I recently watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. This is an eye-opening warning about the dangers of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others. And the interesting thing about this warning is that it comes from those who were instrumental in creating and developing these social media platforms. The men and women who were on the ground floor of making these tools available to the public are now sounding the alarm about the way these platforms are affecting our culture.
The issue that concerns these computer scientists and engineers is that these platforms are designed to manipulate our behavior. The end goal is to capture our attention for longer and longer periods of time so that they can sell more advertising. At the end of the day, it comes down to the all-mighty dollar. But, in their attempts to capture our attention, there have been many unintended consequences. For example, an internal Facebook report from 2018 stated: “64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.” The algorithms are computer generated codes that observe your behavior and generate content that should grab your attention. So, if you are nervous about something like government overreach, and you google a few articles, you will become bombarded with news, mostly fake, that feeds your fears and keeps you glued to your screen for long periods of time. And the thing that was stressed over and over is that there are hundreds of people sitting on the other side of your computer screen whose only job is to figure out how to keep you logged on as long as possible. The warning is that we are outgunned. We are up against hundreds of people whose sole job is to keep you stirred up and online. This alone is worthy of your attention, and I encourage you to watch the documentary if you have time.
However, this also made me think about our spiritual lives. The Bible is very clear that there is an enemy that wants nothing more than to manipulate and destroy your life.
1 Peter tells us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Just like the social media algorithms are sitting on the other side of your screen watching your habits and looking for ways to manipulate your behavior, our enemy, the devil, works much the same way. He watches and observes and sees where you are vulnerable. He catalogues what lies will catch your attention. He bombards you with misinformation so that you begin to doubt God’s truths and His love. The only difference is that Satan is much more powerful than algorithms created by hundreds of computer scientists. We are definitely outgunned in our spiritual battle.
Fortunately, God is gracious and merciful and has given us all the power and the tools we need to stand up to the schemes of the enemy. As Christians we have the truth of God’s Word, we’ve been indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and we have Jesus, Himself, interceding on our behalf. But, we need to realize we can’t do it alone. We were never meant to battle the enemy by ourselves.
We need each other as the body of Christ to continually remind one another of the blessings we have from God. We need each other to spur one another on to biblical faithfulness. We need each other to remind us of truths of God’s Word that build us up and sustain us. We are most vulnerable to the attack of the devil when we are isolated and cut off from our church family. That is why we place so much emphasis on connecting with your church family with faithful church attendance, participation in Foundations classes, and routinely spending time with other believers who can walk with you through this life. Nothing makes you an easy target for the enemy than being disconnected from your church family. Don’t underestimate the importance of showing up. It could make all the difference between living with power and victory or falling victim to the enemy who wants nothing more than to see you miserable and alone.
Find a Bible teaching church and get involved.