Culture

Culture, Technology

Social media is growing up – Vero


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Just yesterday, Twitter notified me that I have been on their platform for 7 years. It’s probably my most frequented app on my phone, and there is a lot of reasons why it works for me personally. Before Twitter, I was a Facebook user predominantly. Even though I still maintain my Facebook profile, I hardly use it for any significant social purposes. But I know that a lot of people do.

For many, social media is synonymous with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat–the big four right now (although Snapchat is having a bit of a crisis thanks to a Jenner). You know this because they have become cultural verbs.

Remember Febreeze, TiVo, and Xerox? I bring them up because they also were part of our cultural vocabulary. Now, not so much.

Likewise, Facebook and Twitter, if history repeats itself, won’t be around forever. Because social media will eventually evolve and grow up.

Most of us, I believe, do not just want a presence on social media but actually want social media to lead to authentic, incarnational communities. We are a lonely, hyper-sensitive to missing out generation and our current social media does not help us escape this state and mature.

Enter Vero.

The people behind this new social media platform has picked up on something about social media–it has become bloated, encumbered, and ultimately, a platform for consumers rather than a source for genuine communities.

I love companies that have a strong WHY as their foundation. I believe that Vero has something compelling to offer. Check this video out.

“Vero” means truth. I believe the next generation will jettison the bad digital habits of the last decade and adopt more prudent, sophisticated social network.

I believe their manifesto is correct.

PEOPLE NATURALLY SEEK CONNECTION.

THAT’S WHY ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS HAVE BEEN SO WIDELY ADOPTED OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS.

THEY OFFERED THE PROMISE OF CONSTANT CONNECTION AND THE MEANS TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND TO SHARE WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES.

BUT AS TIME PASSED, AN IMBALANCE BEGAN TO FORM BETWEEN THE INTERESTS OF THE PLATFORMS AND THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE USERS.

AND A FALSE SENSE OF CONNECTION LEFT US LONELIER THAN EVER.

IN REAL LIFE, PEOPLE ARE NEVER PRESENTED WITH A ONE SIZE FITS ALL AUDIENCE. WE SHARE DIFFERENT THINGS WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

MOST SOCIAL NETWORKS REDUCE EVERYONE TO A FRIEND OR A FOLLOWER. THIS ENCOURAGES US TO ONLY SHARE THE PARTS OF OUR LIVES WE THINK ARE THE MOST INTERESTING.

WHEN YOU CAN CONTROL WHO SEES WHAT, YOU CAN BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT IS MORE NATURAL, WHICH WE BELIEVE ENDS UP BEING BETTER FOR YOU.

SO WE DECIDED TO CREATE SOMETHING MORE AUTHENTIC.

WE CREATED A SOCIAL NETWORK THAT LETS YOU BE YOURSELF. HENCE THE NAME VERO. MEANING TRUTH.

WE MADE OUR BUSINESS MODEL SUBSCRIPTION-BASED.
MAKING OUR USERS OUR CUSTOMERS, NOT ADVERTISERS.

THE GREATEST SOCIAL NETWORK IS THE ONE THAT ALREADY EXISTS BETWEEN PEOPLE.

VERO’S MISSION IS TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE ONLINE.

THANKS FOR HELPING US BUILD A TRULY SOCIAL NETWORK.

Human nature craves connection. And our generation is about to conclude our ten-year social experiment where we tried to satisfy our desire for belonging and community through “beta” social networks. Verdict? We as a society are clamoring for something better. And better is on the horizon.

I don’t know if Vero will be successful by any means. But the natural selection process is beginning. As technology progresses, I believe that human beings will continue to tweak and refine how we integrate our digital life to ultimately serve our incarnational life.

Maybe it will be 5 years from now. Or maybe 10. But it’s not hard to imagine a world that leaves Facebook and Twitter behind.

As for me, I am always willing to try something new. Vero is free for life for the first 1 million users. If you are interested, I suggest you sign up quickly!

Culture

Generation Z


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Recently, Barna and Impact 360 Institute co-presented their research findings on “Generation Z,” those born between 1999-2015. They asked this particular group of young people about faith, home life, relationships, technological habits, political beliefs, and much, much more.

They also released their Generation Z report, which I am excited to dive into.

