On iOS 7 and pirates

ios-7-pirateI saw a tweet from Scott Duvall today that aligned with some thoughts I was having over coffee and scripture relative to our society, iOSes and pirates.

@jscottduvall: More and more convinced that the driving passion of our culture is entertainment in all its various forms.

Yesterday, the new iOS 7 was released. Social media was abuzz, and everyone hammered whatever WIFI they could find in a digital footrace to become an early adopter. Apple has created such a nerd dash phenomenon in their iOS releases. For hours, and from sea to shining sea, people from moms to Miley opined on the features they liked or hated.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrrr. We live in a strange place. It’s like our culture has become a national youth group. We have to have something external – everyday – to distract us and as Scott said above, to entertain us.

If it’s not something like an Apple announcement or an i-Patch (see what I did there?), it’s the latest news about whatever athlete, singer, politician or groundhog. The media have made the banal an ingredient for whipping us all into a cultural frenzy over insignificance.

Ask yourself today.. who or what is our culture trying to distract me from? Who or what do I not think about when I am consumed with the latest tech or news?

I propose to you that what is happening is a strategy to keep you from significance and the eternal. It’s a masterful manipulation of your attention through commercials, consumerism, sexuality and ordinariness. Yet all of it together is being used to keep you from stopping to… think.

Even as I typed this, I glanced down at an important text – to find that it was from Redbox, offering me a free movie. Ooooo. I need to go see what the latest releases are… See how it works? And where I was once toying with the idea of examining the eternal and sublime, I’m now wondering if I need to see World War Z again.

Scripture talks of those who follow “the course of this world” (Ephesians 2.2) and indicates that there is a temporary though powerful ruler of our present age. That verse calls Satan the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Jesus said in John 12.31 that He defeated Satan and was casting out “the ruler of this world.”

So there’s an entity, a being in charge of your distraction. Change the “a” in distraction to a “u,” and you’ll understand what he is really after in your life – destruction.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10)

Satan’s masterful manipulation of your attention and seemingly innocent love for entertainment is done to keep you from significance, matters of eternity and real life. All the things that he does in our world today to accomplish this – the systems, the societies, the abuse, the injustice, the consumerism, the greed, etc – these big picture and overwhelming systems are called “this present darkness” in Ephesians 6.12.

The apostle John said it like this:

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)

Before you rip off your eye patch or deep-sixing your iPhone in alarm and disgust, here’s the thing: Rise above it all. The things in this world aren’t evil in and of themselves. It’s how you use them or allow yourself to be used by them. Take time to think. Truly think.

Socrates had it right and merely echoed biblical principles when he said:

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Compare it to Haggai 1.5, 7:

“Consider your ways.”

Or to Paul’s instruction:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

When you take time to get quiet and think, you’ll also begin to truly listen. Listening deeply is a prerequisite for the rewiring of your life. When we’re still, we get reconnected with the deep things of life that humanity was created for. Psalm 46.10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

When you’re still, the noise or language of culture will fade, and you’ll begin to hear another voice speaking.

In their excellent post How to live deeply in a surface society, Timothy Willard and Jason Locy said:

Our cultural language focuses on the self. How can I get ahead? How much money can I make? How great can I appear to others? But for the Christian, this language is antithetical to our faith. Aren’t we called to something more? Something deeper than the veneer this world offers?

In contrast to the language of culture, another language exists. This language points us to our true existence – towards honesty and meaning and deep relationships. It sees the “hollow man” pursuit of the world and pushes past it, toward a renewal of the inner self. It is the language of God.

Reconsider what you’re being distracted by and understand that constant distraction will lead to your destruction. It is an ugly, spiritual strategy designed to keep you from discovering the amazing, deep, beautiful love of God in Jesus Christ. Think deeply, my friends… or your timbers will be shivered.

Blogger down, blogger down

aquamanAaron Peck over at Carp Dime is contemplating blogicide. I hope you’ll swing by his latest post and talk him away from the delete key. He’s been blogging inconsistently (haven’t we all?) for nine years, so it’s worth your 3 minutes to hammer out an encouragement comment.

Listen to the desperation in his plea:

Sure, Google Analytics tells me the number of people who view the blog every day. But for all I know, these people are clicking over, browsing the headline, then clicking away.

That being the case, I think I might quit. I’ve always said that the things I write here are more for me than anyone else. If that’s true, why am I not just collecting my thoughts in a private Word document?

I did my part. Here’s the comment I left:

Two things.
1. Don’t stop.
2. Consider moving your blog to WordPress.com. There is a much more interactive community there, and I believe it’s better for connecting with others.

