Screens, Society and Scripture - part 1
September 20, 2020 | Brent Long
Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-7
Title of message: Screens, Society and Scripture
God created us for relationships to have a good relationship with Him and others
-What is a relationship? – a connection, association or involvement
-We all have a deep desire to feel like we belong through being connected
For this very reason is why social media was invented: to use the tool of technology to help stay connected with people.
History of modern tech:
1998 - Google started as a search engine
2000 – Google started monetizing business with advertisements
2004 - Facebook started by Mark Zuckerburg while in college at Harvard and was only available for college students
Sept 2006 - Facebook open to everyone
December 2006: Facebook - 12mil users
2006 - Google exploded, Google bought YouTube
-a decision needed to be made on how to monetize Facebook
Facebook modeled themselves after Google’s success
-Twitter was created in 2006
2007 – 100,000 companies signed up by end of 2007 with Facebook
***2007 = first smartphone introduced with iphone***
2009 – 300 mil users, FarmVille
-first time facebook became available on mobile devices
2010 – 500 mil users, worth $41 billion
***Google offers their first smartphone with Android
***2011 – Snapchat released
2012 - Facebook buys Instagram and goes public on stock market
2014 – Facebook buys WhatsApp
2016 – Facebook - 1.5 billion users, 3mil advertisers, $3.69 bil profits
2019- Facebook - 2.7 bil users, 7 mil advitisers, $70.7 bil in revenue (2019)
***2019 – Google has $160 bil in rev ($134 from ads)
-with $160 Billion – Google could buy every residential house in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton with the profit they make in 1 year
-every house in Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Montgomery Co
Big tech industries: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, google, YouTube
-they have morphed from just providing a useful, functional service for the user to making their platforms as a massive profit making machine
Key is in understanding the business model.
What are tech companies being paid for?
-traditionally companies sell products
-past 10 years, tech companies sell users
-there are 3 main groups of people involved on a technology platform
-1. Tech company, 2. Advertisers, 3. Users
Who is the customer the tech companies want to please?
-the one who pays their bills – not users, the advertisers
-Advertisers are the customers of a tech company that are buying user information and time
-If you’re not paying for the app, you are the product
-Tech companies are competing for your attention to keep you engaged on the screen and to get as much time from you as possible
Services by tech companies are “free” to users
Why are they free?
They aren’t free. They are paid for by advertisers.
Why do advertisers pay those companies?
They pay in exchange for showing their ads to users.
Users are the product. Our attention is being sold to advertisers.
Internet companies are the richest companies in the history of the world because they track, measure, record everything online. Everything seen on your screen is categorized and tracked and timed to the very second.
They don’t just sell our data. They build models that predict our actions. Those with the best algorithm model wins.
Addictive time draining
Tech companies try to make platforms as addictive as possible to increase time users spend on app
-Swiping is the same as being addicted to gambling on a slot machine
-dopamine hit every time you see something you like
You are being manipulated to look at more ads so they can make more money
-As a user of social media, do you feel used???
The Bible uses the word “addicted” only 1 time in the Bible.
-Somebody do a word search on a Bible app on the word addicted and see what we should be addicted to instead.
-1 Cor 16:15 – “…they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints”
There are meaningful, positive outcomes of technology that we didn’t have a decade or 2 ago.
“Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are.” New York Times article “the documented life” by sherry Turkle
Social media gives you thoughts you didn’t intend to have because a designer decided how notifications work on your cell phone you wake up to each morning
-Cell phones are dominating our attention to influence us what we think and when we think it
Time is one of our most valuable limited resources that we can’t afford to waste.
-Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Psychological effects of mobile devices
Lie: – Cell phones give the illusion that I am the center of my universe
Truth: – God is the center of the universe (I’m important but not as important as God)
-in order to live whole, satisfying lives, you must catch good ideas and avoid catching bad ones
-this current generation is not centered in the God of the Bible or a relationship in Christ
-Their selves and their technology are most important.
-Without realizing it, they have become their own gods.
-people are like wheels where they are the center axel and all spokes of life (family, peers, ideas, goals, school, church, media…) all point to them. Everything in life is designed to serve them.
-many people think God is there to meet their needs, to keep them happy and to serve them
-it’s a foreign thought to think that God has His own ideas that won’t always agree with theirs
-people feel they have “control” over what happens on their phone
-they choose what they want to watch, look at, research, or play
-they choose who to talk to, befriend or ignore
-their phone is a buffet of options where they are in control to choose what and when they want it
Narcissism – excessive interest and admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance
-name comes from Greek mythology of Narkissos. He became obsessed with his reflection in the water after being rejected by a nymph. He eventually just pined away, only loving himself.
-narcissism will usually result in isolation and loneliness. It is hard for others to be their friends.
