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Techno Drones of the Brave New Digital World

By Jeff Dwiggins

Like the morning fog that settles across San Francisco Bay, the technological haze that permeates our society is clearly palpable during my morning commute to the Pentagon. About 50 human “techno drones” stare into their smart phones and various personal technology devices for nearly the entire 75 minute bus commute, relationally disconnected and seemingly oblivious to their fellow travelers or anything else for that matter. And who can blame them? They have a job to do. And so do I. We are stars of our own personal Truman Show, watching a version of real life unfold before our very eyes while thousands of online marketers, friends, employers, government agencies and total strangers curiously watch our every move.

Of course, each individual Truman Show is just a little bit different. Exactly how are all of us spending our time online? Simon Kemp of Social Media Today notes that the global online population of over two billion users spends 22% of their time social networking, 21% doing searches, 20% reading content, 19% reading emails or communication, 13% on multi-media sites, and 5% doing online shopping.1 Kemp says the average person in the U.S. spends 32 hours per month online including eight hours per month on Facebook alone.2 Based on what I see every day, I think those numbers are extraordinarily low.

Most of the people who sit next to me gravitate primarily between Facebook, email messages, silly YouTube videos, online games and porn – not exactly content that will help you become a better-rounded person, better educated, or more spiritually inclined. In a recent trip to Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, I watched in amazement as a young father, probably in his late twenties, tried in vain to coax the mother into the water for over an hour to play with what was apparently their toddler son. She never budged off her iPhone. So much for paradise. I watch similar events play out at my son’s athletic events with moms and dads who rarely look up from their phones to watch their child play. Is Facebook and email really that important?

The members of Generation Y and Z would probably shrug off my concerns like Cristof did with his critics in the Truman Show: “I’ve given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in is the sick place. Seahaven is the way the world should be.”3 I guess whichever world is “sick” depends on your perspective. For many the real world is becoming increasingly more boring and passé without the necessary scripts and cue cards from all of our favorite marketers and social media sites. Or maybe the social media world is the real world? Hmmm.

Regarding the 18 to 34 year-olds of Generation Y, Kate Freeman observes, Two out of five said they “would feel anxious, like part of me is missing,” if they couldn’t use their smartphones to stay connected. One in four people in Gen Y say they check their smartphones so much throughout the day they lose count.”4 In other words, Gen Y is really distracted. So what about the next generation? Penelope Trunk explains that Generation Z (kids just turning 13) will be able to overcome some of the problems of Gen Y’s passivity and aversion to risk and leadership by being more comfortable with conflict and people, more leadership-oriented and pragmatic, better communicators and more grounded in reality vice fantasy.5 I hope she’s right.

Where does this leave us no matter what our age? Like Truman, must we “accept the reality of the world with which we are presented,”6 or is there any hope of transforming that world before it transforms us into technological zombies craving our next entertainment fix? Musing about the numerous ways we’ve all become exploitable commodities based on our digitally created “social graphs,” author Douglas Rushkoff declares, “In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software.”7 Indeed.

As Christians, I often wonder where we should fall along this complex web of social media interactions and digital networking. Are we using our personal technology tools in a positve way to build, create, relate, play or entertain … or is it the opposite? Do we lean towards one aspect or another? Have we become entertainment junkies? In Matthew 11:16-17 Jesus warned about a lethargic and apathetic generation devoid of spiritual passion: “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament” (NKJV). Sounds like a generation struggling with purpose and identity.

For the record, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with listening to music, playing a game, watching a movie, or checking email. I frequently do those things. It’s good to relax and let off steam within reasonable boundaries. But when it becomes a 24/7 need to entertain ourselves, and we freak out because we haven’t checked our smart phone in the past 5 minutes, something may be out of kilter. So let me end with this poignant question. Just who are you, my friend? Just who am I? Quite simply, we are the stars of this very real production. Now carry on my fellow actors and actresses. The world is watching.

Works Cited

1 Kemp, Simon. How People Spend Their Time Online [infographic]. 9 May 2012. Web. 4 March 2013.

2 Ibid.

3 IMDb. The Truman Show (1998) – Memorable Quotes. 2013. Web. 4 March 2013.

4 Freeman, Kate. Why Smartphone-Obsessed Generation Y Can’t Put Down Their Phones. 12 December 2012. Web. 4 March 2013.

5 Trunk, Penelope. How the next generation will surpass Gen Y. 21 December 2012. Penelope Trunk blog. Web. 4 March 2013.

6 IMDB. Ibid.

7 Rushkoff, Douglas. CNN: Unlike – Why I’m Leaving Facebook. 25 February 2013. Web. 4 March 2013.

Used by permission from Kapok Tree Diplomacy

© Kapok Tree Diplomacy. Mar 2012. All rights reserved. Jeff Dwiggins.

Your comments are welcome!

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.

Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Why Creeds and Confessions? (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 219 pages

Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy

Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.

Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.

Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.

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The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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