Has Media Become Our National God?
It’s a real possibility. Current statistics of media consumption for families reveal that over 80 hours a week on average is spent online, watching TV or listening to Mp3 players or a combo of all three (State of the Church & Family (c) 2011) / Orange and Barna Group).
What does that say about us?
I believe it says that we’re addicted to entertainment, to stimulation. I know I am, and I’m nowhere near 80 hours a week. It’s a natural migration for my mind and senses to want to be engaged. To avoid silence and stillness, not conciously, but subconsciously.
Why is that?
I’m guessing it’s a mixture of our human nature, technology and opportunity all coming together in a perfect storm. Our nature pulls us towards pleasure above all else. Our technology is so cool, it’s overwhelming to the eyes and ears and senses and comes in waves of even cooler and smaller gadgets. The opportunity is almost endless with access points in our homes, schools and local McDonalds for anyone with a wi-fi capable phone, pad or pod.
Does that make media a bad thing?
Not in my humble opinion. Media is what it is, neutral and unaffected by morality or values… it’s what we do with it that moves it from a non-factor to a huge positive or negative in our lives. It’s no worse than food, money, leisure, relationships or work in that regard. A necessary activity or resource that God has allowed for us to enjoy and use to our benefit.
What is the REAL danger behind it?
I believe the danger from media is its ability to subtly affect our beliefs and undermine our mental stamina. Okay, in English. Sexuality, nudity, violence, trashy talk and greed can become common place in media, subtly removing our resistance to such conduct and replacing our consciences with apathy and indifference. Mental capacity starts to fade as we engage only the consumptive parts of our psyche and allow the deductive and problem solving – creative processes to atrophy and slowly fade. We’re content to allow others or things to do our thinking for us, trusting their reasoning and data over our own (i.e Wikipedia vs. personal experience).
Hard question. Reacting in fear is a problem. Not reacting is a problem. The challenge is to confront the issues without rejecting the medium (media) or the individual teen or tween asking the question. Not responding or ignoring these obvious challenges to our values and beliefs will result in substantial changes in our kids values and principles and patterns of learning, problem solving and living. A risk that I’m NOT willing to take.
If media is out of balance in our lives, it becomes an idol. A mini-god. Just like sex, food, money or careers, this can usurp the role that God alone can play in one’s life or family. Time to take an honest look at the amount of media and entertainment that we’re consuming and then assess how we as, parents, need to filter it.
Slow things down – unplug from time to time. Say NO to your kids, and watch stuff with them. Find out what they are absorbing from their peers, from their heros and from media. Maybe it's time to take the weekend off. Go outside, go fishing, hiking, antique picking, rake the yard, carve a pumpkin, visit a friend, clean the garage, volunteer for a charity, wash your car… do SOMETHING that is physical and interactive, and do it WITH your kids. Be spontaneous, make it fun and balanced. SLOW down your schedule, reduce the dependency on stimulation, and replace it with relationships, talking, walking, reading and writing. Engage your brain and your body.
Oh and don’t forget to model this for your kids BEFORE you ask them to change. Otherwise… we’re in danger of being ignored.