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Rob Singleton: Overliked: Crippled by Social Media

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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August 4, 2022 2:00 am

Rob Singleton: Overliked: Crippled by Social Media

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 4, 2022 2:00 am

Social media can do a lot of goodâ€"yet hamstring authenticity. Rob Singleton, author of Overliked, builds out a new way of thinking about social image.

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I found myself trying to be something else, trying to be other than how God shaped me and made me. And how's that any different than filtering a picture? How's that any different than writing a bio of yourself that's really not you in any way, shape, or form?

It's what you think people want you to be, and it's what you think will get you a lot of likes. And so if I could do that as a pastor, if I could get caught up in that, it just scared me. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So I just learned something recently that I should have known, but I didn't know before about how our brain works. Oh, I like these conversations. So I'm going to ask you a question, see if you can answer this. Our brain, actually, we get a dopamine hit every time blank happens. Fill in the blank. Every time a husband cleans the house.

Of course you're going to go to marriage. I'm sure it has something to do with— Well, the wife may get a dopamine hit, but the husband doesn't. How's that work? Oh, all of us. I'm thinking it probably has something to do with our phones or social media or something. Well, here's what I just learned, and we're going to talk to the author who wrote the book that I read this in. But we get a dopamine hit when we get liked on social media. Facebook posts, a thumbs up, a like, more followers, you name it. Anything that I didn't know.

I mean, I know it feels good, but I didn't know it actually lights up your brain in a way. We've got Pastor Rob Singleton in the Family Life Studio with us today. You've never been here before, have you, Rob? No, it's an awesome place. Yeah, so welcome to Family Life Today. Man, thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Flew into Orlando all the way from Centennial, Colorado. Actually, you guys, you and Michelle live where my middle son Austin and Kendall live, which you didn't know that, right? So now we're going to be friends. Every time we come to Parker, we're going to— Oh, I look forward to it.

And I will stalk you, so you better— Oh, good. But I think that's interesting because it really shows that all of us long to be affirmed. If we get dopamine hits from likes, it just shows we are kind of wired to be affirmed. Right. And I want to talk to you, Rob, about that whole idea because you wrote a book that we're talking about today called Overliked.

So obviously, from the title, that can be a good thing, and it can also be too much, right? Overliked? Yeah, it's not a word in the Urban Dictionary. We're working on it.

It's not a real word, but it used to be. It's going to be there? Yeah. Well, I love the subtitle, Finding Direction, Courage, and Meaningful Relationships in a Society Crippled by Social Media. Yeah. Okay, so where to start?

Why did you decide to write about this concept of being overliked? You know, I came up with this analogy a little while ago because of something that happened to us. We bought this house, and do you guys remember the synthetic stucco homes? Probably 20, 25 years ago, there were a lot of promises that went with these style houses, and a lot of them were true. The insulation is so good. They'll lower your heating bill. They'll lower your air conditioning bill and the greatest things, the sliced bread. So people were buying these houses in droves.

They're pretty expensive. And about three, four years into it, especially where it's really humid, like Florida. Florida had a lot of damage. The sealant was so good, and they'd put styrofoam by the wood, the framing. And it was so good that whenever it rained, the moisture could get in there, but it couldn't get out. And so all these wonderful promises, yes, you did have lower heating costs and lower air conditioning, but the price to rebuild your house once it rotted from the inside was causing billions of dollars of lawsuit. And we were one of them.

We had to literally reframe part of it when we went to sell the house. And I thought, man, they had some pretty high promises, lofty promises. And they've done some adjustments, and now it's a good product again. But I thought social media is like that. It came out of the gate.

I remember when it came out of the gate. Probably 20 years ago, you had your first MySpace. Yeah, MySpace. Our kids still got a MySpace.

We were like, what are you doing? What is MySpace? That was the 90s, right? 90s?

Maybe even, yeah, early. And I did a spoof boy band Christian spoof thing on there. The thing about MySpace is it's out there.

You can't get rid of it. I hope nobody ever finds that boy band thing. It was just a joke if you find that thing. Oh, that makes me want to go searching for it.

It was pretty cheesy. Well, I mean, even when you think of your title, you know, over like, I mean, we all want to be liked. So there's nothing wrong with that.

But where does it go sort of south? Well, I mean, that's part of the promises. The promises are you're going to connect. You're going to find more friends than you ever dreamed of.

If families moved away, you can talk with them anytime you want. Then there were some other promises that I don't even know why these ever sounded good. Here's one. Instant feedback. That's a promise. I thought, wow, that'd be great.

