The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age (Part 2)

VI. Man was A. Man was made in God's image (GEN 1:26) and He is God in Three Persons. 1JO 5:7. B. The church is built of mutually supporting members. 1CO 12:21. C. This new digital world with its social networking, emails, and texts boasts itself a utopia for human connection. 1. We can now connect with long-lost relatives, friends, co-workers, and classmates from around the country or world. 2. People commonly have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook or LinkedIn. 3. But has all this digital connection actually improved our relationships and our fullness as individuals? D. Scripture emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interaction. wired from the beginning with a need for human connection. GEN 2:18. The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 5 1. When the apostle John could have continued his letter to the elect lady and written many more things which he had to say, he decided to wait and speak to them face to face. 2JO 1:12. a. His reason for doing so?: “...that our joy may be full.” b. John likewise had many more things to say to Gaius, but rather waited in order to tell him face to face. 3JO 1:13-14. c. Though far more personal than email, texts, or Facebook, even hand- written letters are inferior to face-to-face communication. 2. Jesus' disciples had sorrow when they were told they would not see Him anymore but when they would see him again, their hearts would rejoice. JOH 16:17, 22. 3. While writing Timothy a letter, Paul told him that he greatly desired to see him that he might be filled with joy. 2TI 1:4. 4. Paul, writing to the Romans, said he longed to see them so that he could be comforted together with them. ROM 1:11-12. 5. The elders at Ephesus wept sore and sorrowed that they would see Paul's face no more. ACT 20:37-38. 6. We should all long to be with Jesus and see His face. 1JO 3:2; REV 22:3-4. C. It's especially important for church members to see each other often. 1. It was said of those who feared the LORD that they spake often one to another. MAL 3:16. 2. This meant face-to-face communication. 3. This is one reason why it's important for all church members, both resident and non-resident, to be in attendance as often as they can. 4. Christians are to be our preferred companions. PSA 119:63. a. companion: One who associates with or accompanies another; a mate; a fellow. b. associate: To join (persons, or one person with (to arch.) another), in (to obs.) common purpose, action, or condition; to link together, unite, combine, ally, confederate. c. accompany: To accompany (a person or thing) to (another): to add as companion; to associate; to add or conjoin to. d. When one is a companion with another they are joined together. D. Consider the following observations from The Digital Invasion regarding the drawbacks and dangers of digital connections: 1. “Digital contacts can never compensate for real face-to-face human contact with those you love. The concern is this detachment's impact on how parents attach to children and in turn affect the attachment style they will develop. We are designed for real-life attachments where we are seen, valued, and heard. It is in our closest relationships that we experience this. If our brain system becomes more attached to digital gadgets and detached from people, our relational skills will atrophy. We are already seeing evidence of this.” (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, p. 70) 2. “Research shows that human connection is one of the keys to happiness. Connections are what make us human and are the core of how we express our humanity.” (Ibid, p. 92) 3. “Unfortunately, the digital social media that now dominates our lives tends to foster more self-centeredness than deeper connections.” (Ibid, p. 93) The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 6  4. “A good rule of thumb for yourself, and to teach to your children, is to use the digital world to relay necessary information, but communicate deeper thoughts and emotions in direct face-to-face encounters. This is essential in today's digital world for laying the foundation of healthy connections and relationships.” (Ibid, pp. 96-97) 5. “Media has put us close to the people who are far away but has separated us from the ones who are nearby.” (Ibid, p. 162) 6. “As one expert puts it: 'Tech savvy our children are; life savvy they are not.' Children who socialize mainly via social media do not grasp the finer points of social interaction; they need human contact, coaching, and modeling.” (Ibid, p. 174) 7. “Current research also reveals that digital natives who spend most of their time in a virtual world will more likely be lonely.” (Ibid, p. 99) E. Other research has shown that excess digital connectedness induces depression. 