You Cannot Escape the Influence of the Social Internet | Chris Martin

Bart Blair Leave a Comment

Chris, well versed on the social internet, shares what influenced him to write his new book Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media

Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Chris-Martin-Book.mp4
Also, it. All right. Here we go.

Hey, Chris Martin, thanks so much for joining Jason and me on the show today.

Hey, thanks for having me, guys, it’s great to be back. I’ve enjoyed being with you before, and I’m glad to be back here again.

Yeah, Chris, you hold the honor of being the first guest on our podcast to make a third appearance. And you know, we have very, very good reason to have you back on the show today. We’ve introduced you the last couple of times with different job titles, today, we’re introducing you as the author of a brand new, hot off the presses book, called Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media. And we’re going to get into the conversation about the book in just a minute, but why don’t you, for our listeners who maybe missed the last great episodes that you were on, just give us a quick flyby on your background and what you do when you’re not writing great books.

Yeah. So I currently work at Moody Publishers as Content Marketing Editor, which means I kind of have a foot in the editorial space and a foot in the marketing space, so I get to help edit some of our books for theology and other various topics. I’m not a copy editor, I’m not editing for punctuation and typos. I can catch some of those, but I’m not the right guy for that job. So because I have an M.Div., I do some theological editing of books and things like that. And then also, I help with some marketing efforts, specifically, at the top level, the very content marketing level of things. So I’m not trying to sell books per se, but just trying to get the word out about both Moody Publishers and some of our books.

So actually, around November of 2021, we launched a new website at Moody Publishers called BibletoLife.com, and the whole purpose of BibleToLife.com is us, at Moody Publishers, saying, hey, what if we took some of the content from these 60 plus books we publish every year and chopped it up and made it available to people who are searching the internet for all kinds of questions and answers about what it means to follow Christ, whether they’re believers, pastors even, or people who are seekers and don’t know Christ, but are looking for spiritual matters on the internet. What if we, you know people who had never read a 200-page paperback book, what if we took some of these chapters, some of these sections of content that are really helpful, chopped them up, and put them online for people to be served by there? And so it’s really fun for my day job to get to steward book content on the internet in a way that, as you guys know and as I’m sure will be revealed throughout this discussion, really aligns with my personal interests when I’m not working my day job. So I love that my day job, you know not that there’s anything wrong with punching numbers or doing code or something like that, that’s all good, but I’m just glad that I get to spend my days reading through really great books and figuring out how can I take these three pages and create a cool article that would help people as they’re searching for why does God allow people to suffer, or do you have to be baptized to get to heaven? You know, I get to create online content around stuff that people are searching for and maybe not asking their pastors about as much as they’re asking Google about. So that’s what I do for a day job.

I spent seven years at Lifeway Christian Resources in a number of digital content roles, three or four over my seven years there, my final job there was running their social media operation. So we had roughly 270 social media accounts, many of those were associated with our bookstores, which we were closing at the time and so I was kind of heading up the operation of trying to get some of those corralled, and then I ran the @Lifeway handles and such. So I have a lot of experience running a social operation, and a lot of experience also in just doing online content. So as you guys know and as we’ll talk about, I’m also interested beyond strategy, I love the strategy, but we’ve talked strategy a lot here, but I’m really interested also in this sort of philosophical underpinnings of like, what is this stuff doing to us, for good and for bad? And much of what the book explores, that we’ll talk about is, maybe some of the bad stuff that we either simply don’t know about or that we like to ignore because it’s a little scary sometimes.

Well, thanks for that background, Chris. One of the things that I do want to kind of highlight, is the fact that in your time at Lifeway, and currently certainly in your current role, you have had to use social media as a professional tool. And so you’ve had to learn how it works, how to leverage it to gain an audience, to build an audience, and then to move an audience towards action, right, that’s the ultimate goal. And Jason and I, for the sake of full disclosure, you know, we work for a marketing company that wants to do the same thing, we want to help churches leverage social media and other digital tools for the sake of gaining an audience, building an audience, and moving people toward something. Now, churches aren’t trying to sell something, we’re trying to move people towards a relationship with Jesus. But, you know, ultimately the underlying patterns are very, very similar.

