Of privacy, porn, influence and eternity

2014-06-08 14.07.50

So the brilliant, beautiful young woman, she freaked us out.

We followed her over the razor wire and she walked us through landmines. She showed us how the shrapnel hits when you run wild and stupid through the minefields of social media and the law.

And a mom can get kinda overwhelmed.

Because we’re the generation of digital immigrants raising digital natives and we still have the accents of the homeland but these kids, they’re fluent in screen. I’m trying to figure out obedience in life and online so I delete the terror. Dropbox the truth to my heart for anywhere, anytime:

It’s true that we have to navigate the technosphere. Harness its power. Detect its dangers. Because it’s not going away. We can’t diminish its power or attraction. Devices have changed the way we plan, process and form relationships. We mentally hashtag conversations. Pin memories. Filter and analyse and assimilate and synthesise constantly. And we’re dumber for it. We skim far and shallow. It’s an effort to read deep.

It’s true that social media has built highways to porn and all things dodgy. It’s true that twitter and texting relentlessly distract. It’s true that we’re less about (warm body) conversation and more about (virtual) connection. It’s true that links to a vast and instant audience ultimately isolate us. And I think of that boy I taught – busy on his tablet in class and annoyed at the guy looking over his shoulder. He said, ‘Dude, it’s an iPad. Not an usPad.’

But it’s also true that social media is freakin’ incredible. Because never in history has it been faster or easier to spread hope. And I think how God’s people should be active on social media because, used well, it gives us a voice for his glory in immediate and far-reaching communities.

And when I worry about my boys – because Minion Rush and Angry Birds can evolve within a decade into hormone rush and sexy birds – and when I worry about future girls who will selfie themselves seductive to my sons’ phones – I remember how it’s true that there is grace for this generation and we were born for such a time as this because the prophet declared it bold – ‘Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?’ (Isaiah 41:4) God is bigger than Facebook. Smartphones didn’t take him by surprise. When he etched love and law on stone tablets he knew we would have these tablets with tweets swiped slick.

It’s true that ‘nothing under the sun is truly new.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Sure, Jesus didn’t Instagram his life. But he ‘understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.’ (Hebrews 4:15) It’s true that our access to people and information has changed over millennia. But chemistry and social rhythms – human needs and deficiencies – those things don’t change. Paul said it then and he says it again: ‘The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13)

And it’s true that ‘by his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.’ (2 Peter 1:13) He promises wisdom (James 1:5) to raise kids shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16) – kids with an astounding Kingdom role to play in their generation.

All this truth? It demands courage.

Because we need to be brave enough to model honesty and accountability. To parent with unveiled faces (2 Corinthians 3:18) and be sure that our values around the dinner table are our values online. To show our kids how privacy happens in homes within walls between people who love and trust and that it’s possible to have no-phone-zones – sacred spaces that don’t need to be status updates. We need to teach them that their only online protection is integrity.

We need to be brave enough to be credible Christians: willing to engage in a screen world to show that we give a damn. Willing to listen because the purpose of social media is relationships and if we are determined to be all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:22) we may need to live uncomfortably in order to connect. Willing, too, to live the one-another life, the gathering-together life (Hebrews 10:25) – the life involving food and hugs and the vulnerability that tone, body language and facial expressions cost us.

And over my dead body will a son of mine ask a girl out over Whatsapp.

So, this mom – kinda overwhelmed – exposed beyond the trenches in the no man’s land of cyberspace – I think about what Corné Bekker told us – how the Greek word that gives us icon meant more than image or picture. It carried the idea of window.

The likeness was a view into the reality.

I pray for me, for you, for our kids – that when people click on the icons of our lives, windows would open with a view to Jesus.

. . .

What freaks you out about social media? Got some wisdom for us? Feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading. I’d love you to share the #5minutes4freedom journey with me on Facebook or twitter. You can also sign up to get these posts by email.

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5 Comments on “Of privacy, porn, influence and eternity”

  1. Mich
    June 9, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Love this! Thanks Dee xxx

  2. Rodney Sloan
    June 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Wow Dee, this is freaking amazing.

    There are some great books out there discussing social media and its impact, but the truth is that it’s a new and evolving space. There’s so much still to come. The best way to ride the wave is to have good life principles to stand on.

    Some things our school (in Japan) suggests to our high school students and parents, for those who might be interested:
    1. Filtering. (set-up on your child’s phone to block certain sites).
    2. Limit use. (The average time spent by teenagers on phones here is over 4 hours!)
    3. Parental monitoring. (Know what your kid is looking at. Know how to check the history of their browser).
    4. Education about the risks.(Knowledge will help your child make safe choices.)
    5. A good anti-virus.

    Also, know how to properly use the site or app, especially its privacy settings. I like the analogy of a kitchen knife: very useful, as long as you know how to use it safely.

    • deereyburn
      June 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks so much Rodney! Yes, awesome advice…! Bottom line is parents have to engage and be intentional… Not good enough just to hope for the best. Thanks again and take care, d

  3. georgiasetzer
    July 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Wow, what a great read. Love your last line. I too will not stop using or avoid Social Media. Not sure if it’s actually possible. But does it make me nervous at times? Sure. So great to read your viewpoint. Thank you for your wisdom, so beautifully written. Georgia x

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