1. “Scientists have confirmed that Facebook can make you miserable. A study comparing how young adults felt at different times of the day with their Facebook use showed that the more they logged onto the social networking site, the less happy they were. The more the participants had other forms of contact with people, such as face to face or over the phone, they tended to feel better over time....'On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection,' said Ethan Kross, a social psychologist who led the work at the University of Michigan. 'But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it.'” (Richard Gray, Science Correspondent for The Telegraph, art. Facebook Can Make You Miserable) 2. Contributing factors to the loneliness and depression are things like the celebrity mentality and the trap of measuring oneself by others' opinions or their perceived superiority. F. Here are some tips for overcoming loneliness and making real connections and friendships. 1. If you want a friend, be friendly. PRO 18:24. 2. Be upbeat and positive. You have a secure salvation, a certain future, a living hope, a conquered foe, a living Savior and High Priest, forgiveness of sins, the promises of the gospel, faith, and a sovereign God Who loves you, watches over you, limits the wicked and causes you to triumph in Christ. People are drawn more to the optimist than the pessimist and a Christian has more reason than anybody else to be optimistic. 3. People should know that you care about them. It is generally true that folks won't care about how much you know unless they know how much you care. Kindness is rarely penalized in this world. 4. Avoid self-promoting boasting, not only because it is a pride issue, but because few things repel acquaintances as quickly. NOTE: Glorying in Christ is not self-promoting boasting. GAL 6:14. 5. Skip the B.S. (Bogus Story-telling). People spot phonies and avoid them. 6. Be genuine, not an imitation of somebody you emulate, nor a chameleon who edits himself to fit in. 7. Be a good listener, “...swift to hear...” (JAM 1:19). 8. Frequent the same places at the same times. This will help you to see the same The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 7 people regularly which will help to naturally establish connections. 9. Try to at least say “hi” to people in your proximity. 10. Look up. Stop looking at your phone in public. You might just be missing opportunities to have real conversations. VII. The digital revolution has facilitated an epidemic of narcissism. A. narcissism: Self-love and admiration that find emotional satisfaction in self- contemplation. 1. The first characteristic of the perilous times of the last days is that “ shall be lovers of their own selves...” (2TI 3:2). 2. This is NOT the love of self that is the basis of the royal law. JAM 2:8. B. “Selfie” was awarded word of the year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionary. C. Social networking is a tailor-made platform for narcissism, and especially so, having developed on the heels of a generation steeped in the perilous psychology of self- esteem (favourable appreciation or opinion of oneself). D. “This journalist's experience also highlights one of the major drawbacks of our overuse of social media, namely, that it fosters the growth of narcissism, which is now seen as epidemic in our young people....Narcissists are preoccupied with themselves and are obsessed with what others think of them. They also believe that they are entitled to the attention of everyone else....Narcissists are not particularly interested in, or good at offering, warmth and caring in their social interactions. They can enjoy being around people and can be most charming, flattering, and likable. But it is all for their own benefit.” (Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Digital Invasion, p. 93) F. “If you are talented and narcissistic you might be able to attract a posse to follow you or an attractive 'trophy' partner. Online this might take the form of followers or friends--- research has found that grandiose narcissism predicts the humber of Twitter followers, Klout score and Facebook friends a person has.” (Dr. W. Keith Campbell, art. Are We More Narcissistic Than Ever Before?, The Independent, Aug. 28, 2014) G. One can easily see how Facebook is a narcissist's dream. 1. They get to be a star, at least in their own eyes. 2. They post all the best pictures of themselves. 3. They post updates about their every move, as if people actually care what they are doing. 4. They get to promote a false image of themselves which is much more interesting than the real person. 