 

genz
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation

 

Generation Z is fascinating. They are the first real “digital natives” in human history, never knowing a world without interactive screens, social media, high-speed internet, and Google. In their youth, they have already experienced significant life events like the dawn of Facebook (2004) and the Apple iPhone (2007), the housing crisis of 2008, the election of this nation’s first black president, and the legalization of gay marriage (2015).

Generation Z has had the potential to consume more bits of information from a broader spectrum of sources and mediums than any other generation in history because of the internet. They get their news, not from CNN, NBC, or their local newspaper, instead, from Twitter and Facebook. They have been influenced by Pewdiepie, Casey Neistat, and Liza Koshy, some of the most popular content creators on Youtube, as much as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Brad Pitt, and other A-list celebrities.

Generation Z is approximately 70,000,000 people, more substantial than their predecessors, the Millennial generation. And the oldest of them are now just entering their college years. This means we are now about to experience the beginnings of their tremendous potential. Soon, they will become the influencers and activators of our modern cultural milieu. They will rise to become the leaders of the various sectors of our society. They will be the inventors and creators of the next Facebook or Youtube.

I am excited to learn as an educator and minister about our new overlords. This generation, more than any previous, will be better equipped to make a tremendous change in our world and wield technology and communications more skillfully. But what about their beliefs? What about their faith? What about their values? I am looking forward to how the next 20 years are shaped.

 

 

Culture

Rethinking Social Media and the Church: From digital consumer to community creators (Part 1)


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I’ve come across three common sentiments church thinkers and pastors have about social media:

  1. Social media is impersonal and artificial.
  2. Social media is wasteful and distracting.
  3. Social media is harmful and distorting.

99% of these sentiments have been delivered to me through our modern day ark called “social media.” Do you see the irony?

But before we go further, let me just say, “Yes and Amen!” There is truth in these statements, especially in our present context.

But these concerns and warnings do not paint the full picture of how we should be engaging our socio-technological paradigms in the church.

Your phone now has the capability to:

  1. Start a non-profit that helps your city’s most dire needs.
  2. Crowdfund the next church plant.
  3. Write a book about Jesus
  4. Create, record, and upload your very own podcast to discuss critical issues in the church.
  5. Contact directly through private messaging your favorite author, pastor, etc.
  6. Vlog, blog, chat and share your faith and story.

And a million other things. Here’s the problem though: most of us don’t even think to do 1-6 or 7-1,000,000. Why? Because most of us identify (by our habits at least) as digital consumers that leverage social media for essentially one thing only: SELF.

And if that is true then sentiment 1, 2, and 3 apply all day long. Because Christianity teaches that if we do anything that is self-centered and consumeristic then it will always be impersonal and inauthentic, wasteful and distracting, and ultimately, harmful and distorting.

This is the great pastoral concern. And it fits doesn’t it? So what is the solution? I keep hearing to “get off.”

And if we only use social media to self-promote, then I would be much more resistant to it.

But here’s the counterpoint. Social media is not just a fad. It’s not going away. It’s becoming more sophisticated and more accessible at the same time.

If we jettison technological connection, then we are choosing to forfeit the biggest channel for which we can share the goods of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the problem, we just don’t have enough data. If you look around a lot of people are self-promoting, or self pontificating, or bible thumping in the name of Jesus. I see this on my news feed all the time. It doesn’t take any effort or any thought.

But my experience has been that some of the best examples of salt and light, faithfulness and authenticity have come through social media. And I wouldn’t know about it any other way. It’s not a fluke. We are more a digital world today than we were yesterday. The reality is you cannot reach me without technology and social media anymore. And the opposite is true as well–I cannot get in touch with you, not a bit, without technology.

So if we want to be more:

  1. Personal and authentic
  2. Purposeful and captivating
  3. Beneficial and philanthropic

Then we need to rethink social media. And we need movement from digital consumer to community creators.

We need a new paradigm in the church to raise up disciples who can navigate the digital world we live in today.

Here is how we do it:

  1. Commit to creating something.
  2. Commit to doing it every day.
  3. Commit to making it valuable for others.
  4. Commit to worshipping Jesus through your endeavors.

