Sept. 25, 2020

Four teens and an Internet discussion

Four teens and an Internet discussion

Okay, this week I'm talking to my seventeen-year-old son and some of his friends. They talk about how they see the Internet, how people around them are trying to frame the Internet for them, and how they can see Christianity better using the Internet. Instead of talking about Generation Z, this is a conversation with it.

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Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talk to four teen-aged Christians about how they see the internet. Welcome to balancing the Christian life, I'm Dr. Kenny Embry, we'll discover how to be better people and better Christians in a digital age. Let's go. This is an important and honest conversation with four young guys who are early in their Christian walk. They're young, but they understand the internet in a very intuitive way. They grew up with it as a daily fixture. And I wanted to see how they saw it. I mean, we often talk about what Generation Z believes or thinks without actually talking to Generation Z. So I thought I would sit down and see what they thought. The guys you'll meet are my older son Jake, and three of his friends from church. They play online games a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean, sometimes they're up until one in two in the morning, times, which I haven't seen in years, I have always suspected the games were much less important than the relationships. And you'll find out if I'm right about that in just a few minutes. But I want you to see the world through their eyes for a few minutes. Also, I'm going to guess this is probably one of the few episodes by son Jake will listen to Jake, your mom and I would still like you to clean your room. So today on the podcast, I've got four young men who are interested in the internet and Christianity. I've got my son, Jake. And then Jake's three friends, Dylan, Casey and jack, I tell you what, let me get you guys to just introduce yourself and Jake, why don't we start with you?

Jake:

Hi, my name's Jake. I'm a junior, right?

Dylan:

I'm Dylan, I am going to be a junior.

Casey:

I'm Casey, I'm going to be a senior.

Jack:

I'm jack. I'm going to be senior. That sounds good. How you enjoying school so far? I like it. All right.

Kenny Embry:

A lot of non commitment there. At the time, the conversation I want to have with you guys is basically how you use the internet. So let me ask you guys, and try not to laugh at this question. In a typical day, how do you use the internet?

Jake:

Well, I spend most of my day playing video games, and then occasionally go on YouTube, sometimes social media, most of it, probably a solid 70% of it is playing video games.

Kenny Embry:

So yeah, most of us do that together. So I also Yeah.

Jake:

So that goes for most of us. And what games are usually playing? It depends. Recently, I've been playing a lot of destiny too. But before that played a lot of Overwatch. In a lot of multiplayer games. It'll be like playing so we can play together. Well, let me ask you this. Why are you playing these games? I think like jack said, a lot of it is so we can play with each other. We have six people we normally play with so six people to play together. But a lot of it is to play together. Some of the just fun allows us to talk make memories? Yes, hang out, you know,

Kenny Embry:

okay, I just say jack, and you're making memories. What type of things do you talk about in a video game?

Unknown:

A lot of times the video game, it's just kind of the background, just something we're doing. same types of things we'll be talking about in person just like, what's going on our lives like how we been?

Kenny Embry:

Let me ask this. Do you guys ever call each other up on the phone? And just talk to talk?

Unknown:

No, no, don't do that through phone. There definitely been times where we do that the PlayStation. But for us, since we're on it, most of the time, there's not really need to do that exclusively through phone. So let me ask you this. And I think I know the answer to this. But do you think the major reason that you're playing a video game is basically just to spend time with one another? I tend to become that. I think before I met these guys, most I just wanted to play video games. But now it's so I can talk to my friends.

Kenny Embry:

Do you guys agree with that?

Unknown:

Definitely. Yes.

Kenny Embry:

And let me go back to the question that I asked earlier. What do you guys talking about in these conversations?

Jake:

I think it's hands on. Like sometimes what gamer playing sometimes will talk about just certain things in the game, like what's going on in the game. But like Casey said, a lot of it is what's going on with us just different things we're doing throughout the day and stuff like that kind of life, what's going on around us and what's going on, and our lives and how it affects us and our thoughts on a lot of things going around. Especially now, because of everything going on. This year. We talked about a lot of like current events stuff happening. And like what we think about it, we talked about like how we're feeling about like the new book schooling situation. That was the point of conversation for a long time.

