiling point, I took a break from technology and opened my (physical) Bible. I turned to the seven penitential psalms (Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143) and spent some time there.
We live in a time in America when everything is politicized. Everything is viewed through an us vs. them lens of political partisanship. And it is tragic and toxic. Why is it such a politically partisan thing to state that one is "pro life," for example? Step back from the years of abortion debates along partisan lines and ask yourself that question. You'd think that people from all political parties, all backgrounds and walks of life could unite around the conviction that all human lives, from embryos to the elderly, are imbued with a God-given dignity that must be protected. You'd think we could unite around protecting precious lives against abortion, torture, sexual violence, war crimes, police brutality, gun violence and the like. All because we believe in the sanctity of life. But alas.
I believe in journalism. I'm thankful for its truth-telling, spot-lighting potential (see last year's Oscar-winning film Spotlight, for example). But I sometimes fear for its future. As the media landscape continues to morph, what role can real journalism play? Donald Trump becoming president is certainly huge "news," but it's a headline that signals something foreboding rather than electrifying about the state of the news industry. Here's my attempt to make sense of how we got here. 1960s:
"Engagement" in terms of marriage is just a season; but in the broader sense it is a life's calling. I want to always be fully engaged with the life, love, beauty and experiences I am given.
As part of the Biola Digital Ministry Conference, I gave a seminar entitled "Becoming Social Media Savvy Without Losing Your Soul," in which I discussed the etiquette of social media and some of the potentials and pitfalls in how we can use it as Christians. What does it mean to represent Christ in the social media space? To get at this question, my presentation included 12 "dos" of social media and 12 "don't." Here they are below, starting with the "don'ts."
The ferociously partisan atmosphere in America these days isn't limited to Washington D.C., though it certainly is epitomized there. No, the divisive, bitter ambience in this country exists everywhere, from sea to shining sea. A few minutes on cable news or a cursory scroll through one's social media feed at any given moment confirms it. And it's getting worse.
As Christians, if we truly believe that each human is a precious being—that, as C.S. Lewis put it, “there is no mere mortal… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses”—then shouldn’t we be seeking to truly know others rather than to simply “keep tabs on” them through short updates, photo albums, and wall posts?
In America particularly, we are obsessed with the "next." We want to get something done and move on to the next thing. Perhaps this is why we consume media at such a breakneck speed and with such dizzying efficiency. But what does this do to our ability to 1) dwell on something for a long period of time, 2) discern what is worth thinking about and what isn't, and 3) value depth rather than breadth?
With an iPhone—which contains endless amounts of “task” potential within its aluminosilicate glass frame—“spare time” is a foreign concept, because when the world is literally in your pocket, there’s always something to do. But really, these “things to do” (that they are called “tasks” or “applications” is a clever way to convince us of their utility) are mostly just distractions. The iPhone is perhaps the greatest one-stop-shop distraction-generating device of our time.
We Live in Public is an insightful but ridiculous film. It correctly theorizes that the Internet is pushing culture in the direction of vast openness and away from old notions of privacy. But, ridiculously, it assumes this will be some sort of jarring, fascist, unwelcome surprise, or that we won't all gleefully collude in the erosion of privacy. We will, and we are.