To be continued…

Culture

the church needs digital discipleship


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A gigantic gap in the Church today is her understanding of our progressively digital reality. This century, technology will accelerate and continue to proliferate, infiltrate, and assimilate everything including how we do church, share the gospel, and live out our faith at home and in the workplace. This is not what is disputed.

What is strange to me though is that this news is being treated as an omen rather than an opportunity.

Today, many pastors and Christian writers are expending a great deal of energy to stave off the impending digital “doom.” The last few years I’ve heard more warnings about me tracking my “like” totals on social media than all other possible human vices combined. That’s weirdly imbalanced to me.

This morning, I read an article on Christianity Today called “How Podcasting Hurts Preaching: Sermons belong in church, not our earbuds.” I think it accurately represents a common fear the church has towards our increasing technological habits.

Here’s the conclusion of the article:

Promoting sermon recordings sends the message that the congregation can just as meaningfully hear the message in the car, the bathroom, or the train commute as in church on Sunday—which cheapens the value of the sermon and the church gathering.

Disembodying the message and the congregation keeps pastors from plausibly promoting the embodied message of our embodied Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By podcasting the content of the sermon, churches unwittingly promote the same cultural gnosticism of digital media’s disembodied form that is itself a primary driver of declining church attendance.

Now really is a good time to ask, “What would Jesus podcast?” The answer is: nothing. In fact, Jesus was so against any form of mediation that he never did anything unless he was there, live, in person, embodied, to see to it personally.

The writer clearly values embodiment and physical presence as it pertains to church attendance and community worship. That’s a good thing. Prudence is a necessity. And yes, the church has done more imitating than innovating when it comes to using technology. Certainly, a major issue we need to address from within the church.

But here’s the irony–I would never have even seen this article if it wasn’t posted on my Twitter feed. You cannot reach me without technology. And I cannot reach you.

What baffles me is the indictment of technological mediums like podcasts as the reason why millennials are the greatest church-skipping generation or why we are facing a faith crisis in this country today. Church services are boring so blame the podcast. Pastors cannot compete with the rest of the world so attack smartphones.

I am skeptical. It’s just too easy of an answer.

It’s like a Christian doctor in the 1960’s saying, “People seem to care less about their mortality because they don’t have to deal with polio anymore. Let’s withhold the polio vaccine so that people have a reason to go back to church and turn from their worldly ways.”

That would be a ridiculous way to get people “right” with God. And I am arguing that the underlying thesis of the article such as the one I shared above is equally ridiculous.

Someone once said, “Technology does not change us. It exposes us. It’s a mirror.” I think this is true.

Our podcasts are not the problem. Our smartphones are not the problem. I am the problem. You are the problem. But what is compounding the problem further? Our unwillingness to look towards the horizon of a new world and see the vast opportunity God has laid out for us.

This century, salt and light must go virtual. God is calling us to a digital Babylon. But we are fleeing like Jonah when we should be ruling like Daniel.

Digital Discipleship

The answer to our technology problem is not just learning about the pitfalls and limiting our exposure. It’s also incorporating prudence and skillfulness into our discipleship. But there is something more important–a vision.

We simply don’t have a vision for how to leverage the power that is on our smartphones and laptops to glorify God.

Maybe your experience is similar but I have never heard a sermon where the practical application was “Go out and create content. Share your love for Jesus on a vlog.” I’ve never been directly inspired to create a Youtube channel or crowdfund a project that shares the Gospel in creative new ways. Why not a new non-profit with people on the other side of the world? Why not vlog every day and talk about faith? Why not create a movement that fights for social justice and changes?

We need to relook at what’s in our hands. We need to recognize that there is a cavern of opportunities for us to excavate right underneath our fingertips.

Most people are now on facebook, youtube, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter FOR GOOD. It’s not going away, O’ hopeful Pastor. And there is more to come. This is our new reality. And I praise God for it. In 15 years, we won’t be contemplating whether technology should be embraced or not. We will be neck-deep in it. In 15 years, we won’t be asking the questions we are asking today.

But in order to be good stewards, we must change our mindset about what is prudent and wise. Yes, the world has become filled with noise. Millions of videos, photos, articles, and songs are being created and uploaded every day. Why add to it? Because we have the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.

Let the Gospel contest with the world. Let it enter into the arena of ideas. I think it will prove to be a worthy challenger to the narrative of this world.

Would love your thoughts!

Grace and peace.