[This post contains explicit descriptions and is not suitable for all audiences]
Porn and Objectification
Porn turns people into objects to use and then discard. A Princeton University study has actually shown that “viewing pictures of scantily clad women activated the ‘tool-use part’ of men’s brains, causing them to view women as tools to be used.”[i]
There is something about physical harm and pain that reminds us to look before we… leap. Why? Because we leaped one too many times without looking and our brain has trained us not to do that again. That’s the way our brains work. And our brains work well. That is, at least, for a lot of things. However, our brains may work against us when it comes to others things.
We sit down and watch a cute, funny dog video on YouTube and that’s fine; no pain. Actually, we quite enjoy it. Our brains do not tell us: Look before you… watch. So, we don’t. We don’t consider what we watch or how often we watch because, after all, we like it.
What is “entertainment”? What does that word mean? It has been defined in this way: “the action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.” So, entertainment gives us pleasure, enjoyment, and diversion; especially by a performance of some kind. For instance, I was entertained at NitroCircus when Travis Pastrana did a double backflip on a dirt bike.
To quote someone from a different arena, it would have been fitting for Pastrana to scream out:
“Are you not entertained?! Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you are here?!”
There is a danger that people will die in entertaining us but is there also a danger for us as we are endlessly entertained?
Neil Postman wrote in 1985 about the danger of, as his book title says, Amusing Ourselves to Death, and that was before public internet, let alone social media and the smart phone. It is not an understatement to say that we are likely to amuse ourselves to death. There are serious health risks for us when all we care about is entertainment. There is the further danger that we’re not living and loving as we should. We’re liable to amuse ourselves until death, and never do anything worthwhile with the time we’ve been given.
I have found Evernote very helpful. It allows you to create shelves, notebooks, and pages so that you can keep various lists and thoughts on any number of topics. It also allows you to tag everything. It has helped me be more organized and it has been very helpful because it is always with me and accessible. Actually, the first draft of this post was written on Evernote over the course of a few days. [free]
Advice: Use Evernote. And take the time to learn from the tutorials. It will be worth it to organize your notes and be able to find and track your thoughts.
I have found this app very helpful. You can save articles in Pocket, tag them for quick recall, and even share on social media. My favorite thing about this app is that it will read to me! I can now drive and “read” articles. [free]
Advice: Don’t spend all your time pocketing things, actually read stuff. Second, there’s no way to underline or make notes so screenshot the parts you want to capture and add them Evernote.
A few important and relevant things I’ve found to be true through my short tenure on earth:
1. Statistics can be skewed (in all sorts of ways).
2. Money talks, and sometimes money makes people talk about facts that don’t actually exist.
3. “Sound bits” don’t equal sound knowledge.
4. Video doesn’t always equal validation.
What do we think about the fact that we don’t think about the loads of media that we ingest? Could it be we’re taking in far too many social media “sugars” but we have no labels warning us? And is it possible that at times Facebook is making us “fat”?
We have no scale. But we constantly carry around electronic candy bars. We have no nurtrician facts and nothing that labels the ingredients but does that mean we should say “bottoms up” and consume everything? And with no boundaries telling us when to consume? No “dinnertime”?
If we gave media consumption half as much thought as we do to candy bar consumption that would promote a lot of health.
We’re all new to this digital age. Which makes us babies. And if you know babies you know they have little discretion when it comes to food consumption. They literally consume what comes straight from their momma’s hand (or the unmentioned other part of their body) and basically anything they find on the floor.
They’re inexperienced. And so are we. They don’t really know what they should consume and sometimes neither do we. However, what is true of babies is true of us. What we consume affects us.
A Few Questions
- Are you aware of what you consume and how much you consume?
- Have you considered if what you’re “feeding” on in your feeds promotes health?
- Do you think it’s true that what you consume affect you?
- What are some other good questions to consider regarding social media?
Have you ever cooked a live frog?
You shouldn’t. But I’ve been told the trick is putting the frog into a pot of water at room temperature and then slowly turning up the heat until the frog is cooked. If you put the frog in when the water’s boiling it will jump out (This is an analogy. Please do not boil live frogs).
Change that is imperceptible effects us greatly. Even if we don’t realize it, perhaps especially because we don’t realize it.
It is very interesting and important to ask how we are being “cooked.” What effect is the digital age having on us?
I picked the title mainly because of the alliteration. However, I think it actually gets at the way we should look at the question of how it is that we are being cooked (but I’ll let you be the judge of that).
First, I will not deny that the digital age has provided innumerable delights. I am not at all saying we should go back to the Stone Age or be Amish or something. I personally “like” Facebook and don’t mind Twitter. I like my IPhone even if it might be making me stupid.
However, we must be aware that even if something is a delight it doesn’t mean we can consume it without thought. I find delight in ice cream but that does not mean that I consume it without discretion.
Second, we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are connected with people and involved in community when we’re really just sitting on the toilet looking at what people are doing.
We can think that we know a lot, i.e. think we’re smart, when it’s really just our smart phone. We are indiscriminately taught and sold a certain worldview and view of prospering by feeds, blogs, and tweets. Yet who articulates, let alone thinks about, the impact that Snapchat, Instagram, and our new phone appendage has on us? Who checks their own pulse and asks if they are amusing their self to death?
Third, there are obvious dangers in the deceits that we have covered above but there are also other dangers we should consider.
There is a danger in thinking FaceTime is equivalent with face time. Is it? Who’s asking? Who cares?
Are men and women (and boys and girls!) so shaped and familiar with pornography that actual real, human, face-to-face, relationships are becoming irrelevant? Are people asking this question? Do people care?
How is Snapchat, the 140 characters of Twitter, and the funny sound bits all over the place shaping the way we think and concentrate? Are people asking this question? Does anyone care?
I could go on and on with these type of questions. But I won’t. I’ve likely already exceeded what we can handle!
There will be more to come. But perhaps I can start a much needed conversation with all my fellow Snapchat, tweeters, Instagrammers, and Facebook feeders that have a phone appendage like me.
Enter the Conversation
What thoughts do you have on the delights, deceits, and dangers of the digital age?
I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)