Now, you just recently released this book, it’s hot off the presses, we’ll share with our audience at the end of the episode, how they can get their hands on a copy of it if they’re intrigued by the topic of our conversation today. But one of the things that I first started thinking about when you were telling me about the book, was the first thing I started thinking about was that movie that came out on Netflix a year or two ago, The Social Dilemma, right? I don’t know many people, in fact, I remember Jason in one of our team meetings telling our entire staff, you all need to go watch The Social Dilemma. And so I was thinking to myself, well, I wonder if Chris is just kind of rehashing The Social Dilemma in book form, from a Christian perspective, maybe? You are a follower of Jesus, and I will say this, the book is not a Christian book. At the same time, you do not hide at all the fact that you are a person of faith and you give a few little nudges and indications along the way about how followers of Jesus ought to respond in the context of social media and the social internet.

But one of the things I wanted to do, Jason, I was thinking when I first started reading the book, I started thinking about the internet and when the internet came into my life. I want to ask you that question, do you remember your first experiences online? Do you remember what getting on the internet first looked like for you when you did?

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean I had just gotten married and moved to Arizona, and we ordered that dial-up thing, right? And so I remember doing that and thought this is pretty cool. And I remember thinking, how do you build a website, right? And then about those days, I started on staff at a church and we built our first church website and it was horrible, it was so bad. But yeah, I remember those days very clearly. And it’s like, you know, you guys kind of have grown up with high-speed internet access, like there was not such a thing, and so we, actually, I remember getting in a second telephone line just for the internet. I don’t know if you know, but this is like a real deal, because like if you’re online, you’re consuming the telephone line, come on. I remember getting that second line and having that come in and my wife’s like, what are you doing? Like, I think we need this because we want to be online. She’s like, why? But those days are, I remember those days perfectly. That was before kids, too, so, yeah. How about you, Bart?

Well, I tell you, as I started reading Chris’s book, I started having flashbacks to the first time I got on the internet, and I can still remember being at my parents’ house and they bought a home computer and they knew nothing about home computers. I have no idea, this would have been ’94 or ’95, and I still remember pulling the computer out, setting it up. It came packaged with an AOL disc in it, and I loaded up the disc and I can still remember the adrenaline rush that I got the first time I connected to the internet and went, whoa, it was like opening a door to a whole new world, right? It was like, you know, I don’t even remember what I did, but I still remember the emotional feeling that I had when I actually got on the internet and realized I can actually chat with people and talk to people and have email, and it was a very, very formidable experience. I was in my mid-twenties, and I just remember the adrenaline when those little air sounds started clicking on the dial-up phone, and it was pretty cool. I was one of those people too that, Chris mentioned this in the book, that AOL, they were smart, they were like mailing everyone discs, right? The first social media network was built because they were mailing discs to everyone in the world. And I remember keeping the discs because I kept thinking, well, I might need it someday, and I’d have this collection of AOL discs coming in the mail like once a month.

I wish I would have kept those, they’re probably worth some money just for, you know…

Seriously.

You could decorate a wall in your office with them or something, you know, flip them upside down and have some shiny walls, but I don’t know that there’s any value in those. But that was my first internet experience.

So, Chris, why this topic? Why this book? What made you realize you need to sit down to write this because you feel like there’s a need out there that people need to hear this? And who’s the intended audience with this book?

