(******I apologize to those who are on my subscribe list. I accidentally hit publish Tuesday instead of save so you all got a partially written confusing post. My bad!*******)
Lately I am starting to see my future middle-aged self seep into my current life in the form of ginger ale, salt and vinegar chips, puzzles and of course, watching documentaries. You don’t get this cool, this early, without trying! (finger gun, finger gun, blows imaginary air. Oh yeah!) You can imagine how my attention was peeked when I saw mention of an interesting documentary that aired on PBS recently. The documentary is called “Generation Like“.
The synopsis reads “Thanks to social media, teens are able to directly interact with their culture — celebrities, movies, brands — in ways never before possible. But is that real empowerment? Or do marketers hold the upper hand? In “Generation Like,” Douglas Rushkoff explores how the teen quest for identity has migrated to the web — and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with them.”
The documentary goes beyond just the marketing aspect of teens and social media. It also explores, in detail, the obsession of teens (and LET’S BE HONEST 20 and 30 somethings) have with being “liked”.
Liked as in the measurable little button you find on Facebook.
He is kin to the “retweet” button on Twitter and fraternal twin to the “Like” button on Instagram just to name a few of the most popular social media options.
The show highlights the social and emotional power of having what you post or say be “liked”. So much so that is the driving force and currency of self esteem. Careful, methodical thought is placed on how things are phrased, what product, movie, TV show, song, clothes are endorsed, what photos are used to represent yourself, etc…. As the likes, comments and retweets start rolling in the emotional “high” is visibly seen and felt. Self esteem is bolstered, worth established, value is in tact, ticker tape falls…you did it….you are liked by the general public…(most of whom a user has no idea who they are). You have now earned the right to take up space in the world. TODAY. Just today. You have to do it all over again tomorrow.
I got to be honest.I made it through about half of it before I started to feel like I could vomit. I’m not kidding. The more I watched the sicker I felt in my stomach. I was torn between feeling guilt (rightfully so) and feeling sad and horrified for my children. I know I’m not selling you on this documentary but I think it needs to be watched. I’m sure I will revisit the second half soon but for now I am still digesting the reality of what I saw in the first half.
Let me try to unpack in front of you.
Guilt. I felt guilt because I know I am a part of Generation Like. I may be almost 38…but I am on social media in some form daily.
I peaced out Twitter a few years ago so that’s not my main vice. Facebook….I have to be honest. I am pretty selfish and self serving on it. I rarely click my home feed to read or look at other people’s lives. I find I can’t stomach it. I am APPALLED at what people post as status updates or questionable photos that assault me. INTIMATE glimpses or heck…full views…into their personal lives and marriages. People say AWFUL and hateful things about their spouses as they go through bitter divorces or break ups. Full fledge arguments over politics, religion, sports, policies. People can be ugly, mean, boastful, rude, crude, ignorant, showy, and BORED!!! Help me out Someecards.
Now before you get all huffy and defensive about Facebook. I do see there are times, albeit VERY rarely, when FB is a good and noble thing. I have seen major calls to prayer on behalf of others suffering, sick or dying. I’ve seen money raised for amazing causes like adoption, medical bills, disaster relief, missions, etc. I love seeing people I care about get engaged, married, or that they had children. I mean if we are truly friends then I celebrate your life’s “high moments”. That is…IF I click my feed.
You want to know my honest use for FB? To sell items in my house to help de-clutter and generate cash, help sell our home when we move, let people know on the rare occasion I blog, or when we have needed serious prayer coverage for family and to put up pictures of my children because my parents don’t live local. That’s it. I admit it. I am a giant user of FB. It isn’t that I don’t care, it’s that I don’t care about 95% of what I read or see on FB therefore I can’t click the newsfeed and get sucked into the voyeurism that is packaged as “status updates” and “albums”.
My social media affection belongs to Instagram. Yeah…I’m a “grammer”. I gram. You gram? Out of all the social media outlets this one “feels” the most intimate and succinct. I truly love instagram it feels more like a little community. Facebook, TO ME, seems to be this bizarre collective of people from my past and present that I have ZERO relationship with or much in common. I could probably shave off 90% of my “friends” and they would never know. Beside the initial friend acceptance where you quickly scour their page for photos and do the “size up”. Have I aged better? Oh they are divorced already. Wow, five kids…that’s crazy! I’ve never once revisited. It’s just true and probably sounds horrible. I’m just being honest people!