-from 2012-2013, the use of the word “selfie” increased by 17,000%
-“Selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013
-2 Tim 3:1-2 – end times – people lovers of their own selves
Social media takes over self-worth and identity
-we were not created to have everyone’s approval all of the time
-“We build our lives around a perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals (hearts, likes, thumbs up) and we conflate that with value and with truth. It becomes fake, brittle popularity that is short-term and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it. Then it forces you into this vicious cycle asking you ‘what is the next thing I need to do?’ because I need it back. Think about this compounded by 2 billion people and think about how people react to the perceptions of others. It’s really bad. It’s really, really bad.”
-quote by former VP of growth at Facebook- chamath palihapitiya
Online friends are not always real friends
-stressed if connected – constantly updating about self and reassuring others
-stressed if not connected – feel like missing out and out of the loop
-vicious cycle of exhaustion
-we need to pay attention to make sure we do not equate online interactions as having the same value as offline relationships
2011-2013 - there was a huge increase in anxiety and depression for American teens
From 2009-2015 - us hospitalization admissions for non-fatal self harm is up 62% for girls from age 15-19 (400k to 650k) and up 189% for girls age 10-14 (100k to 300k)
From compared to 2001-2010 average to 2011-2020- Deaths from suicide is up 70% for girls age 15-19 and up 151% for girls age 10-14
2007 - first smartphone introduced
2009 - social media available on mobile devices
Gen Z- kids born after 1996 are first kids that got in social media in middle school
We used to shelter our kids to protect them from bad influences.
Now kids are on YouTube and social media where all of those protections are gone.
Constantly living in a perfectly filtered electronic world makes you feel unaccepted, ugly, rejected and defective in the real world.
-social media causes an impossible standard for competition and judgmental comparisons
-this puts pressure to make you think you need to be perfect instead of just accepting yourself for how God made you.
-1 Sam 16:7 – “…for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
-Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
-fearfully – reverently, respectably
-wonderfully – distinguished, set apart
-you were created as a masterpiece by God to be respected and set apart with great value
-but at the same time you are not the center of the universe
-you are important but not more important than God.
-you are important because God created you after His image
What is truth? – Pilate asks Jesus this in John 18:38
-endless false accusations, unreasonable violence and riots
Google, YouTube, social media- filters what you see to what you like the most
-it’s different for every person that diminishes truth and exalts skewed opinions
- this is how wide divides in political, religious views become polarized
- Propaganda and borderline brainwashing
- Fake news spreads 6 times faster than true news
- The tech company algorithms have a bias towards false information because it spreads faster than the truth and makes the companies more money.
- Tech companies make more money on unregulated messages to reach anyone for the best price
- People have no idea what is true and now people are acting out on misinformation
- The line is blurred on what is a staged video and true documentation
Here are some interesting quotes from “The Social Dilema”:
“Imagine a world that doesn’t believe anything that is true. They believe the government is lying. everything is a conspiracy theory. I shouldn’t trust anyone. I hate the other side. This is where all of this is heading. Democracy crumbles. Riots are headed by staged actors that are trying to destabilize well established governments. Do we want culture wars that is available to the highest bidder?”
“If everyone is entitled to their own facts, there is no need to compromise or interact. We need to have some shared understanding of reality.”
“Google doesn’t have a compass for truth other than profit for another click.”
“If we don’t agree on what is true or that there is such a thing as truth. This is the root of our problems because if we can’t agree on what is true, then we can’t navigate out of any of our problems.”
They are asking the same question as Pilate “What is truth?”
2 Timothy 3:7 – “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
John 17:17 – “thy word is truth”
-we need a steady, healthy diet of the truth of God’s Word in order to not fall prey to inaccurate opinions, attitudes or actions
-the more you are in digital media, the more you need to be in your Bible
Cell phones and media are fantastic tools but remember that they developed on purpose to keep you hooked on it.
How have you been balancing your time?
-have you been distracted from other things that are more important?
-quiet time with God, time with your spouse, time with your kids, time serving the Lord, time sharing God’s Word, time serving others
How have you been in your pursuit of truth?
-do you believe any piece of fake news that you read or view?
-do you limit your exposure to unreliable sources?
-do you maximize your time in God’s Word to be the foundation of truth in your life?
-do you share the truth with others that need to be saved and have questions?
How have you been affected by media?
-have you found yourself to be overly self-centered?
-are you only primarily concerned about your wants and desires?
-who is the center of your universe? You or God?
-are you buckling under the pressure of having to keep up with social media?
-are you depressed thinking that you don’t measure up to an unrealistic standard?
God is the solution to all our needs
-we need to give God more of our time to know the truth and to have stability in our life
Paul's favorite church may have well been the church at Philippi. He shares three things that are encouraging to him and should be part of our life. He first give Thanks - there is always reason for the child of God to give thanks. Secondly he prayers. We must always pray one for another. Three Paul is confident that God will complete the good work He has started in our life.