Yeah. First, let’s start with the intended audience. So as Bart acknowledged, and I’m glad he kind of caught it, we did not talk about this in the pre-show, though we did have a nice pre-show discussion, I should say. We didn’t talk about it, but as I was writing it, I read so many of the most well-versed and knowledgeable people that I read on matters of the social internet, and social media, and our relationship with it, are not believers, and I wanted to write a book similar to many of the books I had read, but with a Christian worldview attached to it. I was not interested in writing like a theology of social media if you will. And I wanted to write a book that, though, was from a Christian worldview, did not feel like you needed to share my worldview to be helped by the book if you will. There are a lot of really helpful Christian books out there, both on technology and otherwise, that if you aren’t a Christian, like, if you don’t share the base worldview, it’s just simply not going to be helpful. I wanted this book to be helpful for Christians and non-Christians alike, so my worldview comes through because who can really divorce their worldview from something like this? But my hope is, is that somebody could pick up this book and feel helped by it, regardless of what their faith or philosophical backgrounds are. And so I’m really glad that Bart kind of picked up on that because that was intentional on my part, which is just tricky because, you know, could I sell more books if I made it like, you know, exclusively Christian? Maybe, but I just wanted it to be kind of a missional project in that way. And so the audience is really anybody who uses social media, which is just about all of us at this point, at least anyone listening to this podcast, surely. And so really, it’s anybody who uses social media, in fact, I mean, probably even people who don’t use social media. My grandmother, who I mentioned in the book, will probably read this book, and only about 20 percent of it will make sense. I told her on the phone the other day, I told her, I said, Grandma, if you want to read the book, that’s great, I said it probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you, because she’s never used the internet period, let alone social media. And I said to her, I said it probably won’t make a whole lot of sense, but I said if it gets confusing, any time you see a social media term like Facebook, like she knows what they are, I said just substitute TV, and it might kind of make sense to you, because, you know, she grew up when TV was really booming. And just like Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, a lot of what he says about TV applies to social media, I think a lot of what I say about social media could still apply to TV. So anyway, the book is written for anybody who uses social media and kind of sees how it’s impacting all of our lives.

The reason I wanted to write on it is because the more and more I use social media professionally, and was doing a lot of strategy, and really using it in a sort of, I guess you could say, like high octane way. As my, you know I was on social media eight hours a day for my job, and then also like to use it for personal use too, to watch YouTube videos I thought were good or informative, or like I’m a video game guy, so I like watching streamers on Twitch play video games and stuff like that. And so I started, when I was working actually in that final role at Lifeway when I was running social media, I started asking questions like how is this affecting us in ways we maybe don’t realize? I read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, and I realized that, wow, this book he wrote in 1985 is a whole lot more relevant today than most books written in 1985, or probably would be, on topics like technology and media. And it’s like I thought to myself, I said, what if…My first thought was, man, I wish Neil Postman was still around today because I’d love to hear what he thinks about where we’re at. And he died in 2005, I believe, or ’03, and so you can actually find a few lectures where he talks about the information superhighway because when he was giving the lectures, that’s what it was still called, that’s what it was still commonly called in conversation. And so we do have a few of his thoughts, but I was like, what if Neil Postman was alive today, and he could talk about social media and he was a Christian, I said, I think we would really benefit from reading somebody like that. And I couldn’t really find many if any, people who were writing like that, so I was like, well, I think I would like to try to be that for people because I would benefit from the research that comes from doing all of that, and I think others could maybe benefit from having a voice like that today.

So that’s when I set out on reading a lot of books around this topic, and really starting to ask deeper questions like, how is this affecting us in ways we don’t realize? And I’ve said this in conversation with you guys, and on other podcasts I’ve done for this book, the book is not anti-social media. Now, it’s quite negative, and if you look at the cover, it’s a bunch of smiley faces making up a frowny face. So it looks like it may be quite a depressing book, but I think the reason the book feels a bit negative is because I think we’re all pretty aware of the good of social media, like we all use it, those of us who are listening to this podcast, we all use it to some extent. I think we all like know some of the value, connecting with friends and family, being entertained, there’s nothing wrong with that, being informed or learning. And so I think we all see the good of social media in some respect, if I wrote a book about here’s why social media is awesome. People would be like, well, you don’t need to tell me, like, I know. You know, I know why I like it.