Kenny Embry:

Do you find that you feel better when you talk to each other during a game?

Casey:

I think that talking like during a game is almost like better because conversations naturally have like little holes in them. And like dips. And it allows talking during a game allows you to like, if you're not talking at that moment, it's not awkward because everyone's just playing the game, and not worrying about like awkward silence in the conversation. So I think it's better than having a real conversation. Yeah, I'd agree with that. Yeah.

Kenny Embry:

Do you think he talked about important stuff?

Jake:

I think to us, it's important. I think we'll talk about our thoughts on stuff. And we think our thoughts are important, but maybe not to other people. Yeah, I would definitely say that. I've had important conversations over it. Not like, consistently or all the time. But yeah, it can be used as important conversations. Really, what kind of important conversations I've had. And don't embarrass yourself. I'm just asking for. I'm just asking for general ideas here. Uh, well, recently, definitely. For me, we went on trip. And because I wanted to sleep in the car, I stayed up all night. And so it just so happened that Casey also Saito, fairly late. And so we just ended up talking basically, yeah, when the game, we had a fairly touching conversation that night. Basically, with the game as a backdrop, we weren't even really playing it.

Kenny Embry:

So let me ask you this. Do you guys feel closer to one another? Because of the game you play?

Unknown:

Yes, definitely.

Jake:

I think the games have brought us closer. Definitely. Yes, definitely helps with awkward small talk as well, because we've always had something to talk about, like what we've been doing in the game or with each other and person will normally start off by talking about the game and it'll just grow into normal conversation. A lot of inside jokes as well, and stuff like that.

Kenny Embry:

You've heard people talk about especially adults talk about the internet. What do you hear from people at church or parents? What do they say about the internet to you?

Jake:

I think in my personal experience, my parents, maybe even my father, has told me that I spend too much time on video games or on internet uses.

Jack:

I've gotten a lot of why don't you start making YouTube videos or something along those lines? And I just show Yeah, get a job kind of thing. So, by the way, good advice.

Kenny Embry:

What are they telling you the dangers the internet are?

Unknown:

I think the main one is just that it's a distraction, you shouldn't spend too much time on it. Like that's the, for the most part. I think a lot of sermons that are preached about the internet, are normally in a negative light. There's been some positive ones, but I think most of them are like that the internet is negative. And like he said, You shouldn't spend too much time online, like you can use it. But in moderation. Let me ask you, do you do you believe that? Do you think that's true? I think it's more on the side of how easy it is to access things on the internet of things more than spending time on it makes you addicted. Because at this point in my life, I think the internet is a lifestyle, not just entertainment, but school and other things along those lines. So just every day I use it. I think especially now, during these times where the worlds kind of shut down, the internet's become very helpful, like with school and church recently moved services into classes on the internet. So it's become very helpful. I think another thing is just that the internet is such a broad term for talking about anything if you say the internet, so I, I don't necessarily think it's fair to say like, you're spending too much time on the internet, when it's a very broad term. Like, you could consider like us just talking over PlayStation party as the internet. But I don't necessarily think that that's like, a bad use of the Internet.

Kenny Embry:

What do you guys think is a good use of the internet?

Casey:

I think talking to each other, or Playstation party has been a good use for us at least because it's definitely helped us become closer. And not just as like people playing games together. But like true friends. Like we've really become close. But it started with video games.

Dylan:

Yeah, I definitely agree with that, especially with like, breaking the tedium of school because it can like be a lot just like the every day coming home just doing work. It's a nice way to break that cycle where and it's also a good motivator or like I can come home, be motivated, do my work, knowing that I can just talk to my friends whenever I want once I am done. And that can help you stay motivated throughout like the entire school year.

Kenny Embry:

I think you're absolutely right, Casey, that when we start talking about the internet, you're painting with a really broad brush, because there are parts of the internet that are amazing. And there are parts of the internet that are really destructive. What do you think would be better advice?

