In Part 2 of my series, The Myth of Adolescence, I examined the effects of our media-saturated culture on our youth. I argued that it is squeezing young people into a mold where the attainment of Christian character and competence is nearly impossible, while offering in its place an ersatz maturity—technological, sexual, and superficial in nature—that will result in a generation of empty heads and shallow hearts.
My cry was not one of hopelessness. Rather, it was a challenge to my fellow young people to recognize that their restraints are illusory, not inherent, and to free themselves from the shackles of our culture’s expectations.
In response to that challenge, one of my good friends commented with an excellent follow-up question. In short, her inquiry was this: “How do we alert our fellow young people to what is happening? How do we fight this on a larger scale?”
Thank you, Lauren, for taking the time to really think about these things and ask questions. When our fellow young people take the truths that Brett and I have been discussing and begin to act on them, it validates everything that we’ve been talking about.[Note: If you have not yet read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I would strongly encourage you to do so before continuing.]
Before we can change the culture, we must first change ourselves. To do so, let me begin by outlining a foundational concept of a rebelution.
In Proverbs 13:20 we read, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The meaning of this verse is clear. To put it plainly, we become like our companions. This is a simple but foundational truth. For us as young people to make our peers our primary source of companionship is to effectively pool our ignorance and foolishness. To walk with the wise is to walk with those who are older, wiser, and godlier than we are.
However, we will not glean the full wisdom of this verse unless we recognize that our companions are not limited to just people. Our companions include, not only our friends and family members, but also the books, magazines, newspapers, and comic books we read, the movies and TV shows we watch, the video games we play, the blogs and websites we surf, and the music, radio shows, and podcasts we listen to.
In today’s information-charged world, many people spend more time with these non-human “companions” than with their peers. According to a study published by Business Week, the average American spends 9.5 hours a day watching TV, going to movies, renting videos, reading magazines, listening to music, and surfing the web. This was in 1998. Since then, Internet use has skyrocketed, DVDs have supplanted VHS, and the iPod has ushered in a new era of isolation from fellow human beings.
The mistake that many young people fall into is this: while we may be careful as to who our human companions may be, we give little to no thought regarding the countless other companions that we constantly allow to influence us. This is why media, of any kind, is such a powerful societal weapon. We do not think of it as a companion.
If we truly wish to walk with the wise, we must choose the media we read, watch, and listen to, with the same care we apply to the selection of our friends… Because, they are our friends.