Episode #105 we interview Phil Joel from Zealand Worship.  Phil is the former bassist for the band Newsboys and he talks about his personal approach to social media as well as his current band’s approach to social media.  The automatic assumption these days is that if you’re going to have any presence in the world, you need social media.

As much as it is convenient, easy, quick, helpful, and can be beneficial to communication, does social media take more than it gives?

When we are Jesus followers, trying to be more like Jesus and following his example as serving others. When we are to put others at a higher regard better than ourselves, social media seems to turn the clock back.  It can cause us to go backward in our relationship with Jesus and become more “me-centered.”

Social media has a tendency to cause us to compare ourselves with other people. We can get caught up in being self-absorbed and self-obsessed.

How can we keep our head’s up and see the needs of others when we are so worried about ourselves and about what is going on in other people’s lives?

If we are always concerned about what other people are thinking  all the time or whether we are staying connected, then it makes our hearts a little sick.  And the thing that we use to keep ourselves connected takes more than it gives.

It is for everyone to be responsible and to follow their convictions, which is not something we discuss much anymore.  Convictions should cost us something.

When discussing whether it is a good idea to shut social media down or turn it off, Phil said, “have the guts to turn things off, don’t be such a chicken man, don’t be such a coward, if something is taking you out, and something is making you miserable, someone is making you compare your life with everyone else’s and it’s making you depressed or if you are getting bullied, that whole bit, just shut things down.  Turn things off.”

Are we teaching students to be responsible for themselves?

Most youth pastors/workers have seen what it was before, and see what is being ushered in with social media.  As youth workers, we can help guard and shepherd students’ hearts, so they can make good decisions.  We can hold them to a standard and give them good reasons to avoid negative behavior online.  But with anything in life, we can’t exist without putting parameters on things, especially things that toe the line that stands between good and dangerous, like social media.

What do you see this doing to youth culture and students?
“[It is] making us self-centered, comparing their lives with everyone else, more depression.  People are depressed because they are not focusing on the right things, their heads are down, they are looking at the wrong stuff, thinking on the wrong things, and feeding on the wrong stuff.  Making us useless,” said Phil.

“God made us to enjoy life and enjoy him, have our heads up, be filled with life so we can be useful human beings.  If we are so self-absorbed, how can we be useful?  How can we keep our heads up and see the needs of others when we are so worried about ourselves and about what’s going on in other people’s lives. We end up suffocating on narcism and useless information.”

At the end of the day, there is one voice that we should be listening to.  We have thousands of voices surround us – our peers, news, celebrities – but we shouldn’t be listening to those voices, but to the voice of God, to be a part of what He is asking us to do.