While the defined culture war continues, it is growing nastier and the consequences are reverberating past the church, past the home, and into every individual person’s psyche. It is harder today to shield oneself or one’s family from the vileness of the fight for American society. With the rapid progress and widespread use of the smartphone, powerful words, images and media are pervasive. Around the clock targeting of children and teen “interests” put nuanced rhetoric from warring parties in front of the mold-able minds of future generations. Competing voices pound the digital appetites of millions of hand-held devices persuading the masses of cultural do’s and don’t’s, redefining cultural taboos and frontiers. If governance and law sit upon the culture, and culture rests upon religion, then the most powerful pulpits ever created are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They are the new tools with which to rule, govern and influence. Compared to thirty years ago, the culture war battlefields of today are more formidable and more rapidly affected.
Cultural contests used to be held on campus commons and in newspaper opinion pages. These avenues of battle were slow moving and able to be controlled or countered. But today’s “social media” is the new sounding board where hundreds of millions of young and old alike seek information, inspiration, and encouragement. It is an identity-shaping weapon where adolescent status is confirmed, collegiate sense of acceptance is determined, and young professionals turn for direction and counsel for their future. For new parents, Facebook is often a greater moral compass than the Bible, and for new political idealists, it is where they garner courage. Preachers like to say that either you pray to Google and Facebook, or you put your face and faith in the Holy book – the Bible.
Facebook deifies self, offering the potential to create oneself in the “cloud” of universal likes. The Bible deifies Jesus Christ and warns not to take of the forbidden fruit that Satan offered with the false promise that “ye shall be as gods.” That original garden battlefield is now an ethereal one, giving every user a power to preach or “share” their self-centered message.
While new technologies have the potential to be used for Gospel promotion and affecting the culture for good, increasingly they are used to consolidate power with a keystroke. A grand sort of political correctness has been placed in the hands of Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg, who has the subtle power of determining social behavior and rhetoric. Small groups and hidden huddles may be created in order to converse outside of public purview or plan secret actions, but Gospel work is done tangibly and out in the open.
If just a few of the technological elites decide to isolate certain ideas, corral certain speech, or ban certain opinions, then BOOM, a digital block becomes a powerful weapon. Biblical and cultural opinions about homosexuality, social norms, and the nature of God or evil can be elevated or destroyed, shaped or banned. In the ocean of ideas that affect the American culture, the Bible voice is marginalized while the approved algorithms of whimsical neo-pagan tides ebb and flow ceaselessly shaping intellectual content to Zuckerberg’s approval. The culture war seems to be being fought by millions when it is really in the hands of fewer demagogues.
Consider the following headlines after the 2016 presidential election:
“Barack Obama says Facebook’s fake news problem is creating ‘dust cloud of nonsense’” (Nov. 8, 2016 – International Business Times)
“Here’s Why Facebook Is Partly to Blame for the Rise of Donald Trump” (Nov. 10, 2016 – Fortune.com)
“ZUCK TO THE FUTURE Mark Zuckerberg ‘feeling hopeful’ about America under Donald Trump” (Nov. 10, 2016 – The Sun)
Jasper Hamill’s article in the Sun newspaper quotes Zuckerberg in response to the election as saying, “I thought about all the work ahead of us to create the world we want for our children.” Apparently, Zuckerberg perceives his cultural war “work” as creating a world he wants. He is further quoted, “This work is bigger than any presidency and progress does not move in a straight line.” That sounds like a Luciferian line straight out of the garden with snake-like movement to boot. And again, “[This] work will take a long-term focus and finding new ways for all of us to work together, sometimes over decades.” It became quickly evident whose side the Facebook founder was on, and while that might excite Trump enthusiasts, it should also be a warning to the power of social media and smartphone phenomenon in the culture war. If Facebook might push a close Presidential election race one way or the other, what else might it determine?