By Albert Hung
Tony Reinke posted a blog recently that caught my attention called Why We Click Stupid Links.
So I clicked it.
I love the internet. Love, love, love it. My addiction started well before the internet really existed as we know it today. I’m a child of the 80s, after all. Our first computer was the venerable Timex Sinclair ZX81, followed by the Atari 800 and Commodore 64. There was no internet, at least not for us ordinary folk. If I wanted to find something out, I had to go to the library.
Ah, the library. My home every Saturday afternoon. Dad would drop me and my sisters off after lunch and pick us up before dinner while he ran errands (or napped, I’m not sure which). I think today that would be considered neglect, but back then nobody thought anything of it. I loved the library. I lost track of time as I devoured book after book. What I didn’t finish there, I brought home. To this day, I love the smell of libraries. I take my kids there often, but it’s really for me.
But then in college, BOOM. The internet. The information highway had arrived and good Lord, they had figured out how to make it travel through my computer and straight into my brain. I was hooked. Go the library? Phhphht. That’s like, a five-minute walk across campus. And I’d have to wear pants.
Twenty years later, the internet isn’t just for nerds anymore. It hasn’t just affected the way we share information. It’s changed how we spend our leisure time, how we conduct business, how we think, even the way we relate to one another. In a very real sense, the internet is changing how we express our humanity. But the internet is also revealing what has not changed about us, and is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Reinke noted that during the week he wrote the aforementioned blog post, CNN.com featured the following hyperlinked titles as “Top Stories”:
- Crack-smoking mayor won’t quit
- Was pushed husband blindfolded?
- Woman killed in cougar attacks
- Misquotes fuel Tom Cruise attacks
- Deer pierced in the face by arrow
- Guess who’s back in skinny jeans?
- Do astronauts clean their undies?
What are we to make of this tabloid style reporting from an institution that bills itself as “The Worldwide Leader in News?” What do the comments sections in just about every news site, social media channel, and blog reveal about the kind of people we really are? What do we make of the fact that porn sites get more traffic each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined?
I love the internet for the same reason I loved the library. I like to be entertained. I want my mind to be stimulated. I’d like to say it’s because I love information, but my reading and surfing habits indicate that I’m not always that discriminating about what goes into my brain. It could be a thought-provoking commentary on the relationship between faith and justice. But it could just as easily be reading the rumor mills about the next iPhone launch (which I have no intention of buying anyway) or which Star Wars character is most like me.
The internet may have changed how I access information, but it hasn’t changed the fact that I often have trouble distinguishing the things that matter from the things that don’t. It hasn’t changed the fact that I am far shallower than I care to admit. I have wasted far too much of my life already on consuming information that I care nothing about. If I do this for just an hour a day, over the course of a lifetime I will spend somewhere between 3-4 YEARS wasting my life clicking on stupid links. That’s sobering. And I find it ironic that you’re reading this because somehow, in the vast sea of links clamoring for your attention, you decided to click on this one.
We all know that being more careful about what we eat leads to all kinds of physical, psychological, and emotional benefits. What would happen if we were more discriminating with what we allow not just into our bodies, but our brains as well?
Read what Reinke has to say. It will be worth your time, I promise.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
Albert Hung is the Lead Pastor at Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Monterey Park, California, a multi-cultural church with services in English and Mandarin. After spending several years working in theater, television, and the music industry, Albert committed his life to Christ in 2000 while living in Taipei, Taiwan.
Soon afterwards, he moved to Southern California to begin a new journey as one called to full time ministry. He is passionate about leadership development, cross-cultural ministry, and mobilizing Christians to use their gifts and abilities to advance the kingdom of God in the local community.