Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see…
Once your brain is finished singing, let’s discuss something important, it’s ok I’ll wait….
These lyrics hit home hard for many of us. Maybe it’s because it’s a really catchy tune. Maybe it’s because we have important memories tied to this song. Or maybe it’s because they speak to us about something we all crave, a real life.
Having been through almost 20 years of social media now, it’s almost hard not to be cynical about people being fake online. We’ve had Finstas, Catfishing, bots, people that buy friends and followers to make themselves look famous, the list goes on. The more sophisticated we get with technology the more that we try to deceive each other.
Now the pushback is happening. People want a more “real” experience online. Apps like BeReal, the Instagram Candid Challenge, TikTok now and others will become more and more popular as we try and get back to “real life”.
But I’m sure many of you as parents have the same question as I do. Is that even possible? Can we have a truly “real” life online? Can our kids really enjoy everything this world has to offer while being glued to a screen?
The University of Queensland has said that the average Australian teenager spends 1.6 hours per day on social media. That’s over 11 hours per week, 48 hours a month, and 584 hours or 24 days a year. While that is not nearly as bad as the 7+ hours per day that American teenagers spend on their phones, it can still cause us to worry about how much “real life” our kids are missing out on.
The problem is that if we get rid of social media and smartphones altogether there’s the FOMO effect. And boy is this real for our kids. If they don’t have social media or a phone, they can be pushed to the bottom of the social food chain. They can miss out on inside jokes, not find out about social events that are planned by their peers, or even just miss out on having a deep connection with their friends, as the more time you spend talking with someone, whether in person or online will naturally build a stronger bond.
Our kids are caught between a rock and a hard place. Their decision is either being locked into their phones or being locked out of their social life.
This mentality is perfectly captured by the Young and Free song “Best Friends.” It goes like this,
I don’t want to be on my phone but I can’t be alone
Welcome to the modern way
I’m trying to be somebody I’m not but it’s not what I want
Tell me there’s another way…
All of my best friends are sick of pretending
We want the truth
So much is missing
So give us the real thing…
Can you hear the cry of a desperate young person who just wants a more “real” life?
Interestingly, this is exactly what Jesus offers each one of us. Listen to what he says in John 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Isn’t that what all of us are looking for? A rich and satisfying life. A “real” life. But how do we get it? Is it through a new app like BeReal? Or is it by chasing experiences out in the “real world”?
The song continues,
So give us the real thing
I know it’s You
Whether our kids are online or not is not the “real” issue. It’s not about an app or an experience but a relationship. If we want our kids to have “real” life the only way to get it is to get to know Jesus, the one true God.
John 17:3 says, And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth
In my job as a Pastor I love seeing people come alive when they get to know Jesus. I have seen it again and again. I hope and pray that you can know this “real” life with Jesus today.
Isaiah Logan, College Pastor
Terminology:  fake instagram accounts  the process of luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona  automated programs that look like social media accounts, usually used to like and follow other accounts and posts to artificially boost numbers. BeReal is an app that sends a notification once per day that gives the user 2 minutes to send a picture from both their front and rear-facing cameras at the same time.