A few other thoughts:

I’ve felt as you do many times. I know I write good content. Not tooting my own horn. I just know it. I spend a lot of time trying to write well to inform, encourage, and equip. I also write for fun and to make people laugh. I want to build a community through my blog. Yet the feedback and comments are few and far between at times. It’s discouraging to get 20+ comments on some stupid picture I post on Facebook and then get none on a theological post on my blog. So I feel your pain.

Yet, I’d encourage you to keep at it. And make sure you’re linking to other blogs and leaving comments on other blogs as well. It’s the old “you’ve got to be a friend to have a friend” in the blogosphere.

Finally, don’t give up. Keep plugging away. You’ll be glad you’ve documented life, thoughts and current events one day or week at a time. Sometimes I’m surprised by how my blog actually encourages me as I peruse an old article as a result of a search. “Haven’t I written on that before?” is usually how it begins.

Hope this is encouraging.

The lack of feedback on a blog is indeed discouraging for most. With the advent of feed readers and email subscriptions, it’s even harder to take the time to surf on over to the specific blog and leave a comment. I’m the world’s best lurker but worst commenter.

It’d be a shame to allow Aaron to fade away with a whimper. Leave a comment. Add Carp Dime to your feed list. And maybe leave a comment here…

Similar Posts about Blog Commenting:

Commenting on blogs is important. For reasons that I’ve listed before, I prefer having interaction with readers and authors. There are only a couple of blogs that I read that disallow commenting. The authors’ reasons for doing this (for the specific two I refer to) are to enable them to focus on quality content. My contention, however, is that content is augmented and enhanced by the comments of others. It also allows readers to feel more ownership and to feel like they’re contributing to that particular blog’s community.

Why your blog is your front porch or home base

This year I’ve been in process of rewiring my brain and its use of technology. I used a dumb phone for two months to jumpstart that process digitally. I have also been attempting a content revolution in the way I interact with social media. This entry elaborates on the latter experiment.

You can check out the origins of the experiment at these entries:

I stumbled across Darren Rowse’s entry about Home Bases and Outposts which explains how he uses his blog as his principle platform for content. He calls it home base. He sends material from home base to social media, which he calls outposts – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. He asks:

What’s my strategy? Why invest so much time into sites that I don’t actually own?

(You’ll notice from the graphic at the right that Rowse wrote back in 2008 when Plurk and Friendfeed were still kicking.)

Neil Matthews of wpdude.com also follows the home base and outpost concept for digital content. He commented:

The outposts I use are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I don’t own the content I create on twitter et al and I could be thrown off the site if I contravene any of their rules or regulations, so the activity I do there and the content I create, whilst still important, is expendable if I choose not to continue tweeting or stumbling.

What I hope to accomplish at the outposts is to meet other people build relationships and if they care,for them to visit my home base site.

The problem is social media is that it can be a huge time suck. I want to concentrate on my home base and update my outposts as easily as possible.

Tanya Dennis captures the same thought with different images. She says her blog is her front porch, and that microblogging has been hard on digital community by keeping former neighbors off their front porches. I’m going to quote her at length because she’s explains it so well:

Blogs were once casual front porches where people could meet and visit and share pieces of their lives. They’re now formal stages with lights, sound systems and intricate algorhythms for marketing and sales. Simple anecdotes used to make perfect blog posts. No more. Now blog posts need to be polished articles with calls to action, numbered lists and at least three SEO-optimized headings. Oh, and don’t forget the perfectly edited, texted, tagged and themed images to accompany each post. Having an old-fashioned “blog” is no longer enough. Writers now need full-blown, self-published online magazines. Updated at least thrice weekly, please.

I miss the way blogs used to be.

…And so I Facebook. And I tweet. And I create text images for Pinterest. I share glimpses of my thoughts, small indicators of what God is teaching me … but I don’t blog.

Microblogging has crippled my blog.

Anyone else feel this way? Use to be an aspiring blogger? Did you use to enjoy a close-knit community – even if it was rather large – of interaction and discussion? Then along came social media. Honest thoughts and dialogue was strangled by the need to gain followers and create a viral 140-character update.

I’d encourage you to read Tanya’s entry in its entirety. She concludes her observations about her blog with:

This may not be a perfect place, but it’s safe. It’s warm and unpretentious. It’s where we can connect and grow and laugh and learn together. Grab a cup of something and join me.

I agree. I’d like my blog to be a lot like the front of Cracker Barrell. Hop in a rocking chair or grab a checker board, and let’s talk. If this entry has encouraged you, dust off your home base.