But I do think there are a lot of things that we give up when we use social media, I think it may be affecting us in some ways we just don’t realize. And so because of that, I wanted to write a book that’s just kind of a cautionary, hey, let’s not use this stuff passively, let’s use this stuff intentionally and recognize that, because it’s kind of bent toward sin and destruction, we need to make some concerted effort to not let it suck us into using it for self-promotion or outright sin in other ways, getting angry with people and fighting. And so the whole book, the whole premise, is kind of these tools were made to serve us, and my fear is we’ve really come to serve these tools, and what can we do to make that not the case? So that’s kind of the impetus.

Yeah. You know, so for our audience, I watched The Social Dilemma. You probably have, if you haven’t, check it out. And I told my team, you’ve got to go watch this. I’m going to say the same thing about your book because reading it, I’m going, OK, this is good stuff. But here’s my question for you, because through that lens of most people that listen to this podcast work in the church. First of all, people, you want to read this because you want to be equipped and you want knowledge. It’s like the Bible, you should be reading your Bible, you know, it’s like a good thing to do, you should read this book. But I’m curious from your perspective, Chris, how does somebody who reads this book who works at a church, how can they use that in their ministry? What advice would you give somebody that’s, you know, thinking about, OK, if I buy this book and read this book, I’ll use it personally, great, but how can I use it in my church?

Yeah, sure. I think I have a thought on that, on how it can be best used. But first, I want to mention The Social dilemma, we’ve talked about it a couple of times. I remember when I watched that, I think it was like fall, like Labor Day 2020ish, at least when I watched it, I forget when it came out, but that’s roughly when I watched it. And I remember I was finishing the manuscript for Terms of Service when I watched it, like I was in the last chapter. And I was like, they made a movie for my book already. Like, I don’t need to write the book, everybody…

Well, this was a waste of time.

Everybody is going to feel like I just watched The Social Dilemma, and wrote a book version. Because literally like five or six of the people that they interview are the most commonly cited people in this book, but I had already done it. And I was like, the whole time, I don’t know if you guys have ever seen the Leonardo DiCaprio meme where he’s like, sitting, I think it’s from Wolf of Wall Street or something like that, where he’s like sitting in front of a TV and he’s like pointing at the TV like he recognizes someone? I’m like watching The Social Dilemma with my wife, and I’m like, I’m like, I know that person, I know that book, I’ve read that. I’d never heard them talk before, but I had read their books and I was like, oh, I know that person, they’re real. So anyway, that was just kind of a funny experience I had.

So, yeah, how is this helpful for churches? Or like, how might a pastor or church leader who’s listening find this like as an actual resource? I mean, I would, I wish, and maybe if it sells well enough, we could do this, I’d love for there to be a sort of study resource affiliated with this because I think it could be helpful you know just to create a sort of workbook of sorts. But how I would use it, and perhaps I will at some point, how I would use it is in a small group setting, perhaps even a Sunday school setting. Assign the book to everyone to read, and perhaps you meet weekly as a small group. Like my community group, I lead a community group, we meet weekly. Or if you have a Sunday school class that meets weekly, assign a chapter a week, you read the chapter for homework, you come back, maybe two chapters because some of them are quite short. You read the chapter during the week and, you know, as the leader, because I did not create any discussion questions because it simply wasn’t in our heads as we were creating the manuscript, you could create some discussion questions yourself as the leader of your small group or Sunday school class, and come back every Sunday morning or at your community group on Tuesday nights or something like that, and discuss what you read. Because I think that a book like this truly is best read in community with other people because you can learn from their reflections on it, everybody has a different experience with social media, that’s part of what kind of makes it cool and unique. And so I think this frankly does make a good book club book, and I don’t say that because that would sell more books per se, I suppose everybody could read it on their own, but I think it is a book and a topic that merits discussion and hearing from other people and hearing from other people’s experiences.

