After seeing the latest trend pop up on social media, the Face App, I was reminded of the game I played whenever I went to my friend Becky's house growing up. It was called Lemmings. Lemmings is a puzzle-platformer video game that was popular in the early 90’s. The goal was to guide a certain percentage of the green-haired, blue-robed lemmings from the entrance to the exit by clearing or creating a safe passage through the landscape. They would sometimes break up , with the majority going in the same direction, marching in line following the leader. Sometimes they would make it to safety and sometimes they would follow each other off of a cliff.
I'm reminded that us humans may often resemble the robed lemmings of my childhood game. I find myself wondering who the leader of certain trends are and why people choose to follow first and ask questions later. I'm boggled by how fast the hype train takes off and builds momentum. Sometimes they start with an internet challenge with one famous person challenging another to do something and then we follow suit. In the case of FaceApp, Nbc News Confirmed this in an article stating, " FaceApp, a more than 2-year-old app created by a Russia-based developer, has seen a recent spike in use due to some celebrities and influencers taking part in the "FaceApp Challenge." We are not always influenced into doing sketchy things by celebrities and influencers, sometimes we are "influenced" for a good cause. I still wonder why we comply, why we participate. I do recognize it is entirely circumstantial and something we experience from a young age. Is it our need to fit in? Is it our desire to not be left behind? Are we genuinely amused or entertained? Do we not care enough to even wonder why we are doing something and just dive in? One thing I do find interesting, is that without a hefty amount of participants sharing, promoting, or participating many of these trends wouldn't get off the ground in the first place, so we are definitely a catalyst in my opinion.
All of these hype trains made me wonder. If we are so quick to run and watch the latest movie, download the latest game, or snap a selfie with the latest filter so we can join the masses and share it on social media... what will we do when false messiahs and false prophets come and claim to be Jesus?
I can hear some of you now, WOAHHHH Rainna ...that escalated quickly! Yeah I know, the question may convict you as it did me, but its a valid question. I'm not one to sugar coat or avoid heavy topics, but I honestly felt God asking me this question too and I was immediately reminded of these bible verses:
Matthew 24: 3- 5 in the (NIV)
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
Jesus Continues to educate us in Matthew chapter 24 : verses 23 to 26 by saying:
23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
When these warnings from Jesus come to fruition, I wonder how fast that internet trend will take off. Will we toss the advice of Jesus out the window and rush to see the False Messiahs and false prophets so we can post about it on social media? Will the FOMO start to set in and overpower any biblical advice we have been given, even by Jesus himself? I can't help but feel that these seemingly small rides on the hype train are practice runs. If we can’t fight off the feeling of FOMO over the most trivial of things, how will we hold up against the real thing? The bible says we are to be in the world but not of the world. That indeed is a balancing act, a balancing act we need to be aware of and continue to practice in my opinion.
Everytime I log into twitter I see a new hype train pulling out of the station. Some of the most recent being, The Avengers End Game, then Game of Thrones, Then Harry Potter Mobile game, Snapchat’s “gender swap” filter, Then the latest Season of Stranger things, now the FaceApp Aging Filter… I know the Hype will never fully end as long as are values match the worlds MORE than we value making wise choices and being informed. Don't get me wrong, somethings are just innocent fun and fandom and others not so much.
Another bible verse came to mind:
In Hosea 4:6 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lord warns us saying
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge...
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
A lot of times we still value being included even when we have been warned by credible sources, and that is the problem I feel is at the core of this. If we reject knowledge on a small scale, will we do it on larger scales?
With the latest boom of the FaceApp , many privacy concerns were brought to light, yet social media feeds continue to flow steady with geriatric FaceApp selfies. The fact that the app is a russian based app had many concerned with privacy risks too.
There has since been numerous articles and reports on these privacy concerns, one I read on Slate.com pointed out that : When you use the app, you grant the russia based firm Wireless Lab , a lot of rights. Those rights include a
“perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content … without compensation to you.”
The Slate article went further by pointing out, "that basically means FaceApp can do whatever it wants with your photos, according to New York Law School professor Ari Waldman who said “You retain copyrights and photos that you upload, but you grant them the opportunity to pretty much do anything they want with the photos that are stored on their servers,”
An Article in the New York Times also touched a bit on the fact that there is an increasing popularity of consumer apps from countries with authoritarian governments and that is something many feel we need to keep an eye on. The article went further by addressing these concerns by saying, “A good example is the China-based video giant TikTok, which the kids love and which has already paid fines to the F.T.C. over privacy violations related to illegally collecting information from said children.”
So often we overlook the small print and the user agreements when we sign up for mobile games and apps and social media sites, but what user agreements are we over looking in our Christian life? Are we learning where the devil may be hiding in the details? Are we going to use the knowledge we are given in user agreements and the bible to make educated decisions, so we are not destroyed by our lack of knowledge? I feel these are little hurdles we have to be able to jump over. A testing ground. If we can’t fight the FOMO over a dumb selfie filter we were warned over and over again not to use, how will we stand up against false prophets and messiahs? You may feel that is a stretch or you may actually see the correlation. Are we being groomed to follow the flow? Should we use these situations to test our ability to not follow the world? As followers of Jesus Christ, I think we can all agree Jesus did not follow the flow. The only FOMO I have is the Fear Of Missing Out of our heavenly advice because I was too busy following the world.
I will end this Daily Bread with a bible verse that made it to me in an interesting way. My 6 year old daughter book marked Psalms 4 in my husbands bible this weekend during Church. I shared this daily bread with him before he left for work yesterday. He took his bible to work and thought he would read where our daughter had marked off and it was Psalms 4. As he started to read he instantly knew this bible verse was heaven sent and definitely belonged in my daily bread , and I couldn't agree more.
Psalm 4:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
2 How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood?
If we are going to ride any hype train Brothers and Sisters, let it be a hype train for Jesus!