Casey:

Just be careful with what you're doing on the internet rather than don't go on the internet. I think it's more helpful. I think for me, I'd like to be taught

Jake:

What's good on the internet instead of bad, so I feel more encouraged to use the good stuff. But I think when you're constantly told the bad stuff and told to stay away from the bad stuff, that's what's in your head. And like, that's what's fresh on your mind. So you start to be drawn toward the bad stuff.

Kenny Embry:

Do you guys ever look for spiritual things on the internet? I'd be honest.

Unknown:

No, not very often. Really? Not very. Oh, no, I'm not trying to embarrass you all. But why not? I think for me for a while, like, my spiritual stuff was at church. I don't think that's a great mindset to have. But anything spiritual I did was always at church. And that's so when I was at home. I guess I didn't want to like I don't I don't like to say that. But I just, I would just rather be looking at something else on the internet.

Kenny Embry:

Do you guys talk about spiritual things? In your game?

Unknown:

Yes, we have. We have Yeah, we have? We definitely. Yeah. Usually, we definitely have. I don't think it's the most our most consistent topic. But we definitely have before on multiple occasions.

Kenny Embry:

Let me ask you this. If the church or anybody who is a Christian, who was trying to reach you guys, how would they do that? I mean, you guys know the platforms that you guys use? And you guys knew what you're looking for on YouTube? Or what you're looking for on these on these platforms? How could they use these platforms to basically reach you guys,

Jack:

that's a really tough

Jake:

platform I use a lot, especially recently, it's been Twitch, which is a streaming platform. And I think, recently with our services going to live streams, I think, if they would have streamed on Twitch, my brain would just be like, oh, Twitch, I use that maybe I'd be interested to watch.

Kenny Embry:

Would you want to watch a sermon on twitch?

Jake:

I don't know. I think it's more the fact that it's Twitch, not necessarily the sermon, it's not that I want to watch Twitch is that I know I use that I know what it is. So I'm more interested in that than something else. I think it's more up to the individual. Most streams on twitch aren't like an organization. It's a single person streaming. So it's more of just like an influence thing. Like if a single person just like they would in real life. If they exhibit like Christian values while streaming, then it's going to reach more people than any like, official church organization ever could or would. Very smart Casey, what does that look like? I'm somebody who wants to reach you guys. I get a camera, I open a twitch account. And what am I saying? Honestly, for me, it's more over time kind of thing. Like most YouTubers are people who make videos constantly. I've noticed most of them definitely, are not the best people and they don't, they don't have the best mouth. And you can really, it really can tell when someone is a good person. Yeah, I definitely notice when like a YouTuber or streamer is like not using bad language.

Kenny Embry:

My guess is you're probably not going to tune into a sermon. Am I right? In that guy's?

Jack:

Yeah, you're right.

Unknown:

What would you tune into? Kind of like jack said someone who, it's kind of obvious that they follow our values, at least scientists have our religious beliefs, but just our life values. It's like, kind of like not using bad language. If you watch someone not using bad language, at least for me, as a Christian, it's more inspiring. It's almost encouraging. Yeah, more inspiring, because it's, it's obvious if there was a Christian group of gamers. Mm hmm.

Kenny Embry:

You laugh? Why?

Jake:

I think we laugh. Because just on YouTube and Twitch, that's not very common. At least it's not obviously common. They might be Christian and have Christian beliefs. But you can't just like tell from what they're doing.

Kenny Embry:

Can I make a really obvious observation here, guys?

Jake:

Huh?

Kenny Embry:

Basically, you guys are a band of Christians who are gaming.

Jake:

Oh, True.

Jack:

True.

Kenny Embry:

What do you think people who are older than you are? who keep on telling you about the dangers of the internet? What should they understand?

Jake:

I think a big thing they should understand is people are not going to stop using the internet anytime soon. So I think an important thing to realize is, if they're not going to stop using it, then we should teach them the good ways to use it instead of telling them how bad it can be.

Jack:

I think there's just a bit of a disconnect with older and younger people on the internet, because we've basically grown up with the internet. And older people haven't really used it to the extent we have a lot of older people probably don't even know half the platforms that we know, are half the people on the internet that we know. So it's really just, it feels like almost an outsider perspective, telling me what's wrong with the internet, even though I have more experience with the internet.