Really think about that. Is that great? Exactly. It's great when you get something positive. But how about instant, you know, feedback like you're a loser.

That was stupid. Well, I mean, so I think a lot of pastors, I think a lot of everybody, including I think New York Times did a story on Facebook about a year ago, how much damage it was doing to young girls who were, and Instagram, who were getting their self-image and wondering what isn't coming back positively. This is how serious it can get, you know, lonely, detached, even suicidal, even suicides, especially in young gals. So to say the wheels are coming off of these great promises is kind of an understatement, but they're still good. One of the first things I say in there is that I'm not anti-technology at all. I'm just pro-authenticity. You know, God wants the real you to come out, not some manufactured version you put out there, you know, because you think it's what people want.

It's what they want to see. And so you're, as you're writing this and sort of studying this, I mean, we watched early in the pandemic. You can now timeline your whole life based on pre-pandemic, you know, it's like 15 days to end the spread. Right.

And now here we are almost two years later. But I think it was early pandemic, the Social Dilemma movie came out. Did you see that? Yeah. Yeah. Which was sort of what you're saying.

It's like, here's the good, but if you're not careful, this desire to be liked and affirmed, which is a natural good thing, can really lead you to trouble. So you have to navigate that whole thing. Yeah. I did a series called Beyond the Optics probably nine or 10 years ago following this whole thing, even when it was relatively new, I could see some of the dangers. So obviously I didn't see that special until probably about a year ago. But it was pretty affirming. I mean, when I watched that, I thought, wow, here's a secular, you know, media company putting out these dangers and all. And yeah, you could see anybody was honest, they could see that coming. Yeah.

Well, one of the things you talk about is what is real. And some of your stats, I was astounded by. First, 60% of the world's population has a cell phone. That's not surprising. While 90% of millennials engage regularly in social media. That's a lot.

And then 22% say they have no friends at all. Yeah. Yeah. Were you surprised by that?

That last part I was. Yeah, me too. Who would keep, you know, pushing those buttons and keep going after it when at the end of the day, they're saying this hasn't delivered at all.

I have no friends. And yet it can draw you in so much that, I mean, you ever do something that promised to deliver something and when it doesn't, you just try harder. Yeah. You just push even more and you go, wait, what's the definition of insanity?

Yeah. Doing the same thing over and over. We're doing that with social media. We're thinking it's not working for me, but it works for Kim Kardashian. You know, so obviously it works. Let me just try harder. And, you know, it's even more detrimental the harder you push in. Do you think we're thinking we will feel less lonely, but as a result, we are more lonely for our teens and kids? Yeah, I mean, we're waiting for it to deliver on a promise it can't keep.

It can't keep that promise. And there's some real biblical implications, and I get into that tracking the life of King Saul and the life of King David because that's what I did in that series years ago, the Beyond the Optics. You know, optics has become a real big word. Here's where it really took off. Maybe eight, nine years ago, somebody would say something and then cancel culture would start to come along in the early days and go, hey, man, did you really think about the optics of what you just wrote? And what they're saying is, did you really think about where this is going, what this could lead to, you know, you being canceled before cancel culture was even a thing. But what they're saying is you just put out, and it could be a photo, it could be a paragraph, it could be you just put something out, the optics of which could ruin you.

When you should be putting out something, the optics of which will make people like you, will get you those returns or those thumbs up or whatever. And then I thought, wow, optics are powerful, but they're really shallow. That's why we did this 10-week series on the life of King Saul and King David, which is Beyond the Optics. The whole idea is that King David, he lived beyond the optics because he lived from the heart. And King Saul lived for nothing but optics.

Everything for King Saul was, how do I look? How popular? How are the songs going? How are the poems going? How's the social media of thousands of years ago?

How's the feedback? I'm not getting likes since this guy David came along. He got way more likes. Yeah, it's really an old story of how powerful this people-pleasing thing can be even when you have no social media. So what I'm trying to say is that introduce social media and this age-old problem, and I mean age-old like Garden of Eden old, is on steroids.

I mean, it's just magnified so much with social media. I remember preaching on that in my church years ago. That whole thing, I don't know where it is in Samuel.

I think it's in Samuel where it says Saul killed thousands, but David killed tens of thousands. The song. Yeah, and I said the women sang this song. So I went over to the piano in the middle of my sermon. Here it is. Did you?

