Part 1: How We Got Here
This section of the book sets the stage for Martin's argument, not the rise of the social internet and its significance.
- How did the social internet evolve?
- How does the social internet work?
- How does the social internet affect our lives?
Part 2: Five Ways the Social Internet Shapes Us
Here lies the current state of things, as Martin sees it, concerning the influence of the social internet on our lives. This is essentially the meat of the book and his argument.
- We believe attention assigns value.
- We trde our privacy for expression.
- We pursue affirmation instead of truth.
- We demonize people we dislike.
- We destroy people we demonize.
Part 3: Where Do We Go from Here?
In his final section, Martin provides advice about navigating the social internet in a healthy way.
- Study History
- Admire Creation
- Value Silence
- Pursue Humility
- Establish Accountability
- Build Friendships
I'm here to tell you that the water is poisoned. ~ Martin, 1
This is a call for two things (1) realize you're in the waters of social internet and (2) be mindful of how you navigate them. Martin announces a fear that the social internet has so woven its way into the fabric of everyday life that it is now largely invisible, like water for a fish. He claims this is dangerous, because the water is definitely unhealthy.
The social internet is brilliant and obscene. ~ Martin, 2
Social media is like a drug is a common analogy, but it's not as accurate as it could be. The broader social internet and the various social media platforms within it are probably best understood as a drug dealer. ~ Martin, 43
In other words, the content is the drug, and the platform dispenses the drug to us. This is an important insight for two reasons. First, the platform is still a problem, like a drug dealer. It knowingly provides you with unhelpful content for it's own gain. Second, the content itself also comes into view here, and perhaps this reveals something about the human heart. Why are we so content hungry? Why have we turned everything into content? These are important questions.
A Risk-free, Cheap Tribalism ~ Martin, 45
Here's a really good explanation of this. The social internet facilitates a cheap (I would say counterfeit) community of like-minded people that results in tribalism (in the pegorative sense). Unlike real community, that is multi-faceted in opinion and has a varied social landscape of thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and opinions that are not always complementary and sometimes even contradictory, this risk-free tribalism allows people to easily find people who just agree with them on any point and not have to reason against competing ideas. It's easy to find and easy to leave in search of others.
In the early twentieth century, many scholars and philosophers, like media philosopher Marshall McCluhan who wrote the book The Medium is the Message, believed a technology would eventually come along that would establish a "global village," connectting the whole world. That technology, the internet, did come along. But the internest hasn't created a global village; it has provided an avenue for all the individual ideological villages of the world to fight with one another. ~ Martin, 45
Crucial point. This gets to Hiebert's concepts of Globalization and Localization. If you create the first one, you will also wind up with the second one. Localtionation, or nationalism, is the rubber-band snap that comes from the pressues of loss of identity into the grand forces of globalization. The internet has certianly only heightened this, and we find tribalism occurring because of it.
Today, all it takes to defend your village from another village is some free time, an internet connection, and a fervor for what you believe is right… You can go to war right from your pocket whenever you want, with (seemingly) little consequences. ~ Martin, 47
Questions in Light of the Great Commission
- What led you to write this book and what do you hope it accomplishes?
- It seems the point of the book is that social media (or the social internet) is here to stay, it’s part of the fabric of our lives, but it is dangerous so wake up. And be careful. Is that a fair assessment? Why do you believe this?
- You have a different approach to social internet. You aren’t a T-toteler…. But you also aren’t a naive consumer. How would you describe your approach?
- What precautions do you recommend?
- How should Christians think about Social Internet?
- There’s Japanese proverb, “The teacher and the student walk in the same path.” Your “teacher/mentor” in this thinking is Neil Postman (in fact, you include him in your forward) - Can you introduce his work to our listeners? Why do you think he is so important?
- How can social Internet enhance the church’s pursuit of its mission? How can it interfere?
- Can we/ should we consider social media a "mission field?" In other words, is there a healthy way to use social media to reach lost people with the message of the gospel in a way that is both healthy and effective?
- How about church online? Should churches employ these means of communication?