And I think, also, that would be a good application of one of the principles of a later chapter about building community with people and establishing accountability. I think establishing accountability for social media use, meaning, just having a friend who can call you out if you’re acting a fool in the Facebook comment section or something like that. I think you could, even if you’re discussing Terms of Service in a group with people, a small group or otherwise, that could kind of become your group of accountability friends who have permission to call you out if they see you acting foolish, you know? So that’s how, if I were in that situation, that’s probably the best way that I would use it.

I mean, our family doesn’t really use social media at all. Is LinkedIn social media? That’s probably the only thing I’m on. Right, my kids don’t use it, my wife doesn’t use it, but social media, it’s still it’s like oxygen, it’s not going away. you know, it’s not oxygen, you don’t need it to stay alive, but it’s not going away. And so yet, that’s why I think it’s so important for churches in particular that you should really, you need to address this. And no doubt some churches that we just talked about, have literally gone to the extreme to say, we’re not even going to have social media, we’re going to take it out of our…Yeah, but really, your congregation isn’t, they’re still being bombarded, they’re still using it, so why don’t you address it, I guess that’s my point. And I really, I like your approach there just to have it like kind of a small group setting.

As a pastor myself, what I’ve realized is that even though I don’t want to necessarily be discipled by social media and the social internet, the people that I am shepherding are being discipled by those things. And I can bury my head in the sand and say, social media is bad, I’m not going to play with it, I’m not going to use it, or I can really try to tune in to know and to understand the sociological impacts of social media so that I can better shepherd and lead the people that God has called me to lead as a pastor. And I think that’s, you know, I think one of the things that you cite early in the book, Chris, is that you know, you can get off of social media, you can delete all the apps off of your phone, you can cancel all of your accounts, but you can’t get away from the fact that social media is still shaping our culture, it’s shaping our world, it will shape the next political election regardless of what Facebook and Twitter try to do or claim they’re doing so that it won’t, it will. And so, you know, I think it’s just like anything, the Apostle Paul says, all things are permissible, but I want to make sure that I’m in control of things, things can’t control me. Right, I need to be in control of these things, and I think that there’s a danger of social media reshaping how we behave.

One of the things, again, I want to highlight, that you wrote in the book is the fact that you pinpoint the fact that social media is a place where people seem to be shaping their self-identity, their self-worth, their self-value. And we expect the world to go to worldly places to do that, but as followers of Jesus, our identity is first as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, as redeemed children, as co-heirs of Jesus Christ, that’s our identity. And we need to be very, very cautious and set up really clear boundaries for ourselves that we don’t lose touch with that identity by what we get wrapped up in on TikTok, or Instagram Reels, or whatever it is that’s getting us the likes and the dopamine hits that we tend to keep going back for. So I’ll get off my soapbox now, and let Chris talk some more. Anything you want to comment on there, Chris?

Yeah, no, I agree, I think that’s all right. One of the, I was trying to find the exact quote as you were talking there in the manuscript, one of the best quotes that I’ve heard on social media in the last couple of years, and it’s from Bo Burnham, who’s a comedian. And I can’t, I’ve joked about this a couple of times, I can’t officially recommend his comedy specials because they’re quite vulgar, so know that I can’t officially recommend them, but he’s one of the most incisive and insightful observers of modern culture around. And he’s a comedian that, frankly, ironically became very popular on YouTube when YouTube first started. He and I are about the same age, so he’s roughly thirty-one, and so he was creating YouTube videos back in like 07, like when YouTube was first getting started. And that’s how he became, they were like comedy songs, also quite vulgar.

