(By Thor Knutstad)
Life on TV is far from reality. I think we all agree with this simple statement way too easily without understanding its various implications. Let me state it again – life on TV is far from reality. Even when the show or series appears to be healthy, moral, family centered or even biblically rooted, a camera of lens and microphone was never intended to capture in motion the unique story, history and context of people’s lives. Even while we applaud those who are loving, family oriented, God-centered and who defy the norm of society, their higher road living sometimes only serves to create more comparison, more depression and more striving of works and performance; it actually leads to less joy in most people. Life is not The Ingalls Family (yes, this dates me – I’m referring to Little House on the Prairie from the 1970’s and 1980’s). Life is not Duck Dynasty, though I love Willie Robinson’s bold and candid expressions of the Gospel and New Testament truth. Life is not the latest Christian movie to come on the scene and touch the hearts of audiences (but I will say that God’s Not Dead did present the Gospel as clearly as any portrayal that I have ever witnessed in larger venue film). Life is not movies or videos that depict the life of Christ like The Jesus Film, Jesus of Nazareth, or The Passion of the Christ. These grip our hearts and stimulate us to see the life of our Lord, but John says that all the books of the world could not list all of Jesus works and miracles and life. Hmm. Are my statements pessimistic? Am I labeling all these things as bad? I’m not. You may enjoy these things, but they are NOT the setting for your life, your world, your situation and your unique context. They should NOT define your worldview or your values. Even when “quality viewing” seems to touch the strings of your heart, it’s still like finding two diamonds deep in a large pile of manure. You may find a few valuable pieces, but you get very dirty wading through everything else to find the treasure. And you aren’t unaffected by it. In fact, you’re worse off than without it. Some of you may think this sounds legalistic. It is not. This is a call to prudence and sober thinking about what we view, how we perceive and interpret it and why some of our “better” viewing may just be a lesser evil and just another plot of the enemy to have us fall into the trap of Artificial Intimacy. A sober evaluation of this requires spiritual maturity and a more “meaty” understanding of the Scriptures. My heart is to make us think this: Am I filling my heart and soul with Artificial Intimacies? If you are, then this article is for you.
TV, movies, FB and most social media (even including sports) and the internet promote Artificial Intimacy. Artificial Intimacy can be defined as “the result of anything that promotes feelings of connectedness and closeness.” Artificial Intimacy blurs the lines of reality and fantasy to create a passive distraction. In it, we consume data and feelings are created. We are emotionally manipulated, and we don’t even know it sometimes, if not often. Artificial Intimacy is known by, but not limited to, the following defining factors:
It disconnects us from real life (makes us want another life)
It discontents us with real life (hmm, where is the secret of contentment?)
It devalues real life and devalues the ordinary by craving the extraordinary
It deceives our hearts and minds with world views that are less than biblical
It disappoints us and is often quite idolatrous (promotes a false worship of something/someone) without ever really saying the word “idolatry” or “idol of the heart”
It dramatizes everything that happens and looks to solve every problem
It deepens our sinful desires for a good, comfortable life (not a cross-bearing, self-denying one)
It doesn’t deliver the end of isolation and loneliness; it actually isolates us even more
It lures us with tastes and hungry cravings for more entertainment and self-preoccupation
It doesn’t tell you that the backdrop and setting for consumerism leaves us with a plethora of multiple choices, selfish humanism, false optimism, a gospel of social justice that trumps the Gospel of death and resurrection, a desire for more efficient and the faster version, a bow to rationalistic reason and a freedom of doings that go beyond biblical boundaries.
It doesn’t tell you that as you are emotionally manipulated, you will feel more passive and actually more depressed. Consumer and cultural absorption will fill the sponge of you if you haven’t soaked up the deeper truths of God in His Word and soaked up His presence. Artificial Intimacy would never tell you that you’re given dirty and sick water from manmade cisterns (wells) as a trade off to our Lord’s living water for the heart (tough statements, but read them again).
It will make you think that you are ruled by your rights and not by your responsibilities. You are not ruled by your rights. You are ruled by your responsibilities to the Savior and the King. Artificial Intimacy calls you a victim, but the Bible calls you a culpable participant.
It won’t tell you that it wants your theology to come from culture and the world; instead, your theology should stand against and infect the world’s sick heart with cures and antibodies.
Whether it’s TV, social media or even our cell phones, we have to ask this question: are we becoming over connected to Artificial Intimacy? We fear a slowdown from Artificial Intimacy because silence and conversations often reveal what lives below the surface of our hearts. Distractions and busyness are welcomed (in Artificial Intimacy) because they keep us away from sober, somber and prudent considerations. Loud surroundings, the motion of commotion and the visually fast will always occupy and attempt to dominate our minds. But it’s artificial. Let’s get real, people. Is your Intimacy Artificial? Are you over connected? What masters and enslaves you? What is the noise that preoccupies your soul with distractions and stimulations? We wrongly allow the enemy a foothold over the cacophony of our hearts ponderings and pains and the even the voice of God – Satan and the world love the silence of Artificial Intimacy. And Artificial Intimacy is a god (a false one) who serves that very desire. But it is deafening to our souls. And the cost of Artificial Intimacy is vast. It robs you of the gold of True Intimacy – being connected in a still and quieted soul to your Lord Jesus and the Spirit of God –