The Most Un-Entertained, Entertained People Ever…And Why

PRESENT-DAY AMERICANS ARE THE MOST OBESE, LEAST ATTENTIVE, MOST DEPRESSED, MOST UNHAPPY, MOST BORED PEOPLE IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY. 

Check out these statistics:

SOCIAL MEDIA:

  • One in every 9 people in the world is on Facebook. [1]
  • 700 billion minutes per month are spent on Facebook worldwide. [2]
  • 190 million tweets per day worldwide. [3]

MEDIA AS A WHOLE:

  • A study performed in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average 8-18 year old spent a total of a 7:38 (7 hours and 38 minutes) on media (tv, video games, music, computers, print, and movies). Considering much of the time we interact with media we multitask (even though it is not possible to truly “multitask”) the total amount of time spent on media totals 10 hours and 45 minutes per day. [4]
  • That means we spend is over 53 hours per week, and roughly 113 days per year on some form of media.
  • Media usage is up 17% from the same study performed in 2004. [5] At this rate, in roughly 30 years, we will spend more time on media than we have hours in a day.

MONEY:

  • Americans spent 10.7 trillion dollars shopping last year [6]…that is enough money to buy 2000 air craft carriers and 300 private islands (with change to spare), purchase 1776 professional football teams, cure the world’s hunger…35 times over, or buy 225 billion #5 meals from Chick-fil-a (with Chick-fil-a sauce and extra Ketchup).

I believe we can conclude from these statistics that we are an entertained people. We have more at our fingerprints than ever before. But are we actually entertained? Here is the other side of the coin…

THE SAD FACTS OF OUR CULTURE TODAY:

  • Media usage and grades in school are inversely related. Basically, the more time you spend consuming media, the worse your grades will be. [7]
  • Most experts will agree depression, anxiety, unhappiness, and obesity rates are all increasing. [8]
  • 1 out of 4 have or will suffer with some form of depression in their lifetime. [9]
  • 70% of Americans are overweight, one-third of Americans are obese, and obesity as a whole has tripled since 1980. [10]
  • Our average attention span is 8 seconds, which is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. [11]
  • 98% of high school students today experience boredom in school everyday. [12]
  • People have not always been bored. Did you know the word “bored” did not appear in English until the middle of the 1800s? In many cultures today, the word is not even recognized or understood. Strangely, this is about the same time entertainment started evolving in our culture. [13]

Do I have your attention yet? If not, hold on…Here is the premise of this post:

Our attachment to media and entertainment is driving us away from God. Media and entertainment WILL be the ultimate demise of Christianity in this country.

Think about it. As a minister, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard phrases like, “Worship went too long today. The preacher needs to cut down his sermon. The worship was boring.” People jokingly come up to preachers regularly and make comments about how long they are preaching. They do this jokingly, of course, which makes it ok (but we all know the comments we make in a joking manner are comments we actually believe to be true).

True story…after preaching one Sunday, a man told me if I ever wanted to be a successful preacher, I needed to keep my sermons to 15 minutes. He informed me that people cannot stay focused for longer than that. He said content was not as important as length. He then proceeded to compare my long sermon to Bill Clinton’s long speech at the Democratic National Convention this past year. Probably the only time my name and Bill Clinton will ever appear in the same sentence. I was honored.

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But hold on a second? Do we really have an attention problem or do we have another problem? Let’s talk about it. We will arrive at our favorite football team’s game three hours before kickoff, watch the entire game, then drive three hours home. No attention problem there. We will sit in front of our television sets for hours upon hours and watch entire seasons of the Office or Lost or whatever else. No attention problem there. Many people can play video games for an entire day.

We struggle to spend time with our wife and kids, and we struggle to make it to work, and we struggle to stay awake during worship, but we do not struggle to play video games for an entire day. We will pay drive to the local movie theater, sit there for 2-3 hours and never move. We will leave talking about how entertaining and how amazing the movie was. No attention problem there. What about the time we spend on social media? Many of us can spend hours a day on scrolling through a Twitter or Facebook feed. No attention problem there. We seem to be focused and attentive in others arenas of life, but our worship is always too boring and we are too busy to spend time with God.

