“My way or the High way?”
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 2 (The Message)
In the 20th century, pop singer Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way”, hit the “Top 100” six times, holding the record for the longest stay on the charts. Interestingly, the lyrics were written by the legendary and beloved Paul Anka, who wrote the lyrics for over 900 songs. They fit with the independent thinking of the American culture. In fact, many identify with the lyrics of this song and proudly sing along when they hear it. Some call it a kind of “national anthem”. But what if we are being sold a bill of goods by the culture?
Maybe the ultimate in life is not independence, but adherence to a greater purpose. The documentary, “The Social Dilemma”, available on Netflix and IMDbTV, is eye-opening, bothersome, and definitely essential for every family to watch. It turns out that the current population, truly addicted to cell phones and other electronic devices, is being manipulated to think, act, and respond to messages that are intentionally selected to stimulate us and direct our choices. We believe we are merely staying in touch and need to use texts, social media, and email just to communicate. The reality is that we have a positive psychological response to the number of “likes” and the immediacy of the texts we receive.
“Pew Research Center reports that 81 percent of Americans now own smartphones — up from just 35 percent in 2011… Because so many people use their phones as tools of social interaction, they become accustomed to constantly checking them for that hit of dopamine that’s released when they connect with others on social media or some other app.” (www.healthline.com)
There is even new vocabulary that focuses on cell phone use:
• “nomophobia: the fear of going without your phone”
• “textaphrenia: the fear that you can’t send or receive texts”
• “phantom vibrations: the feeling that your phone is alerting you when it really isn’t” (www.healthline.com)
God’s Word is sometimes called “Life’s Instruction Book”. Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV) states: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Flesh is another term for self-centeredness, caring only about one’s self.
We are called upon as Christ-followers to care about others. In fact, Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” His response was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to do it our way. We are urged… no, commanded… to do it God’s way.
So, the choice each day becomes: do we do it “my way or the High way?”
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Parents, take time to locate and watch “The Social Dilemma”. If there are teens in the home, watch this documentary together and discuss the consequences of the big tech companies manipulating our choices and responses.
• Have a discussion about the benefits and potential problems related to cell phone and device use.
• Discuss appropriate cell phone and device use with everyone in the family.
• Make a family plan together regarding how to limit cell phone and device use (including all screens).
• Locate the lyrics of “My Way”. Share and discuss them with teens. Ask, “What do you think Paul Anka was saying?”
• Share Matthew 22:36-4 (NIV). Ask, “How do we follow God’s greatest commandments in our daily lives?”
• Ask, “What changes would make us more aligned with Jesus’ answer?”
Share this blog and the suggested discussion items with the youth group at your church.
Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
#MediaSavvyKids, #ChristianParenting, #ChurchAndCulture, #YouthPastors, #YouthGroupCurriculum, #HelpForChristianParents, #MyWayOrTheHighWay?
© Sue Summers 2020