Tag Archives: social media

Brain Hacking

brainA recent segment on 60 Minutes detailed the activities of “brain hacking” taking place among computer companies in the designs of their social media platforms and apps.

Programmers have developed algorithms that take advantage of the brain’s desires for pleasure, Responses to status updates from other users are often spaced out over a period of time to drive us to check our devices more. And “likes” are sometimes bunched up together so that our brains feel a greater sense of reward when they are revealed.

Beyond making me somewhat mad at Facebook and the like for playing with our minds like this, the story reminded me that there are many things that have a greater influence over our brains than we realize.

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worthIn a lecture at Concordia Seminary-St. Louis on April 4, 2017 called “Paul, Grace and Liberation from the Human Judgment of Worth,” noted theologian Dr. John Barclay related that our society is currently experiencing a crisis of self-worth. There has a been rise in anxiety, depression, self-doubt and even suicide related to the feeling that we lack worth. Much of this, Barclay said, has to do with the increase in interactions on social media in which there is a great deal of value placed on our posts being “liked,” our pages being “followed,”  etc. We, unfortunately, are living in a more and more judgmental world in which we seek affirmation more and more from our peers.

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church computer

This is how many people “go to church.”

One of the largest challenges facing church today is how to approach the whole concept of what is becoming known in the industry as cyberministy, reaching out to parishioners through websites, blogs, social media outlets, Twitter and the like. It is an area that has at first been met with resistance among church leaders, but the fact of the matter is that most people in this technological age receive information mostly through cyberspace. The days of paper church newsletters are going the way of the do-do, unfortunately, and whether we like it or not, something has to be established within churches to reach out to members electronically.

This can take many forms, of course. Most churches today have at the very least a website people can access to obtain information about worship times and event schedules and to find the contact information of staff members and church workers. This sort of setup is mainly used to serve the needs to already active members and is in some ways simply replacing the hard copy church newsletter.

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Virtual Witness

worldwide webWhen Jesus said to this disciples in the Great Commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations,” little did he know that 2000 years later that would include something called the worldwide web and that the ways we would speak to one another would be through tweets and texts, posts and blogs.

Along with the advances in communication technology, there has been an explosion of ways to witness to others about the Gospel and about our life of faith.

People know more about our day-to-day activities than they ever did 20 years ago because of Facebook and other social media outlets, and that has created more opportunities to voluntarily display what living the Christian life in the world today looks like. And, unfortunately, it can also reveal our sinful nature and the ways in which we have not lived as in line with our calling as Christ’s disciples as we should. Most often these “less than Christian” activities include angry rants and images that often degrade others or ourselves.

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