Here is what I contend: we do not have an attention problem, we have a priorities problem. Greater than that, we have a needs problem. We are so consumed with entertainment and media that we have turned into a people that have no real desire for God. Oh, we still fill church buildings and we try not to cuss or cheat on our spouse or have sex before marriage, but we have no desire to grow in intimacy with the Creator of the universe. There is a God who showed His desire for your reconciliation by sending His only son to the cross, yet we struggle through worship and complain about the length of sermons.

We spend little or no time in intimate settings with God. We praise people that spend time every day reading the Bible. We think people are really good Christians if they pray everyday. Bible plans today consist of reading one chapter per day because anything more is asking too much of God’s people. We are just too busy. REALLY? Is this where we are as a people? We are too busy to commune with the God of the Universe for more than 5 minutes? No wonder we feel so far away from God. We are not too busy to watch an entire season of our favorite show or spend hours on a gaming console or watch our favorite football team or spend hours on social media. I love what John Piper tweeted recently:

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

I am not going to lie…that one stings because it is true. I have so much time throughout the day to spend with God and draw close to Him, but I choose to spend that time turning myself into a vegetable by watching hours of tv. I have time to learn more about the truths of God’s word and allowing the word of God to mold and shape my life, but I would rather check out what Billy or Joe has posted on Facebook or Twitter. We are bored when it comes to God, but we are entertained when it comes to everything else. We do not have an attention problem. We have a priorities problem. We have a needs problem.

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In the mid nineteenth century, A. W. Tozer made the following statement in an essay entitled, “The Great God Entertainment,”

The present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. [14]

Keep in mind, Tozer made this statement before the existence of cell phones, game consoles, social media, and televisions with hundreds of channels. I cannot imagine what he might say if he were with us today?!

Now, I understand there is nothing inherently evil about social media or television or movies or sports. But let’s stop playing games and ask ourselves the difficult questions.

Am I really too busy to spend intimate time with God?

If all forms of entertainment were taken away, would God be enough?

Does the time I spend with God reflect that I really do not value an intimate relationship with Him?

How much time do I spend with God as opposed to social media, tv, gaming, movies, etc.?

How might my life be different if I became more intentional about spending time with God?

Do I get more excited about watching the latest season of my favorite show, going to watch my favorite team, or going shopping than I do about spending time with God? Does this reveal a problem?

In Ecclesiastes 1:2, Solomon says, “Everything is meaningless.” If you read Ecclesiastes, you will find a man that is searching for something, anything, to provide joy and peace and a sense of worth. He is certain something “under the sun” will fill the void. He tries it all. Women. Laughter. Disciplines. Materialism. Ultimately he concludes everything is meaningless. It is all garbage. He concludes Ecclesiastes by saying the ONLY thing that matters is to fear God and obey His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

What if Solomon figured something out hundreds of years ago? What if Solomon was right? What if the only important thing in this life is that we fear God and obey Him? What if we believed our sense of worth and joy and peace could only be found in God who created us? Maybe our restlessness would decrease. Maybe our joy would increase. Maybe depression, anxiousness, stress, worry, and obesity would decrease. Who knows? Maybe we would be more entertained.


[1] Jeff Bullas, “20 Stunning Social Media Statistics Plus Infographics,” http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/09/02/20-stunning-social-media-statistics/ (accessed April 25, 2014).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Kaiser Family Foundation, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds, http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/8010.pdf (accessed April 25, 2014.)

[5] Ibid.

[6] Lucas Reily. “By The Numbers: How Americans Spend Their Money,” http://mentalfloss.com/article/31222/numbers-how-americans-spend-their-money (accessed April 25, 2014).

[7] Kaiser Family Foundation.

[8] Christ Iliades, “Stats and Facts About Depression in America,” http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/major-depression/depression-statistics.aspx (Accessed April 28, 2014).

[9] http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics (Accessed April 25, 2014).

[12] Jeanna Bryner, “Most Students Bored At School, http://www.livescience.com/1308-students-bored-school.html (Accessed April 25, 2014).

[13] Winifred Gallagher, New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change (New York: Penguin, 2011), 126.

[14] Aiden Wilson Tozer, The Best of A. W. Tozer Book One (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007), 128.

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