5. This has all become fashionable for adults and children but children are especially at risk as they are in the formative stage of emotional development and this self-love can set them up for premature destruction through pride. PRO 16:18. a. “Dr. Jessemy Hibbard, a chartered clinical psychologist, said, 'Images are a way for young people to seek approval and attention from their peers. However they can also lead to cyber bullying and issues with self confidence. The majority of teens post the photos in search of assurance and compliments, but they are making themselves vulnerable to negative comments and abuse. It's all about comparison and young people are using social media to measure themselves against others. If a teenager posts a picture and it doesn't get any 'likes' or if it is their birthday and The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 8 they don't receive a certain number of posts, they see that as an embarrassment. It is seen as an indication that they are not popular. There is an expectation now amongst young people that they should get comments on all of their posts and images....Social media sites have come under scrutiny recently following the suicide of 14 year-old Hannah Smith after she was targeted by trolls on the social networking site'” (Rosa Silverman et. al., The Telegraph, art. Selfie Photographs Trend Puts Children at Risk of Abuse) b. It doesn't help when parents are always telling their children how pretty, smart, or talented they are. G. Narcissism is just another word for pride. 1. pride: A high or overweening opinion of one's own qualities, attainments, or estate, which gives rise to a feeling and attitude of superiority over and contempt for others; inordinate self-esteem. 2. Pride was Satan's downfall; he was the first narcissist. 1TI 3:6 c/w EZE 28:17. 3. Pride is sin. MAR 7:22. 4. Pride comes not from God (IJO 3:16); God hates pride. PRO 8:13; 16:5. 5. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. JAM 4:6. a. humble: adj. Having a low estimate of one's importance, worthiness, or merits; marked by the absence of self-assertion or self-exaltation; lowly: the opposite of proud. b. Humility, not pride, is the key to success. JAM 4:10; PRO 18:12; 22:4. 6. Even huge tech companies like Google recognize this. World Net Daily interviewed Google Senior Vice President of Operations Laszlo Bock and found the following: a. “Bock cites a common error in 'successful' people without intellectual humility: 'They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. ... What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’” (Bob Unruh, Google: GPAs, Test Scores 'Worthless', World Net Daily, 2/24/2014) b. “'Without humility, you are unable to learn,' he said.” (Ibid) H. What one talks about tells you much about him. 1. “...of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (LUK 6:45). 2. Your heart is where your treasure is. MAT 6:21. 3. If one is posting voluminously about himself on Facebook, including how wonderful his family is, how great his job is, how nice of things he has, the great vacation he went on, and how interesting of a person he is; what does that tell you about what he thinks about the most? The answer: himself. 4. It's a fool who is only interested in himself. PRO 18:2. I. It is very easy to fall into pride. 1. Even things that seem innocent might not be if they are done for the wrong reason. The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 9 2. This could be making posts about your children, your job promotions, pictures of yourself, your house, car, etc. J. There is a need for introspection. 1. Before you post anything on a social networking site, ask yourself why you are posting it. 2. If you are posting it to make yourself look good or to impress others, don't post it. K. Remember what Scripture teaches against seeking the praise of men, especially if you are measuring your worth by others' opinions. 1. First, it is not good to have a heavy dietary need for other's praise. PRO 25:27. 2. It is unwise to measure ourselves amongst and by ourselves. 2CO 10:12. 3. Paul deemed the opinion of men about himself to be of much less importance than God's opinion of him. 1CO 4:3-4. 4. Looking for approval? Remember: a. (PRO 27:2) Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. b. (2CO 10:18) For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. 5. If others don't praise you (per PRO 27:2), don't sweat it. If your works are good works, who cares if nobody but God takes notice of them? His “likes” are the best and bring the only true satisfaction and peace to the soul. ISA 49:4; 1JO 3:21. 6. We are to love the praise of God more than the praise of men. JOH 12:43; 5:44; ROM 2:29. 7. We are particularly warned against being liked by an unbelieving world that we should rather hope would “unfriend” us. LUK 6:26; JOH 15:19; JAM 4:4. 8. People that live for the recognition and praise of other men set themselves up for traps. PRO 29:5. The Downside and Dangers of the Digital Age 12-21-14 Page 10
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