You are probably saying (with a little bit of a snarky tone if you are protective of FB) “Then why don’t you close your account Kelly? Or unfriend those people?” Touche! I’ve begun my shave down process actually. As much as I’d like to close it down 100% the 10% of the people that are my true friends and real community…well I DO want to read their thoughts and see their pictures. I want my parents to see their grandkids growing up. As much as I’d like to fight it….MANY people use the “group” option to plan events that I would otherwise not hear about. It seems to be a necessary item in my life but one I need to do a major overhaul on.
My last statement on guilt is that I understand the power of LIKE. I might not be 15 but I do CAREFULLY select what photos I am willing to use to represent me to the general public. I want to die a thousand deaths when someone tags me in a photo and I’m sitting with horrible posture or my saddlebags are in full effect, or my recessed chin is kicking. How dare ANYONE in cyber world know I have flaws. Say it isn’t so.
I know that I too, usually subconsciously, but sometimes fully aware am calculating the “likeability” of what I have said or posted. I feel inflated or deflated at the response or lack of response generated. I start to question my taste, my thoughts, my physical appearance. REALLY???? I let, often times strangers determine my worth!! I’m still learning I need to always keep my motives in check.
The fact is I am abundantly blessed with “like”. I have a husband that ADORES me, children that love on me even when I am fully RAW with coffee breath, stinky body, greasy hair, mismatched clothes…man they just love me. I am surrounded by some of the best darn girlfriends on the planet. My “sisters”, my Hur’s and Aaron’s. I AM LOVED. Beyond those physical people in my life I have a Heavenly Father that calls me “Princess”, “Daughter of the Most High”, “Heir”, “Friend”. I am unconditionally loved. I have all of that security and eternal security around me and yet at times I can get caught up in wanting more currency of “likes”.
Finally I feel sad and horrified by the documentary.
My knee jerk watching was to have a good ole fashion technology burning in my back yard and move my family to a remote island. Yeah…that will solve it. TECHNOLOGY = BAD, EVIL, THE DEVIL. I may be a little extreme in my initial emotions. I’m thankful for my steady eddy husband. I think the mama bear in me was coming out. As I watched this table full of teens help one another find the perfect Facebook profile and discuss the drive for “likes” I got so sad that one day my children could possibly sit around with their friends and try to concoct a way to be “liked” by others. That they would not know and truly believe that their worth is found in Christ alone. These kids spend HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS a day on the computer on social media, stalking celebrities, being on fan pages, playing games, and God knows what else in private etc….
They are sick and dying a slow heart and mind death. We parents are all standing around with life jackets, buoys, and rafts but not throwing it out to them. “What can we do?” we say? We hang our heads and throw up our arms in defeat. “It’s just the way it is right?”. I mean the line in the documentary that stabbed me in the gut was, “Technology isn’t going away, it’s here to stay.” I already know this but somehow the potency of that reality suffocated me. It’s probably because my kids are getting older and the reality of social media, cell phones, laptops will all be on the table for discussion before I know it. Chloe actually said to us the other day “When I am nine I’m going to get a cell phone.” Cue my head shaking furiously back and forth and then exploding like a femnebot on Austin Powers. “Yeah, sure be happy to get you a phone, you want a Mac too?” SAID NO GOOD MOM, EVER!!! This led to an important discussion though. Where did she even get the idea that a kid could have a cell phone? That devil school I’m sure (I’m being sarcastic here)
How does a Christian parent find the line with this? It is unrealistic to expect to shelter our children 100% from technology. I mean my three year old was unlocking and flipping his way around my iphone when he was two. He tries to drag his finger across the TV assuming it must be touch screen as well. Reality….he probably will only know a touch screen world. My reality…I have a dirty TV screen.
