Part of the primary goal of this blog is to encourage careful, critical consideration of how technology is impacting our lives and affecting how we see ourselves. This week episode of PBS’ Frontline, “Generation Like” does an excellent job of doing just that. The one-hour documentary, narrated, written, and produced by Douglas Rushkoff, explores how major corporations use social media to get teens to market their products for them.
More importantly, this documentary explores the fact that our new, highly networked culture has begun a race for attention and affirmation. Social media has given us a chance to tell our stories to the world, but is anyone listening? And if they aren’t, but what does that say about us? How does one get attention in an online world where thousands (if not millions) of voices are all screaming for eyeballs? What we see in the documentary is that teens, in a effort to be “Liked”, are increasingly willing to shape and mold their personalities into whatever gets that attention and affirmation.
While the show focuses on teens and social media, the same behavior can be seen on more “grown-up” forms of social media, such as LinkedIn or any dating website.
“Generation Like” is an informative, insightful, and important documentary that should be required viewing for anyone who uses social media (or the internet). Douglas Rushkoff (who’s work we’ve previously discussed on this site) has hit another one out of the park.
Watch the full “Generation Like” documentary on Frontline’s website (LINK).
What does a culture increasingly focused on peer approval and acceptance mean for Christianity – a faith that calls its adherents to be in the world, but not of the world – (John 17:14-15)?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
I have never spoken to a Christian – teen or adult – whose goal is to get more friends (I.e. – Likes) on Facebook. Bear in mind that I work with churches teaching them responsible ways to use social media to increase membership and connect with other believers. Similarly, the individuals I coach on using LinkedIn are not looking for more connection. They are trying to get a job. I agree that teens can use social media irresponsibly, but when have teens ever been a generation of “responsibility?” Shouldn’t adult Christians coach teens on technology? Telling them how bad it is will only drive them to it more.
And I’m glad this post was shorter than the others. That made me want to read it. Thank you for considering my time, and not your agenda.
I would encourage you to watch the documentary, as it might give you some exposure to points of view about social media that are beyond what you’ve seen.
And please let me clarify my earlier statements. This documentary (and this blog) doesn’t condemn technology or say it is “bad”. Our hope is to better understand how this technology is affecting our behavior, and to raise thoughtful discussion around those effects. For Christians to be capable of coaching teens (or anyone) about the responsible use of technology, we have to first understand it and discuss the theological issues at stake. Again – that’s what this blog is trying to accomplish.