Ours is a culture that is obsessed with the idea of self-image. We labor constantly to make sure that our children – and indeed even adults – feel like they are worth something. Rather than base our view of ourselves on sound biblical footing, we’ve decided instead to manufacture worth for human beings out of thin air. The reason I say this is because the view of origins of those who seem to be consumed with giving people self-worth is more often evolutionary theory. That very theory makes it clear that there is no inherent meaning or purpose for our lives. We are just the latest in a series of very lucky accidents that have lead to our current state. What I find somewhat funny is that those who hold to this view of our origin give themselves to a frantic effort to make people feel like their identity is something truly special.
In keeping with this frenzied search for meaning I bring up a New York Times article entitled, “How Young is Too Young for a Digital Presence?” by Molly Wood. Much of the article is spent debating how young is too young to allow your child to participate in facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other digital social network. But what is fascinating to me is Ms. Wood’s final paragraph in which she comments on our children’s need for such a historical digital presence. Her comments are not intended to encourage us to allow our children to participate in these social networks, but rather speaks of how we do need to make sure that they are represented on them by our own posting.
Let me quote her last paragraph to help you see the ridiculousness of her statement.
“if anything a child today who grows up and discovers that he has no photos on facebook or Instagram, might think of himself as an unloved anomaly. In an age of obsessive digital detailing if a child grows up unrecorded what is his identity at all?”
Evidently to be absent from social networking is to have no identity whatsoever - what a horror! Please understand that I enjoy seeing pictures of my granddaughter Emily on facebook just like any other proud grandfather would. But to think that her identity would be wrapped up in how many posts were made on her behalf is utter silliness. What about the child who grows up in a poor home where these things could not be afforded? Are they an unloved anomaly? Are they identity-less phantoms who must spend the rest of their lives wondering if they have any meaningful existence?
This is nothing more than the continued efforts of a society that is slowly losing their ability to reason. Having rejected God as creator, we desperately search for something . . . anything that can make us feel like we have value. Yet, searching for this in an online presence is little more than a fool’s errand where our true worth is measured in little more than how many pictures – how many “likes” – and how many reposts we can garner for ourselves. This kind of self-obsessed existence gives rise to a generation where we bury ourselves in our electronic devices – rarely looking up for any kind of real interaction with the person who is sitting across from us at a table. And to actually look even further up – seeing the glory of God in creation and realizing that if God made us we have ultimate meaning and purpose – well, that is just crazy talk.
Let me encourage you to do something for your children. Take time to talk to them – personally – not by text. Take time to affirm them as something more than an electronic signature going out into the electronic ether desperately searching for one more “thumbs up” to make them feel loved. Let them know that they are the special creation of God. Tell them God knit them together in their mother’s womb – and knew all their days, even before one of them came to pass. Let them know that God loves them with an everlasting love. They are not made in the image of Mark Zuckerman (thank God!) or little more than a Twitter in the night. Tell them they are made in the image of God Himself and were made to fellowship with Him and know Him. Let them know that they are seen as more than a brief flicker of pixels on an instagram – that they were graven on the hands of God’s very Son as He gave His life for them. Inform them that their lives are not measured by how often they are found on Vine, but rather that their live because by God’s glorious grace they have been grafted into THE VINE. Reject this goofiness that glorifies one’s digital presence as the end-all be-all of their purpose and identity. They are more than the sum total of their flashes of electronic 1’s and 0’s. They are made in the image of God – redeemed by the blood of the Son – and given life by the very Spirit of God Himself. That, dear saints, is how to help your child know that they have, not only an identity that will last until your hard drive dies, but one that goes on for all eternity.