Session 3b: Navigating a New Phygital world by Aaron Mamuyac

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Aaron. I say often I do a bunch of the nerdy stuff in the background at Sunlight Community Church. So that involves communications, websites, all that kind of stuff. It’s just all nerdy. Today I want to talk about the phygital world, how we have to understand that, what does it mean, what’s it doing to us and our response.That’s not it. I got to push it down.

Okay. So the run-up to COVID March 11th, 2020, the WHO declared COVID a pandemic, lockdowns were imposed, economies tanked, travels were shut down and all of us were stuck at home. And right now as a result, 203 million people are infected by COVID and connected tech became a normal part or a growing part of everyone’s life. This includes social media, e-commerce, streaming content, video games, significant growth over the last 12 months.

And so a little bit of statistics here. 7.8 billion people on the planet, 5.2 billion people own a smartphone, internet use is 4.6, and active social media users 4.2 out of the 7.8 billion people. That is more than half of the world’s population online. I mean just kind of run the statistics through your head that’s what’s happening.

Now, let me just get some context into technology before we get it all up to here because of a wide range of understanding of technology and our ages here. So it’s okay, I understand. Hold up your thumb everyone please, hold up your thumb. On your thumbnail this guy who’s Gordon Moore, CEO of Intel. The number of tech we could put on this size will double by the time next year. I don’t know if you guys remember this, but that our hard drives are getting smaller and smaller and they’re able to hold more capacity with that.

You could see everything here on 1991 Radio Shack ad, you’ve got a phone, you got CD player, you got all kinds of stuff. Speakers, computers, all of it now is on your phone. Very small, very compact and it’s faster, stronger than ever before. All of this whole page is just something that your phone can do, which is quite incredible. Now this is something that I’ve found is kind of old research. I’m going to build up the research here. The trend is headed towards the younger cell phone users more than a third of 10 through 11 year olds already have phones in 2009 and number has been steadily rising. Even six year olds are making progress. I can’t tell you them… You guys know your own family, your own kids, grandkids. They’re navigating these iPads, they’re navigating YouTube no problem. I have a one-year-old who could turn it on to YouTube Hakuna Matata.

She’s navigating with Alexa. She’s like, “Alexa.” And she’s saying, “Hakuna Matata.” So it’s quite interesting. I don’t understand how it’s working, but their mind is like a little computer. Nearly one in five kids use a mobile device every day. This is research based on 2013. And you can see here that they’re using it in schools at home and all that kind of stuff. Let me just update it with some recent research. 20% of one-year-olds have their own tablet and or computer. 28% of two year olds can navigate a mobile device without help. 92% of teens say they go on media daily, 24% of teens say they’re constantly online. If you don’t know that they’re putting ear pods in their ears and they’re putting a hood up and they’re just on media all the time. 88% have access to a smartphone. Here’s my main crux of it.

Oh, here’s some kind of the user rate of Facebook and different platforms that are used. Facebook is by far and away the largest that’s being used, Instagram and then Twitter and then it kind of all follows. And so these are just platforms that this is everyone… Everyone knows this, right? Maybe not the exact numbers, but we just kind of feel, “Hey, our congregation’s on Facebook, we need to do Facebook live.” You know we just kind of feel this kind of stuff. Here’s my premise. We’re not just in a phygital world we’re phygital natives. We have this ingrained in us that we are people who will take to YouTube for do sermon research. Or okay, how do I counsel someone? We’re going to take to YouTube to figure this out or whatever and Google and our accordance and our logoff software and all this kind of stuff.

This is all phygital, we’re natives. We understand this. As of 2020 because of COVID the average media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to about 180 minutes a day up from 142 minutes the previous year. This is about three hours, three hours a day people are on media, are on YouTube, some kind of consuming some kind of media. And so that was the first kind of premises that, “Hey, we are phygital natives here.” We’re in a phygital world, how do we navigate this?

And what are we connected to? We’re connected to culture. What is culture? Well, it’s probably like a nerdy definition of it would be the sum of philosophy, books, magazine, language, how you dress, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, transport, how money is spent, the cultural values, all that kind of stuff. So let’s play a game and we’re going to play the culture game that I like to play with a lot of people. I’m going to show pieces of culture and you tell me what is the worldview or value that’s expressed. We’re going to go fast because we don’t have a lot of time here. Everybody loves big breasts. This is a Carl’s Jr ad.

What are they using? Right? This is not rocket science. This is an advertisement. You know what I’m saying? Heck if you’re a kid, if you’re an adult, right? What is the cultural representation here? How about this one? It’s a car commercial. That something is linked intrinsically to your status or who you are. It’s a vehicle, it’s a car, it’s going to go down in like 10 years and stuff like that, it’s crazy. Here’s the next one. This is magazines that you could just go down to… I mean I’m from Florida. I call it [inaudible] Publix.