He's going to pull out his guitar. I remember I just like, well, they said it was a song. So I said, you know, I went back into Hebrew and I figured out what they were saying. It was like, Saul killed his thousands, but David ten thousands, all the women said, David, you're the man. You're the man. Saul killed his thousands, but David ten thousands, all the women said, David, you're the man. Then I made all the women, you're the man, David, you're the man. David. No, you're the man. David, you're the man. I say that every day anyway, David. David, you're the man. Anyway, that's Optics, right?

That's absolutely it. Never heard it put that way, but yeah, that's Optics. That's how it was in the original, but I mean, it is true because in some ways we value Optics more than authenticity, like what's real.

We want to project an image. This is who I am. This is who my family is. This is what my marriage looks like, even though it may not be authentic to what's really happening, but man, it seems like our world values the visual. This is what I hope is real.

You call it Optics. And yet, Dave, here's the crazy thing is the millennials and Gen Z, what they're longing for is authenticity. What they're longing for is authenticity. Like when they're longing for us to be real. So you're laughing.

Why is that? Because they're filters, the greatest filter of any generation has ever lived. I mean, they can smell inauthenticity ten miles away. And yet, and I hate to say it, the ironic thing is that they're getting caught up in this more than anyone so they can see it in everybody else, but it's hard as ever, if not more so, for them to see it in themselves.

It's how big of a trap this is. And maybe that's why they long for it so much because as consumers, they're living a world that isn't real. So they're longing for people to be real. So as you looked at this whole phenomenon, you're like, I got to write a series as a pastor, so you're doing 10 weeks on this and now writing a book to say, I want to say what about this? Well, you know, I wrote the series when I was still at a pretty large church in North Carolina, and it's what happened after that series to me personally that made me turn it into a book.

And that's because I got caught up in it myself. People came to town. I remember when we first started this church, there were eight people in our living room, and it grew. And it grew to a couple campuses and thousands of people, and so many people were getting saved, and it was a joy and a blessing to pastor these people. Then a couple other churches came to town, but they blew up.

They grew. And I think what I got caught up in is, you know, maybe I need to do a little bit more of what they're doing. Maybe I need to preach a little more this way. So here's what I'm doing. I found myself trying to be something else, trying to be other than how God shaped me and made me. And how's that any different than filtering a picture? How's that any different than writing a bio of yourself that's really not you in any way, shape, or form?

I think people want you to be, and it's what you think will get you a lot of likes. And so if I could do that as a pastor, if I could get caught up in that, I thought, you know, spending my time with the Lord in the morning, just really pressing in. I could still get caught up. It just scared me. It scared me because social media was growing, you know, at such a rapid pace.

And this was, like I said, about 10 years ago. God put a burden on my heart to sort of write a book that's almost futuristic. But I think going through it myself and realizing that absolutely anybody and everybody can get caught up in this. Well, you talked about how you saw the effects after you did this series. What were people talking about?

What happened? It was a great thing because I saw a little mini revival, really. I mean, when we did the series, it was still fresh enough and young enough but obvious enough for people to hear this and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. And I saw a lot of changes with people in the church. I think they saw a lot of changes with me. And people were more interested in really knowing God and spending time with God and spending time with one another in their small groups and authentic relationships. And so I felt good. You know, I felt like this was getting people back to authentic relationships and deeper meaning.

But, you know, a few years later, I'm wrestling with it again. I mean, this is almost like I forget where in the Bible, I forget the exact verse where it said that sin is crouching, waiting. God said it to Cain, and that hasn't changed. Sin is always crouching, always waiting. You feel like you can defeat something and really put it in perspective.

But if you're not staying and abiding in the Lord, John 15, and really staying connected daily, it's right there waiting. And I think we can do it in our marriages and family as well. You know, it's like the optics of you're comparing your church or you as a pastor to another pastor down the street that seems to be having great success or great fruit. We do the same thing. I mean, we've said it here many times for decades in my marriage and kept wanting me to be like the founder of family life, Dennis Rainey. I heard it every day. Why can't you be more like Dennis?

Because every wife wants you. Exactly. I don't think I said it. I just alluded to it. Every once in a while, I felt it, you know, because she said it a few times. But there was a part of me that started to think, I've got to lead Ann. I've got to be in our family like Dennis is and his family. Of course, all we know about Dennis is from a distance, so it looks much more perfect than he would even say it was. But I felt that tension.

The optics look like this. The reality is this. I need to be somebody I'm not.