But then he became, he’s been a director, a stand-up comedian, and a writer for programs. And he created the movie Eighth Grade, which kind of depicts the modern eighth-grade experience. A small note on that, that movie is very profound and a fascinating and very accurate look into what it’s like to be an eighth-grader in our modern times, like with the social internet and things like that. And he narratively, because it’s not a documentary like it’s a movie, he depicts very accurately what it’s like to be a middle schooler with social media in your pocket all the time. And all the actors who are the eighth-graders in the movie are actually eighth-graders. And oh, what’s ironic about that movie, it’s very good, I think you can stream it wherever you want to stream stuff, what’s ironic about that movie is it’s rated R, and so an eighth-grader theoretically could not go view a movie that I think pretty accurately depicts the eighth-grade experience, right? Isn’t that kind of funny? Like the eighth, the eighth-grade experience in 2022 is quite rated R, frankly. But anyway, so he says, as he created a Netflix special during the pandemic, it’s called, Inside, and he says during that Netflix special, he says the non-digital world is merely a theatrical space in which one stages and records content for the much more real, much more vital, digital space. And one of my greatest concerns, and this Netflix special did not come out before I wrote this book, but that really captures one of my biggest concerns in my writing of this book is that many of us have started to live our lives as though the online experience is our primary form of existence, and our offline experience, our offline lives, are downstream of what happens on the internet. Because it used to be, you guys are old enough to remember, as we’ve described, our first experiences with the internet. Mine was when I was in the first grade, logging on to AOL Instant Messenger. And you know, we all have our own first experiences, but we’ve all been around long enough to remember those early times, it used to be that the internet was a sort of reflection of what happened offline. Like, there wasn’t a whole lot of culture being created on the internet, it was kind of a reflection of popular culture offline. Today, we all know that plenty of culture is created on the internet and that the water flows the opposite way, there’s a lot of culture that’s created online that then flows downstream to our offline existence. If you doubt this, just ask yourself how many times you’ve heard your local or world news program of choice cover what a politician does on social media in the last five years, right? Like, you want to talk about culture streaming downstream to offline life? I mean, that’s a perfect example. And so one of my biggest concerns is that we start to view our offline lives here, the real embodied space, as a means, sort of a mine, to farm content for who we want to create ourselves to be on the internet. And so that’s a big concern of mine, and kind of a trend.

I mean, just look how many people like vacation to places just for the content, like there are people who will go to national parks and be more obsessed with getting the content than actually enjoying the scenery for itself? Or like, how many weddings have you been to in the last two or three years that didn’t have an Instagram hashtag attached to them? There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just saying that like a lot of our offline experiences are being formed to be consumed as content, and I think that could, in some ways already has, but could become a problem down the road, and so I think that’s something we should be aware of. And again, not to say that all social media is bad, never use social media, but it’s more of just like an awareness, like be present, enjoy your offline life. Because if you start to live for the internet, I mean, we all know how that could start to go sideways pretty quickly.

Yeah, yeah, it’s like the wedding thing made so much sense to me because I have been to weddings that were basically designed to be an online experience, right? The wedding wasn’t primarily for the people who were there in person, the wedding was set up and designed so that it could be Instagrammed really, really well, and get lots of likes and lots of shares and lots of comments, and that’s a very, very interesting…Dude, that’s pretty crazy stuff.

Yeah. There’s a marriage happening after that, you know, you might want to invest in it.

Right, right, yeah. I wonder how many photo booths there were at weddings before, like, 2012? Where there as many? I don’t know.

I don’t know, that’s a good question.

That’s about when I started to go to weddings. But photo booths are, you’ve got to do it for the ‘Gram man, you’ve got to do it for the ‘Gram, as they say,

Ours was, you know, the little portable like, you know, you had to line it up and take a picture. We had a bunch of those laying around.

Was that your favor? Yeah.

Yeah, you get the disposable cameras that would go on all the tables.

Yeah.

Those are coming back in fashion, so as the tides are starting to shift, more people are doing that again. First of all, there are more physical cameras being sold than there have been in recent years. And I think, I might be speaking out of turn, my brother’s wedding is actually later this spring, I think they’re putting those at all the tables.

Oh, really?

Again, yeah, to create a sort of like physical memento and that sort of thing. So anyway, it’s funny that you say that.

Be careful because you only get like 20 clicks, so you can’t just keep…

Right, right, right.

Yeah, it’s not like your phone where you just upload it to the cloud, so you clear more space off your phone.

Train those people.

Guys, I’m not that young, like I remember.

Well, you are, I have a stepdaughter that’s the same age as you, so, yeah, I’m feeling old right now. Hey, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite quotes. I’ve highlighted a bunch of stuff, and I’m going to share it online, I’m going to share it on my social media accounts. You know, I shared before we started recording, that I use social media as a way of really trying to share the hope that I have in Jesus. I don’t scroll a lot on social media, and some of these have been recent changes I’ve made in my own personal social media habits. So I share, and you know my older son just graduated from Army Boot Camp, and we took photos, and it was a shareable experience for us, and a lot of friends and family from around the world wanted to see what was going on. And so we shared some Instagram and some Facebook photos of that experience, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time scrolling.

But one of the things that you said, wrote in the book, that kind of made me pause and start thinking not just about the social media implications, but I think the implications as a whole in our culture today. This was the quote, I’m pretty sure this was you and not you quoting someone else, “Many of us are addicted to the social internet because we are addicted to attention and affirmation.” Actually, I can confirm that with you, because you’re the only person in the book that uses the term social internet, so it was you. Chris Martin said this, “Many of us are addicted to the social internet because we are addicted to attention and affirmation.”. And I think when I read that, what I realized is that that is not a new phenomenon, that is something I think that is as old as man has existed on this planet. But what social media and the internet has done, is it’s amplified it, it’s given us a different place and a different mechanism out of which to seek that attention and that affirmation, and maybe that’s the piece that’s kind of gotten out of control

And warped it, I think it’s also warped people’s, young people’s, as they’ve grown up, their identity. And I have seen, personally, families that have had kids that have gone down a path they would never have gone down if they didn’t have this phone in their hand and they were glued to it, consuming the things that social media was giving to them. And so, what’s your response to that? I mean, I know you talked about that, so that quote, give us some background and your thoughts.

Yeah, I mean, it’s like you said, Bart, wanting attention, wanting affirmation is nothing new, but wanting something and having access to it are different things, and how we access what we desperately want matters. So I think, take like, this isn’t like one to one example because they’re quite different, but take like alcohol as an example. For somebody who wants alcohol but doesn’t have it on their person at all times, there are some hoops and obstacles you have to go through to actually consume alcohol. You have to go to your local liquor store or grocery store to purchase the kind of alcohol you want, you need to be of a certain age, you need to be able to get there and get home, there are some steps that it takes to access what you want and then consume what it is that you want, alcohol being the example here. And in the same way, the kind of parallel here, alcohol, regardless, taking sin or morality out of it because there are different perspectives on what it is and is not permissible as far as what scripture says, but from a non-Christian, just kind of human perspective, alcohol in moderation is acceptable culturally. Alcohol in excess amounts is drunkenness, and can lead to all kinds of issues, and even is illegal if you go try and drive somewhere, right? And so, that is something that you can want, but if you have limited access to, it’s harder for it to become a problem. Now, if you gave everyone access to alcohol 24/7 in their pocket, if you could just magically make alcohol appear into their pocket at any time, I think it’s fair to say you may have a little bit more common problem with alcoholism, right? Because there are fewer obstacles to be able to access alcohol, you don’t have to go to the grocery store, you don’t have to be 21, you don’t have to spend money for it. In the same way, we can be addicted to attention and affirmation, we can want attention and affirmation. But if you drop something into our pockets, this magic box with a screen on it, where we can access it at all times, 24/7 with no restraint, age-wise or whatever else, the cost is very cheap once you buy the phone, in fact, it’s free on these social media platforms, you’re more likely to engage in that addiction and that lust for attention and affirmation then if you had to go to a social function. You know, pre-social media, you had to like actually go to a social function, or go talk to your neighbors, if you’re looking for affirmation and attention, it was a lot harder to get it, whereas right now you can just pull it out of your pocket and do whatever it is you need to do to get attention and affirmation. Does that make sense? So I think that the sort of insertion of it into our pockets, and the accessibility of it 24/7, takes our addiction to it to a whole nother level.

Which will cause all kinds of destruction, marriages, parenting, and the family unit.

Let me add one note here, and I say this, I don’t know if I say it in the book quite like this or not, I think I do. There’s nothing wrong with, like, wanting to connect with people online, or even like wanting to get attention or affirmation, like affirmation is a good thing to want. But I think what makes affirmation and attention on the internet so appealing, versus like community and like real offline existence is when you search out feelings of love and affirmation and attention online, we all want that and on the internet, you can get it at a very low cost. I think all of us want to feel loved and affirmed, but a lot of us are really afraid of being deeply and truly known.

Tim Keller talks about this a little bit in The Meaning of Marriage, his book on marriage, that a lot of couples these days read for premarital counseling. He talks about this in regard to marriage, but I think it applies to our relationship with social media as well, the social internet and our relationship with social media provides us with the ability to feel feelings of love and affirmation because of the way people give us attention, and it allows us to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable and the vulnerability that comes with intimacy. We want to feel love, but a lot of us are really afraid of being truly known. And when you’re in offline communities, say, in a church small group, or even just going to Sunday church services, the opportunity for intimacy and being truly known is much more prevalent. And you’re more likely to get into a deeper relationship with the people in your offline in-body community than you are with people who follow you on Twitter or you’re connected with on LinkedIn. And so I think what social media does for us is, it gives us this sort of feeling of being loved without the fear of being known. And I think that over time, it gets to what you said, Jason, it gets to a serious place of unhealth where we’re constantly chasing this feeling of affirmation and we’re never willing to open ourselves up to people because we’re afraid of the vulnerability that comes with that.

And we didn’t know we got there.

Yep.

Yeah, it creeps, right, it just kind of, you creep into it. Nobody plans their way into destructive behavior, right, you creep into it. And a lot of times, especially in the case of, I think, things that have become cultural norms, like the use of social media and the way that it’s used, is that we just kind of get swept up in the flow of culture in that push in that tide, and the next thing we know, we’re neck-deep in it, or maybe over our heads in it, and it’s really difficult to get out of.

Chris, this has been a phenomenal conversation. I’m really, I told you before we started recording that I think the book is not just content-rich, but it’s very well written. And I just appreciate you offering to hang out with Jason and me again. You said, hey, I’ll come back on the show again. And I said we’ll have you on the show again? And you said, well, I’m writing a book, do you want to do that? Absolutely. We really appreciate you giving of your time, we hope that those who are our friends and our listeners and our audience will, we hope they’ll buy the book. We hope that it will become a resource tool that churches, that followers of Jesus, will use, as much as anything, to just have a greater awareness of how social media is impacting their lives, whether they’re actively using it or they’re just watching the world around them use it. Can you tell our friends where they can get the book?

Sure, you can get it, I think generally, wherever you like to buy books. You can get it on Amazon, obviously, there is a Kindle edition, there’s an Audible edition, that I think Jason can attest is quite well done. I am not the reader of it, so I’m not pumping myself up here, but I listened to it and I thought the reader was pretty good, so there’s an Audible edition if that’s how you’d like to do books. I used to, small aside, I used to love to do audible books when I was commuting every day, but now I have like ten on my virtual, audible shelf that I haven’t really been able to read because I’m never commuting or anything. So anyway, Audible, Kindle, Amazon, and then Barnes and Noble, if you’re old school like that, or it’s on Lifeway.com because B&H of Lifeway published it, Christiabook.com, so honestly, if I were you, go wherever you can get the best price because it doesn’t matter to me.

Yeah, I actually think that on the B&H page, they link to all the different places that you can purchase it. So we will link the B&H link in our show notes, and on our YouTube channel so that if people want to check that out, they can. Chris Martin, once again, we’re really grateful for you joining us on the show today, and we just wish you all the best with this book. We hope that it is the first of many to come.

Thank you so much, guys, I love joining you, it’s really fun. And I know we usually talk strategy, so it’s fun to talk a little something different this time, and hopefully, I’ll get to be the first person ever to be on four times sometime in the future, that’d be fun.

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