Your Media Bubble Is Unscriptural

Who knew that bubbles would be all the rage in public conversation after second grade? I hadn’t really considered bubbles much since learning that most weddings use them instead of rice or birdseed in order to be more environmentally friendly.¬†Of course, though, I’m not talking about the fun, pop-able joy orbs that can make a bad day seem more joyful.

A media bubble is the echo chamber that we create around ourselves to solidify our worldview and make sure that we have the sanity we need to face the day. Before the internet and the million-or-so channels on television, there were only a few ways to get your news and its interpretation: 3 local/national TV stations, 1-2 local newspapers, a national paper (if you bothered), and word of mouth. Most everyone seemed to be working from a similar framework. Now, though, conservatives can go to their corner, liberals can go to theirs, independents can find their place, and so can just about any other label. Today, then, no one is working from a common framework or even a similar worldview. Plurality has divided us to the point of hilarity.

Starting in college, I challenged myself to listen to viewpoints that differed from my own. Why? Because I realized I was missing crucial perspectives and ideas that might help me to better engage with the world and the people around me. Did I agree with all of those new ideas, of course not, and many new ideas I have to run through some serious critical thinking before deciding what to do with them. Here’s my hot-take on the bubble problem: our media bubbles are unscriptural and damaging.

“The time is coming, you see, when people won’t tolerate healthy teaching. Their ears will itch, and they will turn away from listening to the truth and will go after myths instead. But as for you, keep your balance in everything. Put up with suffering; […]; complete the particular task assigned to you.” 2 Timothy 3-5

This verse comes after an exhortation to hold fast to Scripture and the teaching of Jesus and to continue announcing the good news of Jesus’ Kingship at all times. I see our media bubbles, especially as Christians, to be damaging. It would be similar to a doctor deciding to operate on a patient without listening to the patient describe his symptoms. At that point, the doctor would be guessing and might perform the wrong operation on her patient. If we, as followers of Jesus, aren’t listening to those around us, how can we know what needs they actually need met? (As an aside, can I say that adding qualifier to the term “Christian” is about as dangerous as lighting a stick of dynamite and then putting it in one’s pocket?”) Christians who are liberal and those who are conservative need to branch out and listen to the other side. If we do not, we will have no idea how to partner with, show compassion toward, and love those who also claim to follow King Jesus. On top of that, we are disregarding Jesus’ prayer in John when he prayed for unity for His followers, in addition to scratching our own itching ears with the stories we want to hear.

It should go without saying that I am against blind acceptance of anything. Scripture never suggests that we blindly follow anyone. GK Chesterton points out that artistic descriptions of Hebrew prophets and Christian saints almost always show them with eyes wide open – alert and in awe of what they have seen and must say. We should live the same way, with eyes wide, alert, and ready to unleash compassion, justice, and love on the world around us.

What does your media bubble look like? Do you have any voices in your life that challenge you to think? Do you encourage your family by challenging them? To you accept challenges to your thinking when they come, or do you actively avoid them?

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Your Child’s Digital Footprint

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably both amazed and perturbed at the ability of companies to target you with advertisements on Facebook, Google, or Amazon. In some ways, it has proved remarkably helpful, especially when I have to search for odd items occasionally for Children’s Ministry lessons. (So, I’m gonna need haggis, build-your-own gummies, and flash paper. Target doesn’t have those? Huh?)

Anyway, the reason they’re so good at pointing me in the right direction is my digital footprint. In my travels across the far reaches of the internet I have left a digital trail, whether I meant to or not. Phone companies, internet providers, and many websites have data that tracks what I look at and when. If this sounds creepy, it is. But, it’s the world we live in and the world we’ve allowed to be build around us. The amount of effort it would take to change it is greater than we realize, too. (There’s a ton of lobbying money in meta data tracking.) But the key here is that my conscious choices have created this digital crumb trail for me.

But what about your child? Hear me out. I’m not saying that posting pictures of your child is wrong, morally or otherwise. I’m not advocating for less or more of anything, per se, except thought. Consider the idea, if you will, that your child may already have a digital presence without their knowledge. As that child ages, that data will continue to accumulate until when they emerge onto the internet scene, suddenly they realize an environment exists just for them that they had no hand in creating. Advertisements are targeted toward them in an oddly specific way that gives them an uncanny sense that they’ve been here before.

Sounds even creepier than the scenario where they’re tracking you, right? Considering what and how you post pictures and details of your children does impact them later in life. Remember, many, if not most, companies look at social media now as a way to determine whether or not a candidate gets hired. Some children (I’m not saying yours) have had Facebook profiles created for them. That account’s data is now part of the internet. It’s there, and searchable, forever. Remember when we could just completely erase something from history with a shredder or a match? Not so much anymore. Data exists in this massive cloud-web-shared-mind-thingy and erasure isn’t so easy anymore.

TL;DR

Don’t be scared of the internet. Do be aware of what and how you post. Check privacy settings and who can view your account. Be aware of using names and other specific data when posting to social media. This is stuff you’ve heard before, just put into the context of considering your child’s digital presence as well as your own.