Did you struggle with that? Oh, my goodness, yeah. I mean, I think back before. I think about the days going to the Purpose Driven Conference with Rick Warren. Rick Warren, sure. And I mean, he will tell you right out of the gate, hey, don't go back home and try to do this, and you're not Rick Warren. Remember when he used to say, when you get to heaven, God's not going to say, why weren't you more like Billy Graham? He'll say, why weren't you more like yourself? That really stuck with me, because in saying that, he's saying, why weren't you more authentically you, the one that I created you to be?

Still, I heard that, and I found myself going back, trying to preach like Rick Warren. And these were the real early days when you're really trying to find out who you are anyway. And I thought, well, some of that can be an excuse, and you're trying to learn, but it can very quickly turn into, you know, you're not developing the gifts God gave you. You're not going deeper into who you are, because it's just too easy to imitate somebody else. You know, your listeners might hear that and go, well, I'll keep that in mind. That's a trap. It's much more dangerous than just a casual thing. You can live your life as somebody else.

And what a tragedy that would be, to stand before God and not be who you're supposed to be. Yeah. I'm just thinking with social media, it's so easy just to get lost in it.

You know, you're scrolling, you're liking. And I just was listening to Christy McClellan. We've had her here. She's a great Bible teacher. I heard her encouraging a younger woman in discipleship saying, I would challenge you to spend more time in God's word in growing spiritually than you do in social media. She said this to a teenage girl. And as I listened to that, I thought, what would that look like for all of us?

Like, think about how easy it is just to be done at the end of the day, and you're so tired. What do we do? We'll sit down and watch a show or we'll watch Netflix.

Tiger King. No, we didn't watch that. Or we're just on our screens, you know, because we're tired. But I thought, wouldn't it be interesting if we gauge the amount of time we spend on social media? We gauged it on how much time we've already been in the word, and we wouldn't spend more time in social media than we had in the word. We would be different, you guys.

Put a timer on it. I'm not kidding. I remember going through that working out where I thought, why do I always get a workout in, but I always don't get my time with God in? That's a fair question.

That's a good one to ask. Yeah. And they're both good, but the better would be spending time with God. So now I'm spiritually strong, but fatter. But I'm just saying, like, we are all going to drift away from God if we don't spend more time with Him, and we find out who we truly are the more time we spend with Him. Rob, is that how you win this battle?

Is it a time thing? That's Dave and Ann Wilson with Rob Singleton on Family Life Today. We'll hear his response in just a minute. Ever wonder about where that line is in between what's constructive criticism and words that tear down? I love what Ann has said. She said, How many times have I used my words to tear Dave down and to destroy him thinking I was helping him and doing good, when all the time I had this power of influence to be able to speak life into him?

Wow. Could your relationship use a shift toward using words to respect and cherish each other? Well, then check out our marriage studies at and use the code 25OFF to save today and beef up your communication so your marriage becomes more life-giving to both of you.

Again, use the code 250FF. All right, now back to Dave and Ann's conversation with Rob Singleton. I always land the plane on the runway of spending more time with Jesus. You know, it doesn't matter what I'm preaching about, it's going to end up there. And as I go through the Gospels, I thought, wow, we are overcomplicating this.

I mean, if you really look at the 24-7 three years that Jesus spent with his disciples, it was all about spending time with him. If you do, eventually the Lord's going to rub off on you. Yeah. I don't remember signing up for this, but every morning this thing pops up and, you know, once a week at least, it pops up and says you spent, I don't know, five hours a day. It's the scariest thing ever.

Where's it coming from? You know, when it comes up, does it come up for you? It came up every Sunday morning while I'm at church. I'm getting ready to go up on stage and preach and I look down and I'm like, I didn't need to know that. I just spent, you know, 36 more minutes this week than I did last week, which was seven hours.

I mean, it's depressing, but it is a good indicator. If you want to be honest, and this is about authenticity, if that pops up and says you're averaging four hours a day or something and you tell everybody, I don't have a problem. I maybe spend 30 minutes.

No, you don't. You spend four hours a day. How many hours? Well, how many minutes did you spend in the Word? How many minutes did you spend?

And if they are not on the same planet, you're going to have a problem. Hey, you know what? What's shaping you? Do it right now. No.

Let's find out. I don't even know where to go. Go to settings. I don't have my phone. Oh, look at you. I don't have my phone.

Settings. Look down there. You'll see screen time.

Screen time. Yeah, see it? All right. Down.

You go first. Daily average. You see it? Where's the day?

There's a line going across. Yeah, I'm at like four hours. Now, good news today is I'm at like 20 minutes.

Yeah, so am I. Today's really low. There you go.

Look at that. Down 77% from last week. Mine's down 44%. Get ready for this interview. I'm at five hours and 26 minutes daily. