I just got back from a week in the mountains with my beloved children. I’m a youth pastor without any kids of my own, so when I talk about “my kids,” I mean these teens and tweens whom I love with all my heart. We had a phenomenal trip, but the more time I spend with them, the more my heart breaks as I get to peer deeper into the culture in which they dwell.
And that culture is shaped in large part by you, Internet.
When I was in high school not that long ago, girls would wear the sports jacket of the boy they adored. They would fill their notebooks with his name, and perhaps her own name followed by his last name.
But today, to catch the eye of the boy she likes, a teenage girl will just send naked pictures via Snapchat or any other myriad apps designed for just that kind of communication.
Today, in order to impress her boy, she has to strip down and reveal her body just to keep a guy interested for longer than a few minutes.
So thank you for that, Internet. Thank you for disrobing my kids just to let them feel a little bit of value or beauty. Thank you for putting into their pockets unlimited connectivity and unrestricted access to the world.
Thanks to you, I walked in on three of my 8th graders talking about sexual acts I didn’t know about until well into my college years. So thanks for spreading your wealth of information.
Thank you for stripping down and beating to a pulp any hope my kids had of holding an attention span longer than 14 seconds. They have become addicted to your apps and videos like a drug addict to his beloved heroin.
When we first arrived at the cabin, we made a rule that during group activities, discussions and meals, your phones were to be nowhere near you. That rule lasted about five minutes before my kids were pasted to their screens once again, unable to enjoy the company of the friends and leaders present with them.
And I know this is no accident, dear Internet. I have read article after article about how you rake in the profits the more time my kids and I spend on your apps. Not only do you beckon them back to your beloved apps with push notifications and unique sound effects, you want to keep them there as long as possible. You have countless little algorithms in place to ensure that my kids will whittle away their time (aka, lives) glued to your precious screens, unable to break from their devices longer than a few minutes.
Unable to sit in silence, their minds unstimulated.
Unable to be with their closest friends in a mountain cabin for a week.
Unable to read a book (those heavy paper things) because ‘it’s too boring.’
You hide behind the cloak of connecting us with our friends, when just the opposite is true. You don’t want to connect us; you want our time. Because the more time we spend on your slice of the web, the more money you make.
Dear Internet, you are heartless and cold; a vacuum cleaner sucking in not only our time but our money as well. You don’t see humans or feel warmth, you only see dollar signs and addictive triggers in the chemicals inside our brains.
My kids are less healthy because you have glued them to their beds and couches.
My kids are less secure in themselves because you flood them with images of far away models flaunting as much skin as Instagram will allow.
My kids are less at peace because you have programmed them to crave your constant stimulation and to wonder who has contacted them in the last 3 minutes.
My kids don’t see their bodies as things of value; they see them as a means to some kind of cheap digital affection.
My kids are more exposed, not only to sexual and pornographic content, but violent and gory images as well. One of my students is addicted to looking at snuff films and pictures of humans who had died brutal deaths. Did he wake up one day and decide to look at these? Or were they served to him on one of your popular websites?
You may have done a lot of good for the world, but most of what I see is destructive and uninhibited. You don’t care about the souls of my kids, you care about dollar bills. Perhaps if you were only aware of just how much damage I’ve seen you do in the lives of my students, you’d at least try to make an effort to improve things.
Please leave my kids alone and stop berating them with your addictive tactics and ruthless dopamine stimulation. I love them more than you ever will, so the least you could do is make an effort to change.
…or just go die.
A version of this article appeared on Ethan’s Blog on July 15th, 2017.
I’m Ethan & I love Jesus as much as my little heart allows. I’m an artist, traveler, and the Lord often speaks to me in poems. I’m a personal trainer, youth pastor and photographer. I graduated from Moody and now live in Colorado. Come check out my blog at www.ethanrenoe.com.