So I can sit here with my thumbs in my ear shaking my head back and forth saying “lalalalalalalalala” but it doesn’t make it stop. There is also a bigger picture and a more disturbing reality than what age a kid should have a phone or laptop. It’s the fall out from technology that makes me hold my kids tighter. That is fueling the decisions we are making for our family right now.
Chew on this FB and Twitter lovers. Really if you click on the link there are TONS more “facts” if you can stomach it.
I’ve only shown you one chart. Search “technology addiction” and you won’t leave your computer for days from news reports, to psychological reviews, stats, articles, videos. This is an addiction of epidemic proportion and growing. You have to get your head in the game parents, pastors, 20,30 and 40 somethings. What will you do about this? What part do you play in this.
The greatest victim in the wake of technology addiction is REAL LIVE RELATIONSHIPS and COMMUNICATION SKILLS. We are raising a generation of children unable to communicate to a human face to face. They can not articulate feelings, offer comfort or sound advice, understand the longevity and work that relationships take, the art of forgiveness and grace. Our children are so severely relationally crippled. The very essence of what makes a relationship work: commitment and communication has been sacrificed on the alter of technology. What tragedy.
I have two WONDERFUL women in my life that I call my “pure friends”. They have never tweeted, they don’t Facebook, “gram” or “pin”. They only recently, in the last couple years, learned how to text. You know what they do instead. Wait for it, wait for it…the pick up the phone and CALL ME to see how I am doing and then wait for it…wait for it…they LISTEN to what my words are. The intentionality of their friendship is so incredibly refreshing that I almost forget what it’s like to have such a stripped down, technology free friendship. They remind me that it is very possible to not engage all the technology options and social media outlets but instead focus on loving and investing in people directly. What a revolutionary idea. I am so BLESSED because of their deep and abiding friendships in my life. I honestly think that is why I LOVE traveling to third world countries. You can’t use any technology and people TALK all day to one another….like face to face. Not facebook to facebook. ZING!
I do not want my children to be emotional and relational lepers. We honestly don’t have that much technology in our house and are probably some of the rarer Americans that have a tiny TV. We don’t have cable, our kids can’t use our phones, TV or computer without us. But…that’s not enough just having limited options.
We want to teach our kids how to be listeners, how to be compassionate, how to use their resources and supplies to bless others. We want them to be kingdom minded which comes in the form of service, putting others first. That’s why we have small group out of our home. We want to model it first before we ask it of them. Our front door is a revolving door of people all week. We are so close to the age of taking our older two on a mission trip where we feel they could actually be a part of the work at hand. I seriously can’t wait to get them out of the country and show them how big our God is, how beautiful people are, how great the need for them to rise up and take hold of their giftings and start serving is. I long for my children to get “it”. When we KNOW who we are in Christ then we won’t have a head on a swivel turning to the left and the right as Psalms says…our children will be looking straight ahead. If they get kingdom vision early enough then the false lover of technology and the addition of getting “liked” by strangers will look foolish, false, a waste of time, laughable. I feel the answer is in showing our kids “a better way”.
Know that my heart and tone of this post is not accusatory. I’m not over here shining up my halo. We aren’t doing it all right, our kids aren’t perfect little human beings following in our perfect parenting footsteps. If my toddler gets ornery at the grocery store you better believe I shove my iphone in his face for 15 mins so I can finish up and hightail it out of there. If we have adults over that are opening up their huearts to us and our kids are being loud crack heads in the other room then YEAH…we put a movie on and shove popcorn down their throats. We are learning to incorporate and balance technology. We are arming ourselves for the battle ahead for our kids. I feel the answer is simple. Use technology as Jesus would use technology. Would Jesus whip his phone out while you are sharing your heart in front of him and check FB, or tweet about the awesome meal he is having or stop your conversation and take a quick photo for Instagram? Not even close. I’ve been guilty of all of the above. I miss those moments to fully engage all the time. I’m aware of it and I am in battle stance for myself and my children. I hope I can boldly say to them “Do as I do kids” and not shamefully say “Do as I say, not as I do.”
How about you? What do you think about the technology addiction epidemic? How are you actively combating it personally and in your home? Id love to hear thoughts or suggestions!