Shape my vision by your fixed precepts, and tutor me, Holy Spirit, that I might learn to discern the difference between those stories that are whole, echoing the greater narrative of your redemption, and those that are bent or broken, failing to trace accurately the patterns of your eternal thoughts and so failing to name rightly the true condition of humanity and of all creation. Grant me wisdom to divide rightly, to separate form from content, craft from narrative, and meaning from emotion.

Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy

To What Extent Is Our Culture Influencing Us?

It is difficult to measure the extent to which our culture has shaped our beliefs and worldview. The cultural and moral landscape of our world has always been an influential force, but never to the extent that it does today and never quite at the same speed. 

Notifications, algorithms, and social media platforms all serve to this end- news and events from around the world can reach your fingertips in a matter of seconds. The faster the culture changes, the more drastically your worldview could shift towards secularism and moral-degradation if it’s not already solidified- and even then, it is better not to tempt our flesh.

As author Douglas Murray points out in his book, The Madness of Crowds,

A handful of businesses in Silicon Valley (notably Google, Twitter, and Facebook) now have the power not just to direct what most people in the world know, think and say, but have a business model which has accurately been described as relying on finding ‘customers ready to pay to modify someone else’s behaviour.’

Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds

Personal Biases

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of social media is that it further perpetuates personal biases, thus feeding our gluttonous ego-centric selves with our “preferred” narrative… Ultimately, leading to further division and animosity.

YOU are the algorithms’ god, the algorithm gives you more of what YOU “like” and YOU “follow,” but it cannot discern truth and it will not give you an accurate picture of reality.

Algorithms quite literally recommend and show you news and information which the algorithms perceive you’ll like/agree with, which it determines based upon posts you’ve commented on or “liked”, pages and people you’ve followed, and more.

Social Media platforms are more than happy to be your personal caretaker- protecting you from micro-aggressions, being triggered, and catering to you what supports your presuppositions. However, it will come at the cost of living in a bubble of personal bias. 

Morally, this has severe implications. This incentivises an anti-truth environment, which for the Christian, is of the utmost severity since we are called to live and walk in truth (2 John 4; 3 John 3-4).

The Culture’s Influence

If I’m on social media more than I’m reading the Word and praying, then my thoughts and spiritual life are at risk of being (subconsciously) more greatly influenced by the culture and other people rather than by God. 

I am also very possibly limiting my ability to see and recognize the workings of God’s will in my life when my mind is regularly being bombarded with hard-to-decipher/incomplete soundbytes, clips, memes, and thoughts posted in haste.

While God can use these things to bring about His will, it is all the more challenging to distinguish His will when I’m being bombarded by thousands of posts that are the finished products of other people’s flesh + the product being most likely evaluated and consumed while i’m in the flesh + these posts being in the form of a mere sound-byte or short post that will be mindlessly consumed by me; then likely disregarded and forgotten forever.

These factors within the wide scope of social media often combine to serve against us, rather than be the “helpful tools” that we would like to consider them to be.

4 Things To Know

Personal boundaries and guidelines must be put in place in order to guard your heart, mind and soul against your own personal bias and inclination to heed to worldly influence. Here are 4 things to know and consider as you seek to create your own guidelines:

  1. The start of the morning should be devoted to uninterrupted devotion to God. In the words found in Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”

Then we can rejoice like King David, 

“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:10-16)
  1. The amount of time you spend on social media will increase your likelihood of being influenced by your culture’s beliefs and worldviews. Therefore, consider decreasing and/or being more intentional about the amount of time you spend on social media. Don’t turn your brain off when consuming media, but be cognitively aware of intellectual and spiritual threats… the path to secularization is incremental
  1. What you follow reveals what you value. Follow edifying pages. Abide by an “all [decent] pages are lawful, but not all things are helpful” mentality. Additionally, look for pages that will fill your day with God-exalting content. These should not, and cannot, replace your daily reading of God’s Word, but they can be very welcomed reminders of Who we belong to and what we are to live for. Personally, I have come across many pages and accounts devoted to posting Godly and edifying content in the forms of quotes, prayers, and more. 
  1. Social media content is not inherently evil. In that we were created in the image of our God, the Creator, we, too, are creators… or “sub-creators” you could say. This truth also applies to the creation of social media content. You could argue that content creation is an art (and you’d be right) and you could also argue that God can be glorified through content creation and His Kingdom furthered (and you’d be right, too). This sub-set of creation and art can be good and God-glorifying; But, may it not become our idol and jailor.

We are incomplete creatures being made complete in and through Christ. Be mindful not to fill the gaps of emptiness with unwarranted opinions, beliefs, convictions, thoughts, and posts from social media (and especially guard against it being the first thing you expose your mind to when you awaken in the morning). 

Let your mind be held captive to and shaped by the Word of God and not the things of this world.

Read my article Social Media & The Digitized Christian