How Can We Respond to The Social Dilemma?

by Dan Martin

The Social Dilemma is a documentary exploring “the dangerous human impact of social networking with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.”

You don’t have to be a Silicon Valley tech insider or an Ivy League psychology professor to be aware that social media is changing us, and as a result it is changing our world. Some of these changes are incredibly helpful and useful. Many of these changes, however, are leading humanity to be more divided and hopeless than at any other time in human history.

One of the joys of my life is ministering to people and seeing them move deeper into relationship with their Heavenly Father as they are exposed to the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. My objective in writing this article is to see God’s children, the pinnacle of His creation, connect with Him and other followers of Jesus in more meaningful ways. By understanding the impact social media is having on each of us and by making a strategy to limit the negative consequences, I believe we can achieve these deeper and more meaningful connections.

I have to confess as I write these words that I love technology and the advances it has brought to our lives. I use social media, and at times it has created problems for me. So much of what I teach and write about when it comes to stewarding technology has come from my own failures, regrets, and vulnerabilities to the distractions it causes in my life and in my relationships.

The Social Dilemma documentary was truly an eye-opener for me. Not necessarily because it was information about consequences of social media use that I didn’t know, but because of the depth to which the developers have gone (and will continue to go) to further harvest more and more of our personal data and attention.

The amazing thing to me is just how relevant scripture—teachings that are thousands of years old—is when it comes to navigating the problems and vulnerabilities of human beings throughout history (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As I listened and watched the content presented in this documentary my heart was broken for people who don’t have a relationship with God and who probably don’t know that God not only warns us about such things, but He gives us the solutions and grace to address these issues!

Here are some notes from the film alongside biblical wisdom to help us navigate the social media landscape—and at times, landmine:

Our Time and Attention

Social media, by aggressively targeting our time and attention as commodities to be sold to advertisers, has transformed our ability to think for ourselves, interact with our fellow man and increased our vulnerability to manipulation all for the sake of financial gain.

Some helpful biblical wisdom:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” —1 Peter 5:8 

 “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” —Ephesians 5:15-16

Our Perception of Truth

Truth, or better stated, the truth presented to us by news feeds is dependent on factors such as geography, psychology, algorithms and demographic information. In other words, truth varies by user. Left unchecked and unregulated, it will continue to devolve into further falsities and division.

Some helpful biblical wisdom:

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” —John 14:6 

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:32

Intended and Unintended Consequences

Civil unrest, financial and intellectual manipulation, division, disunity, depression, anxiety, suicide and addiction to name a few.

Some helpful biblical wisdom:

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33 

How to Respond

Developers (them) – change the system by changing the financial models. Users (us) – Get out of the system or, at least reduce the impact the system has on us.

Some helpful biblical wisdom:

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.” —2 John 12

Prioritizing face-to-face connection can help us walk in health and freedom. Meditating on God’s Word can equip us to engage on social media in positive, helpful ways. Keep these verses close by as you interact online today!

Take a look at our 5-fold strategy for stewarding technology and navigating our sexualized, digital age.

Read more helpful biblical wisdom in our Bible App reading plan, Parenting in a Sexualized, Digital Age.

Or check out our full parenting series, Quest: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture.

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