Oh the irony: It IS the scam…

Scams are dime a dozen these days. There are phone and email scams and social media scams and those that show up in your letterbox promising marriage to a Nigerian prince and more money than you could imagine.

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They’re annoying, but though many of us have been momentarily sucked in, we’ve all learned to be pretty ‘scam-savvy.’ Or so we think.

What does my head in these days is the number of ‘chainmail scams’ people fall for on Facebook. Sure, we all know that if we don’t pass on that letter or email we probably won’t have seven years’ bad luck, and our beloved dog Fluffy probably won’t die (I don’t have any beloved pet, but I’m sure it’s frightening for those who do). But it seems that thousands have missed what modern-day chain mail is.

Our fear has made us quick to warn our friends of any impending scams. What it seems people are missing, however, is: those ‘pass it on’ warning messages on Facebook? That IS the scam!

No, Facebook won’t shut down your account if you don’t share this notification.

No, Facebook is not rife with more hackers than usual, requiring you to ‘copy and paste’ on your wall.

It’s probably not even ‘International Siblings Day’ (for the 10th time this year.)

Share what you like, but share what you like. Don’t share because you’re afraid that life as you know it might change if you don’t. I expect things will be okay for a while yet.

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Rubbish Christians Post on Facebook

UntitledI came across this the other day. I honestly can’t remember who posted it, (if it was you, I’m sorry) and I have no doubt the person meant well, but I really believe this stuff has got to stop.

It seems that Christians get far too caught up in liking and re-posting things that sound good, with little thought to whether or not they are true. Under the illusion that we are making a stand for what we believe in, we find ourselves merely propagating the idea that our faith is a house of straw that will be blown down with the first winds of reason.

As Christians, we are in possession of the greatest, deepest and purest redemptive truth the world has ever seen, and yet somehow we manage to reduce it to this sickening fluff.

How is it that the epic triumph of Jesus over evil can become glorified chain mail with a caricature devil and a spiritualised guilt trip?

Before you let yourself be guilted into ‘passing it on,’ ask yourself this: Does it do our saviour justice, and is it scriptural truth?

Because I can guarantee you this, the true army of God has the Word of God as its sword, and not some feel-good anecdote.

Instagram my Life (how we’ve all become airbrushed models)

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The magazine industry has long been slammed for its propagation of perfect air-brushed images.

And so it should be.

The criticism does not stem from society’s inability to appreciate art, but rather from the fact that we understand that what we (and teenage girls in particular) see in magazines, helps to define our sense of ‘normal.’

I’d like to propose that we can no longer point the finger exclusively at Hollywood and the magazine industry for giving us a distorted sense of normal. While we may not be reshaping our appearance to the same extent that these industries do, social media, and, in particular Instagram, has enabled each of us to put forward our own perfectly ‘altered’ version of our lives.

Instead of seeing each other for who we really are, we are assailed daily by images that have been composed, cropped, filtered, adjusted and selected from dozens more that didn’t make the cut.

We’ve Instagrammed our lives and in the process we’re re-defining normal. We’re building a discrepancy between ‘real me’ and ‘media me’ and we’re finding it hard to live up not only to the images of others, but even the images of ourselves.

I’m concerned that this ‘masked’ version of ourselves not only conceals an insecure and broken reality, but provokes envy and feelings of inadequacy in others.

So, before we post that perfect picture, maybe it’s worth asking: what message am I trying to send the world about myself and my reality?

What Happens when Morality and Books Collide (and you couldn’t see it coming)

shock-and-awe_2666361I’ve always loved reading, and I’ve tried to be discerning with what I read. I grew up largely on Christian fiction, the occasional bestseller and my high school reading list. When I became a teacher six years ago, I set out to become ‘well read’ in secular fiction, so that I knew what to recommend to my students. I began devouring popular books, and, last year, read a book a week for the entire year.

My endeavor, however, had a frequent downside. Too often, I’d find myself gripped by a novel only to discover an increasing amount of content that I didn’t feel comfortable reading. I felt a conviction that this content was not something that I, as a Christian, should be reading; but I was loving the book! On occasion this battle ended with me tearing the book to pieces; making a bold personal stand within myself.

I was sick of the battle between my moral standards and my love of reading. I scoured the internet for a source that would help me discern what sort of content was in a novel before I started reading it. There was nothing to be found.

Now there is.

My new website, www.bookclassifications.com , exists to assist the discerning reader in discovering what level of content may be in a book before they start reading it, or pass it on to their child.

I’d love for you to check it out, share it with friends and family and like us on Facebook!

How do You Know … if You’re in a Relationship?

handheld-relationship_2349450Seriously? Really? How is it possible not to know?

I know this is what most of you are thinking, but you may be surprised. Surprised by how many couples go through a confusing, un-defined stage in which their ‘relationship’ somewhat resembles a sailboat being skippered by a hare and a tortoise.

There is one saving grace in all this: Facebook. We all know ‘it’s not official until it’s on Facebook,’ but sadly some couples didn’t even know it was official until their other half put it on Facebook.

Do you really want this stale, blinking social media site (that we all simultaneously love and loathe) dictating the course of your relationships?

Of course not!

There is one simple answer to this problem. Call me old-fashioned, but it really works in clearing up muddy relational waters. Guys, you have to ask her.

Like, properly ask her. Not down on one knee for goodness sake, save that for later, but make it very clear that you would like her to be your girlfriend. Not as a statement; as a question.

Since you may only get one shot at it, make it a good question. Not ‘so, should we make it official?’ or ‘should we put it on Facebook?’ but an actual classy ‘you’ version of ‘will you be my girlfriend?’

You may get away with casually moseying into a relationship without having to go to all this effort, but chances are she’ll remember that you never really asked her out. Or even worse, she may not realize that she’s your girlfriend at all!

See also: How do you know… if it’s a date?

I love Social Media… or do I?

Apparently the emotions of love and hate are strongly related. I can see this in action in my feelings towards social media.

It’s tempting to say that I hate social media, but my actions betray me. If I dared blog about disliking it, I would be faced with an onslaught of friends crying ‘fraud!’ In fact the irony is obvious. I’m blogging about it. If I hate it, stop blogging!

ff7e6836af97118327bf303f4de4aba7So, I’ll have to face the truth: I love social media. Not all of it, but there’s no denying that Facebook has become an extension of my right hand or that there is now a filing cabinet on the creative side of my brain labelled ‘WordPress.’

So how can I simultaneously love and hate it? My ponderings have led me to this conclusion: Loving something too much can lead to obsession; as we obsess we hand power to the object of our obsessions. Even Nick Thompson, from Wired magazine said of the iPhone: “There are a lot of people who have a problematic relationship with these devices where the device becomes the master and they become the servant.”[1]

Somehow, by our own doing, this inanimate data, somewhere out in the ether, begins to control us. And so we do what humans have done for centuries with an object of obsession: We hate it. But we can’t destroy it, because it has a hold on us.

Do you ever worry about the hold that social media has on you?


[1] Thompson, Nick; in: Maushart, Susan. The Winter of our Disconnect. Profile Books, London. 2012