Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Culture Crash: Racy Profiling

There are a lot of Christians who have their finger on the pulse of North American popular culture, trends, entertainment news, cutting edge technologies, and the like. They know who's who, what's what, where to shop for the best high tech toy at the best price, and all that sort of thing. These are people who have the time to invest in that sort of thing, and they offer a great service to the rest of the Christian community by doing what they do.

I however, am not one of those people. I don't have time or the ability to do those things, because I have a lot of laundry, grocery lists to make, kids to teach, and things to dust. In no way am I minimizing the work I do as a stay at home mom/homeschool teacher. I'm simply saying that my role is much different than someone else's role - and that due to the nature of the work I do, I just don't have time for other things. I don't watch daytime tv, since daytime is when we're in school. I don't watch the vast majority of prime time tv, since the vast majority of it repulses me as a Christian. I have intentionally limited my "exposure" to pop-culture because instead, I fill my time with more wholesome things. Some would argue that this is sticking my head in the sand, while others would point out that wallowing in filth only makes one filthy. Everyone has to make the right choices for them, and this is the right choice for me.

Quite often, I'll read something in the news or hear about something that is either setting a trend in pop culture, or in some other way influencing the way young people think about a variety of morality/lifestyle issues. I read one such thing today and while I was not in the least surprised by it, I was indeed repulsed by it.

In a recent article on the changing dynamics within the structure of young, homosexual marriage, Albert Mohler wrote:
"We are living in the midst of vast cultural change. It is almost as if an entire civilization is being transformed before our eyes." (source)

I would go a step further than Mohler and say it's not "almost" as if, but rather it simply is.

What I read this morning is likely old news to some people, but as I stated earlier, I don't follow pop culture and I'm sure there are a lot of things going on within it, that I am completely ignorant of (and truthfully, that's not always such a bad thing). In brief, I read a news blip about a pop culture bi-sexual icon who is a self-made celebrity, mostly via her website. In short, she posted all kinds of sleezy pictures of herself in various stages of undress, and both men (of all ages) and women (and teenage girls) flocked to her site to be her "friend". Without linking to her page or giving her name, I will simply say that even with safe-search filtering for explicit images on, google will display pictures of this young woman that I wouldn't want my kids (or my husband) to see. Obviously it's time to upgrade the filter to the most strict level, since nearly nude pictures of people are not something I want flashing onto my screen when my kids often read over my shoulder as I work or read online.

The thing is, the way this young woman is posed in the pictures google flashed on my screen, reminded me of pictures of young women I see ALL the time on various social networking sites. Young women and teenage girls of all ages and from all walks of life, setting up their own photoshoots to make themselves appear alluring, desirable, beautiful and sexy. From elaborate backgrounds to barely-there clothing options, to intentional poses and facial expressions, and A WHOLE LOT of photoshop editing going on - the whole picture is a set-up, to get attention. Sadly, some of the girls who do this are girls I know in real life (you know, offline, not some phoney screen-name "friend" you wouldn't know if you walked right past on the street), and I know for a fact that what they look like in real life, is NOTHING like that they pretend to be online, or what photoshop magically transforms them into. (I work with photoshop every day, I can spot an edit a mile away).

The girls who do this, do it for one reason: attention. They want to feel and look beautiful, and they want others to compliment them on their picture. It's a real ego builder, and they feed on it. Truthfully, anyone would.

The saddest thing is, that they seek this kind of attention in the first place in this way and that they GET it, in all the wrong ways. They've convinced themselves that being themselves just isn't enough, so they have to go the extra mile and take/create these kinds of pictures of themselves and post them for all to see.

I've known for a long time that the internet, used wrongly, can be a most addictive and destructive tool in the lives of many people. More and more, it just proves itself out. More and more I shake my head in disbelief that some day (very soon) I'm actually going to have to talk to my 10, 9, 7 and 4 year old kids and actually have to say "no, taking your clothes off for internet profile pictures is VERY bad thing, and here's why".

You would think that such conversations would never truly need to take place. Apparently, since all you have to do is cruise through any "social networking" site to see it for yourself, these conversations haven't taken place often enough.

Yes indeed, it IS a matter of an entire civilization that HAS transformed before our very eyes. God help us to live and love in a righteous and moral and modest way, and raise our kids to run far & fast from these destructive and demoralizing pop cultural trends, and trendsetters.


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