Last Fall, Rodney Plunket and I team taught a lesson at White Station and I have used the book, Hyperculture, to teach a few other lessons for college students and for other churches. This material is thought provoking and I ask you to consider the following material as a challenge to slow down, live intentionally, and enjoy life with your family, friends, and your God.
Stephen Bertman starts the book off with this quote, “No man in a hurry is quite civilized.”
Bertman’s argument is simple, we are living at a speed that is too fast for us; hence the subtitle, “The human cost of speed.” This pace of life we live is called, “hyperculture” and it is fueled by, what Bertman calls, “the power of now.” He writes, “Nullifying a vision of the past and negating a true view of the future, warp speed isolates us in the present. Marooned there, floating in temporal zero-gravity, we turn to the present as our exclusive basis for fulfillment, and gratification as our sole source of security in a cosmos where all other sources of security have been stripped from us by our onrushing speed. Hurtling through time, we cling to the moment.(2)”
The power of now is fueled by three sources: technology, a loss of history, and the over-dependence of our senses.
First, we will turn to technology. Bertman claims, “Culturally, we have been conditioned to believe our technology frees us from labor. the more the technology, the easier our lives (4).” But is this really the truth?
A LOSS OF HISTORY
Second, Americans have bought into an ideal that the world is always progressing or becoming “new and improved.” We can’t wait for the newest model, like the iPhone 5 that many waited in line for. The new style is always better than the old whether that be cars, clothes, shoes or gaming consoles. And Bertman again warns that if we are inhabitants in a land ever “new” then, “we will always be exiles from time--mobile but homeless.(29)”
So, we give up on history living for the moment, this moment. The past is already done, the future is too far off to think about.
This has drastic implications for our faith, because the Bible is an ancient book, full of wisdom from past generations. the Bible tells us to live with the future in full view, understanding that the sins we commit today influences our future life. In a world where “now” is over exaggerated, the faith story is frustrating because it tries to frame the “now” in a larger journey of life and even beyond life.
OVER-DEPENDENCE ON OUR SENSES
Last, human senses fuel the power of now because every human wants to feel good and not feel bad. We desire to feel pleasure and stay away from pain and we desire that “now,” not later. But when the human senses are constantly overstimulated, then we constantly feel tired.
Bertman writes, “Our senses are limited in their ability to absorb and process information (for example: listening and taking notes). Life can be so stimulating, so fast, that our natural limits are exhausted (34).” If we are honest, we like to feel important. We like to know what’s going on and so no one has to twist our arms to receive emails or sign up for voicemail or join Facebook--anything that provides information to us for us is a good idea. Our desire to not miss out on anything, or be left out of anything, makes the decision for us.
In the end we understand the impact of “the power of now,” Bertman claims: “We have been drafted into a war--the time war--between the slower pace our minds and bodies crave and the faster tempo our technology demands. We are all combat veterans.” We must come to see that “slow” is not necessarily bad and that “fast” is not necessarily good.
Each year there are students who will fail out of school, not because they lack the capacity, but because they spend too much time on Facebook. So, let me provide you with a simple tool for assessment that I found, yes ironically, on Facebook. (Aren't you glad it isn't called "The Facebook") Interesting enough, there is a simple test you can take to see if you are addicted, slightly addicted, or a person who can stop whenever you want.
How do you know if you're already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? The Facebook Addiction Test (FAT) is the first validated and reliable measure of addictive use of the Facebook. FAT is a 20-item questionnaire that measures mild, moderate, and severe levels of Facebook Addiction.
Why is Facebook so Appealing???
1. Facebook Gives A Sense Of Self-Worth
Facebook allows users to talk and share as much as they like about themselves without fear of being labelled as self-obsessed. After all, self- explanation is the purpose of the website and updates aren’t being directed at anyone in particular. Nobody feels obliged to acknowledge what they read so each message received by a friend makes users feel important, interesting and appreciated. Every notification is a small buzz of self-esteem.
2. Facebook Stalking
Many like to know a little too much and Facebook allows users to pry into the lives of others without the fear of being branded a nosey parker. The ability to view photos and spy on others conversations without them ever knowing is what makes Facebook such a thrill for so many of its users. The term for such behavior has been defined as ‘Facebook stalking.’ Furthermore, many people are either too busy or too shy and conserved to phone up old friends just to see how they are getting on. The same can be said for developing new friendships which can prove awkward and time-consuming. Facebook allows us to do both with greater ease.