Casey:

When older people try to tell us about the dangers of, quote, the internet, well, the internet is just such a broad platform that it doesn't really do us any good to just talk about how bad the internet because it could just mean anything. It doesn't help us to say that the internet is bad when maybe we're using the internet to just talk to each other.

Kenny Embry:

Let me ask you this, how have you guys been worshiping lately?

Dylan:

Well, for me, because I broke my ankle knife have to worship at home, it's much more convenient. So the internet allows me to worship and a much easier way than I wouldn't be without it. So in that sense, it can be very good.

Casey:

I think now on this whole situation, with worshiping over the internet is almost like helpful to those people that maybe were criticizing the internet without really knowing because now they know that like we use the A lot of what we use the internet is the same type of thing that we're using the internet to worship for. So like, it's just a more convenient way to worship now with the whole global pandemic going on. Just like it's easier for us to talk over the internet, because we don't want to leave our house. It's it's like almost like parallel. And I hope that people will understand that now.

Kenny Embry:

What do you lose by not going to the building?

Jack:

Definitely a personal connection is being with people. I think a lot of leaving the church is the people and not being with the people definitely, as a disconnect, and it can cause some people to fall away. And well, I don't have to go because nobody will know if I log on to the stream or not. So yeah.

Kenny Embry:

So you see strengths and weaknesses both ways. Is that accurate?

Jake:

. Yes. I think kind of jack said with the people. A big thing we're taught in church is fellowship. And the only get that fellowship part at live services are live as in at the building, because you can't really talk to people online. So I think maybe that's something we should learn or hopefully try to do is because right now all we have is the sermon and the Lord's supper and then occasional singing. So we should try to have a social aspect if we're going to do it online. Like what?

Dylan:

I don't know,

Unknown:

twitch earlier, they have chat rooms. I mean, yeah, I haven't used it much, Casey would probably know more about it. But honestly, discord has fairly good chat rooms, from what I understand where you can like group off people since like, the congregation as a whole can't like all be in one chat room. that's unrealistic, and will just be too chaotic. So like, there, if we really wanted to, we could like find a way to be able to like divvy up people for a more social aspect, maybe like an in it, and a lot of time after service, so that we can still get that fellowship. Even if we are forced to stay at home and watch services, I think even something like zoom would be helpful for that. Like, even if you don't want the main service onto you have like a little zoom, chat room after services that opens up just for people to talk. Because like people are, that's the thing, people are missing the most from services at the building. So just help like this social aspect and the fellowship aspect.

Kenny Embry:

I'm guessing this is not any of your all's platforms. But I think one of the things you guys are describing is social media. And I'm guessing you guys aren't on Facebook, or you probably have an account, but you don't really use it. Do you see how social media might be useful here?

Jake:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, it gives you that social connection. I think a lot of people see social media as like a popularity contest. And I think that's kind of, that's what it's become. But I think you can still definitely use it just to have that social interaction via digitally.

Jack:

Definitely a double edged sword.

Jake:

I personally think social media, at least from what it's become has become more bad than good. But I don't think that necessarily means it's inherently more bad than good. I think it's a great idea because it gives you that social connection with people you can't see in person. But I think the way people have been using it, it's not great. I think it's so kind of makes it a double edged sword.

Kenny Embry:

Well, listen, guys, I really enjoyed this. This has been great. I really appreciate your insights on this. I think you guys probably represent an entire generation in more ways than you know. So I want to thank you guys for for doing this for me. I hope you enjoyed that conversation. I think one of the things which impressed me is how important they saw authenticity. They aren't searching for sermons, but they crave character They want people who act like Christians. And they found that in each other's company. I think they also understand the internet isn't going anywhere. And they'd love some guidance on how to use it. Well. I'm proud of these guys. And I really appreciate their perspective. Next week, I want to introduce you to a guy who's teaching ethical leadership in a podcast. It was a great conversation, and I'm excited to introduce you to him. So until next week, let's be good and do good.