Guilt-free one night stands, sex toys, the best love advice I ever get. What is it that we’re being shaped into? Right? This phygital world it doesn’t have to be so over it just could be subliminal to us. Here’s some more recent stuff of 2020. This is a music video. Number one on the charts. It’s by Lil NAS X it’s called Montero. He talks about how he’s in the garden of Eden. He’s talking to the snake and he’s like Adam and Eve and he’s exploring his sexuality. And he descends down to hell where he gets judged by the gods. He gets send to hell. And he starts lap dancing on the devil and then he kills the devil and now he’s the devil. That’s the premise of the music video. What is that shaping our beliefs or worldviews?

Maybe it’s not shaping, maybe it’s just making us numb. And what does that do for us? What is the exposure to the phygital world? What does this do for us as pastors, as leaders, as church, anyone? Here’s another one. This is Netflix. If you turn on Netflix this will be number one on your picks because Netflix will push this out, Sex Life. It’s like the open story of adultery between these couples and stuff like that. And some very graphic images. I know lots of people are watching this. This is like current on Netflix right now. Here’s the last one. It’s not just media like media, all of it. News, political unrest, everyone’s opinion on everything basically. People are giving their worldview on a number of different topics here the top is goals, attitude, relationships, sex, authority, reality, and faith.

Everyone’s giving their opinion, their world views on all of these things. If it’s not music, it’s movies, it’s not movies it’s a post. Yeah it’s all that stuff. Jesus said out of the mouth the heart speaks now out of the music video the Snapchat, the Instagram, the Facebook post the heart speaks. Culture acts as a mirror and a map. It shows us who we are and where we’re going as a culture, as people. And so we have to ask what are the effects of this? Some of these effects one study shows from pew research there’s been skyrocket of mental health, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts have skyrocketed. The CDC put out a survey. Anxiety has increased by threefold, depression has increased by fourfold, increased alcohol consumption, increased drug abuse and 41% of the participants in the study report at least one mental health issue.

And they list some factors that we could agree or disagree with. Social isolation, domestic violence, closure to schools, unemployment, financial worries and threat of the disease itself. This is not just a health epidemic, but a societal epidemic that we find ourselves in. Not just the disease, but the results of disease. What does that all mean and reverberate for us. And so I’m going to ask a question. You guys maybe post this to talk about in your tables here, is that what does this much connection do? Are we connected to too much culture? Maybe even I heard someone put it like this that we might have a taste of what omniscience is with the internet. Knowing all things, seeing all things, omnipresence. Being everywhere at the same time. Our little brains connected can we handle that kind of stuff?

Can we handle the whole world’s depravity at our fingertips viewing it all the time? And what does that do for us? How does that shape us or not shape us? Not just us, but our congregations as well. We know this word [inaudible] is the spirit of the age. Got some other quotes here. As pastors and leaders of churches our job is to deconstruct or analyze… To show how the Bible presents life we must analyze how life is being presented today, deconstruct and rebuild in a biblical framework. All these messages that are coming at us that’s what we’re supposed to do. A couple of quotes from famous people. Every Christian needs to start their day with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. That’s Karl Barth. Psalm 11:3-4, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

We get all this bad news, we get all this contradictory worldview points, antsy Bible points. The Lord is on his holy temple, the Lord is on his heavenly throne. As Christians, as leaders we have no power apart from God. He’s the one who sits on the throne. He’s the one running the show here. We’re just participating. He’s the power. I mean this is something that we need to be reminding ourselves all the time otherwise we’re fighting a useless battle here. One of my favorite quotes here, there’s not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ who is sovereign overall does not cry, Mine. Everything, all things.

So here’s my proposed what do we do about it. We have to focus on our relationships. The phygital world is something that is like there’s all these voices coming to all of us, not just us, our kids, our grandkids, our parishioners, our congregation, there’s a whole bunch of that. But one thing I’ve noticed is that there could be a whole crowd of noise and people with megaphones yelling at us. But something more louder than a megaphone or a big crowd is a whisper into someone’s ear. And that to me is a relationship, but maybe I could make it more poignant is discipleship. Our marching orders aren’t go and make a YouTube platform, go and make a Facebook page. Let’s go and make disciples. This is something that we need to… This looks different for everybody right?

In a phygital world this is different for everyone’s context. But I know the marching orders is still true for everybody in here that we have to make disciples. This is how we spread, how we shoot off. This is contextually we’re looking at worldview context. Like what does someone think and how do they think about homosexuality, about their identity, their XYZ, their finances, their family? How do they think about that? The Bible has something to say about that and that’s where our discipleship comes into.

So here’s a question for the tables. How many people are you discipling? Do you know what discipleship means? Do you know how to disciple? Some honest questions. And if you do get discipling, here’s how I’m going to close that, it does take time. We got an hour a week with people on a Sunday morning. People are on the internet three hours on average a day, three hours a day versus our one hour a week. That’s where our relationship will overcome that. But it does take time. Sound travels slow. These things take very… It’s very, very slow, it’s very deliberate. And so bless you guys, bless your ministries, but just remember there’s patience in this game. So we’re in it for the long haul.

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