3. The Facebook Community
Facebook has developed to the point where most 18-30’s from developed countries would struggle to find a peer who hasn’t signed up. Because of its sheer popularity it is now possible to arrange parties, meetings or get-togethers solely through the website. Many Facebook addicts feel that that could be missing out if they don’t check their profiles as often as they do.
4. Facebook on Mobile Phones
Facebook is an instant cure for loneliness and with the recent introduction of a mobile version of the website, it is easier than ever to instantly network with others. Almost one fifth of users are now accessing the site through their mobile phones and official statistics suggests that users become on average 50% more active once they do so.
Why do you use Facebook? Researchers suggest that if you remember why you joined the site and stick to that purpose, you will be less likely to become an addict. So, make sure to answer the question.
This one may not be popular, but I have a confession to make and I need those of you who are sympathetic to my position to affirm that I'm not the only one. I am a campus minister, I try my best to make relational connections to guys at the university and I don't do it through video games. There, I said it...
One could argue that I don't play video games because I'm not that good at them, and they would probably be right. However, if I put in the hours and hours of practice that some of my students put in, then I might just be half good. And I guess that has always been the main challenge for me. Students come to the university to study, get a degree, perhaps get a spouse or at least a group of friends, and this sets them up for a life of honest work in their field and life long relationships. But many students, and I mean many, see school as a time to have fun, live life, and practice self expression (but I'll save this for another time). Part of the having fun is video games, and no I don't think video games are EVIL and I don't think that they turn you into SATAN. (although I am weary of much of the zombie apocalypse talk...as if the regular human one won't be scary enough)
So, I have had some heated discussions with students (guys) over this and I had a person tell me that one of the requirements for a campus ministry position was to spend time playing video games with students. (I didn't apply, but I really thought that was interesting) So what's the big deal? Well, if you play video games once a week or may a couple hours on the weekend, then don't get up in arms, I'm not talking to you. I watch football on Saturday and even occasionally play a little solitaire before bedtime (rebel I know) but I want to address the guys who get defensive before I even plead my case, the ones who play all night, have it hooked up to the internet for "interactive" games or "team games" and the ones who make it a central part of conversation as if they are really doing something great in the world by shooting soldiers and the occasional civilian as part of the virtual army (minus all the PTS and other consequences).
Listen to this quote from 'The Demise of Guys': How video games and porn are ruining a generation By Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, Special to CNN: View the whole article here.
Is the overuse of video games and pervasiveness of online porn causing the demise of guys?
WOW - did that article just place video gaming in the same boat as pornography? Think about the ways we (campus ministries and churches) have ministered to young men with porn addictions. We have had small groups, accountability partners, one on one sessions with the ministers, we have recommended counseling and we have even taught against it because it degrades the very women who are in the ministry with us (the people that surround us every day).
How have we ministered to guys who play video games? The list isn't very long, if it exists at all.
Stories about this degeneration are rampant: In 2005, Seungseob Lee, a South Korean man, went into cardiac arrest after playing "StarCraft" for nearly 50 continuous hours. In 2009, MTV's "True Life" highlighted the story of a man named Adam whose wife kicked him out of their home -- they have four kids together -- because he couldn't stop watching porn.
What if addiction to video games produce the same relational problems as does pornography? What if guys are more and more motivated by arousal and excitement without knowing how to be intimately involved and even opening up and sharing - what my good friend Rusty Woods would call "being vulnerable".
There is more here but I don't want to be too long (you'll never come back).
I want to help develop Christian men, men who are dedicated to God. I want them to love their families, to be faithful and loyal to their wives (if they choose to get married), to spend time with God every day, and that foundation must be laid in college, away from mom (and dad, if they have one), on their own, they must navigate the waters of porn, video games, and so many other things. So, this is why I don't play video games...and why you will not see them in the common areas at the Christian Student Center at the University of Memphis...if you are a guy and struggling...it is a safe place for you.
Our communities are desperate for men who will be relational, intention, and mature. I'm doing my best to live that, and to bring others with me if they dare.
Want more? Go to www.demiseofguys.com
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.