The Internet and Faith Part 2

More reasons the internet is bringing about a precipitous drop in faith.

Top-down one-to-many one-way communication gets tuned out.  Millennials are extremely suspicious of and inoculated against to any form of top-down one-to-many one-way communication (that’s why ad agencies are up in arms about commercials not working like they used to).  With the advent of the internet this becomes even more true, specifically because the internet allows people to weigh in publicly in comments sections after reading most articles.  In a church setting one is not allowed to give feedback publicly (or sometimes give feedback at all).  There will never be another Billy Graham because the trust in the kind of medium he used is no longer there.

People’s electronic bubble (friends they keep in contact with via apps and texting) supersede church as their base of social interaction.  Facebook and other apps short-circuit the church as a meeting place.  Youth group used to be a place where kids made plans to do other things.  Now if kids go to youth group at all, they have their cell phone out and they’re chatting with people from their electronic bubble.

The internet divides us into tribes.  Surfing the web is done alone.  The internet Balkinizes tastes and thought processes.  There used to be overlap in people’s taste in music and news but this is becoming less common.  As Arcade Fire said, music divides us into tribes.  In my case I think so much different than the rest of my family because I’m always on Reddit.  I can’t even have a conversation with people who watch Fox News as their primary news source.  Some would say that’s a good thing but I don’t think so.  How this applies to the church is that when people come together physically often they are in their own world and have so little common ground they can’t connect on any meaningful level.

Read Part 1

Therapist Improvements

I think therapists are the ones who need help!  People aren’t going to them as much as they used to.  So I give them perspective from an older millennial.

Counsel on how people need to face the world needs to be gleaned from real-world experience, not idealistic academic material.  For example, social anxiety is often a fitting adaptation to a hostile social environment and one needs different tools to manage in said environment.  In sports lingo, they say practice how you play.  Academia has this Palagian view of man that says man is basically good, or at least the bad in him or her can be educated or socialized out of them.  This is experientially untrue (and politically incorrect to believe).  Our culture has adapted to hide verbal expressions of evil but the kinetic expressions are still there, sometimes even more strong (because they can’t be expressed any other way) than when we didn’t have our verbal correctness fetish.

People need to be told the truth, even—and especially—when it hurts.  Therapists are afraid they’ll lose their clients if they tell them what they really need to hear so they dance around things.  This isn’t helpful to the client at all.  There is this myth that our (the millennial) generation likes to be coddled.  We are used to being coddled to an extent but that doesn’t necessarily mean we like it.  We have seen so much inauthenticity that we can see right through it as clear as glass.  So when someone tells us the truth it may shock, startle, and hurt us but most of us will still appreciate it.  In my life no one would tell me that church people didn’t talk to me because I didn’t have a real job.  I waited years and finally someone of the older generation told me.

Unfinanced worth mandate.  Every once in awhile congress will pass a huge spending bill without appropriating funds to finance it.  There are a lot of things in our culture like this.  For example the cultural belief that one has innate worth.  This was once a Christian ideal sometimes lived up to in tight knit communities.  However as the boomers got older it morphed from an ideal to a mandate.  And, as the erosion of community and family happened, one less and less “financed” by evidence.  But you’re paying therapists so of course they’re going to tell you you have innate worth.  And if you start with the evidence-based belief that you don’t they are going to slap you with a pathological label rather than lauding your skills in logic and perception.

Keeping Them In Their Place

Just like the economic haves and have-nots there are interpersonal haves and have-nots (though obviously the wealthier and closer one is to being of privilege the more likely they will be an interpersonal have).  Unsurprisingly there are forces keeping interpersonal mobility in check as near as your nearest therapist’s office.

The dog-whistle “innate worth” trope.  Therapists tell their clients they have innate worth.  Interpersonal haves go out into the world and this is largely reenforced by their interactions.  The interpersonal have-nots also go out but are just immobilized by the blowback of experiencing how patently false this is.  The have-not is pushed lower than if they were just gently told the truth.

Lionizing vulnerability.  Vulnerability can be a good or a bad thing depending on the response it elicits.  In the case of the interpersonal haves it’s mostly a good response.  However the interpersonal have-nots it often blows up in their face.  People without serious mental illnesses can be vulnerable and be accepted (just look at Donald Miller) but for those with it’s a very different story.

Stigmatizing bitterness.  The interpersonal haves generally aren’t bitter because their life hasn’t contained elements that would make them so.  The have-nots however often are bitter and have good reason to be.  Bitterness is more understood as an evolutionary adaptation to a hostile interpersonal environment than a character flaw or something that needs to be “fixed” through mind games.  People are naturally trusting.  For the interpersonal have-not this causes them to be in one disaster after another.  Bitterness is like an early warning system for events of trust and it has to be constantly in the background (because trusting comes so naturally).  Obviously like any adaptation it has negative side effects but one must take it on balance, have bitterness’s benefits of keeping someone from getting burned again outweigh its negative effects?  In conclusion for the interpersonal haves, the likelihood of being burned in trusting is low enough that bitterness incurs too much cost, but for the have-nots it’s an appropriate adaptation.

Labeling people insecure.  This is the one thing that some of the interpersonal haves have as well but the have-nots have it worse.  Instead of seeing insecurity as personal insight into the way the world judges someone, it is seen as part of a pathology.  When someone is being judged and they take it to heart do we blame them or do we blame the ones doing the judging?  Obviously the victim gets the blame, not because they are wrong but because they have less power.

Depression Self-Reenforcing Mechanisms

Some observations from inside of depression.

0. Depression is out to kill you.  You are on its kill list.  It just needs your help in getting the job done.  Knowing this will depress you more.

1. Depression makes you contact the people you have no business contacting at the worst possible time.  These being exes, ex friends, and others who don’t reciprocate your engagement.  At the times of my deepest depression I have tried to contact people who no longer wanted to be in my life, worsening the depression.

2. Depression makes you more needy (which brings about contacting people you have no business of doing so).  It makes masking neediness more difficult (everybody’s needy it’s just that most people can hide it).  When neediness is unmasked people run away from you, leaving you more needy and depressed.

3. Depression breeds insecurity directly and indirectly.  It often prevents you from accomplishing the things needed to be treated as someone of value in this society but also makes you porous so the negative thoughts others are communicating about you get absorbed by your brain.

4. Depression makes you absorb love at twice the rate non depressed do.  Most people don’t want to make this sacrifice so they cut you off, worsening the depression.

5. Depression is like Chinese handcuffs.  The harder you try to think your way out of it the deeper you descend into it.