thumbs up to a cultural idol
Why the Facebook “like” has contributed to a society in social & moral decline
If you find yourself posting material or sharing what’s on your mind, be very careful of your motive for doing so. Keeping family members and close friends abreast of things: great. Fueling the engine of SELF: very dangerous. The “like,” very unfortunately, has become a measuring stick for Facebook users. The more “likes”, shares and comments, the better they're doing. Do you see a reason for concern? We were all fashioned to have a measuring stick but it was never intended to be social media, it was and is supposed to be Jesus. Jesus and nothing shy or beyond Jesus, anything else that we give our time and devotion to would qualify as an idol. The “like” is symbolic, in a sense, of a broader cultural phenomenon; the phenomenon of social media, reality TV, sensationalized and agenda-driven, divisive news media, and more. These things have been both distracting and way too influential in defining who we are and what we believe. Let this serve as an urgent call for a spirit of discernment for the church in this age.
Especially in the wake of an emotional presidential election, we should be ever more slow to speak and quick to listen from the channels of social media. If there was a time in recent memory where Christians had an opportunity to be humble and to not sink a dividing societal wedge even deeper, it's now, and it's on social media, as well as in our conversations. Here is a list of general cautions to consider if you are facebook user.
Cultural Relativism: redefining words at the expense of truth
1. It has redefined the meaning of the word ‘like’
Similar to that of ‘love,’ which is a word that’s been greatly weakened by American cultural syntax, the word ‘like’ has suffered the same fate. So much so that if it’s used in conversation it many times might need to be clarified; are you talking about actually liking something or are you talking about “liking” something, as in that thing you posted? Here is another example: if we knew that the word ‘Diva’ essentially means ‘female goddess,’ would we be so quick to label talented young singers as such? If you don’t believe God’s sovereignty is agreeable, than you’re probably more inclined to use this language, but to those of us who want to please God in word and deed, we should probably avoid considering entertainers as divine. The word ‘Diva’ is commonplace today in our culture, and we’re quick to dish it out to the independent and sassy girls out there like we’re paying them a compliment. But what are we really doing when we say that?
2. It’s indicative of shallowness
Shallowness, most basically, reflects lack of depth. The plants springing forth from shallow soil, according to Jesus’ Parable of the Sower,' wither under the sun’s heat because they do not have deeply seeded roots. Now this parable, of course, applies to the word of God, as the seed is God’s spoken and written word. I’m not trying to force this point on unsuspecting Facebook fiends because clearly many Facebook users and more generally, people, do not believe in God and value the Bible. I do, however, think the fruit of the “like” and its effects in our culture is characteristic of a lack of substance. Substance of faith for the Christian, perhaps; substance of character, principle, confidence, virtue, and social/spiritual aptitude for the believer and unbeliever alike, I think so.
There are two core reasons I think the Facebook frenzy promotes shallowness:
– We’re deriving our worth and our identity from our Facebook activity. I’ve personally observed people that are visibly shaken and directed by how many likes they received from a Facebook post. This is a really big problem; living out the Gospel in your own situation is neither a popularity contest nor up to anyone other than you…
– It’s easier to delight in or denounce something from the comfort of one’s office chair or smart phone screen. We’re designed for community and relationships; when we substitute personal interaction and straightforward and honest communication with likes, posts, shares and ‘electronic opinions,’ we strip community, relationship and Christ-like communication of its power.
3. It’s an idol, or at least it’s inclined to become one
As you can see from the definition of idol below, something becomes so if it appeals to us as an object of devotion, or in other words, something worthy of our praise or worship. I suppose it comes down to how much time and effort we give facebook. If we spend more time and effort surfing our news feeds over communicating with and being present with God, then I’d say we are guilty of idolatry in this form.
“An image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.” Idol – Dictionary.com
We’re even so proud, or to be fair, ignorant, of what an idol is and what it means that one of our (as Americans) most popular prime time TV programs over the past decade has been: American Idol. It’s right there in the title! We tend to hold up that which is visual, catchy and entertaining over that which has substance and requires faith. So here we are in 2016 with a long running TV program, a favorite for many Americans, that actually glorifies an item of worship other than Jehovah God. It’s my hope and prayer that we quickly come to the realization that holding assorted idols above God, whether relevant to our culture or not, comes at a cost.
4. Our precious, precious time
Like any other thing that takes up our time and consequently becomes our “master,” it’s only productive to question its fruit in our lives. This could apply to many other things besides facebook too, like TV, video games or even romance novels. How has reality TV contributed to your intimacy with God lately? How have those mystical romance novels helped with your understanding of God and His love? Has your recent Halo ‘all-nighter’ reinforced a healthy relationship with your spouse? When we spend our time immersed in these types of things our beliefs will even tend to change; we begin to view the cast of Survivor and their circumstances and victories as truth instead of the truth, as defined by the one true God.
I can’t help but think of John’s charge to the Ephesian church in Revelation Chapter two in looking ahead toward America’s future, good, bad, indifferent or God forbid, lukewarm. I think we could do well as the American church if we hear this message and herald it.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the d]deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” REVELATION 2:4-5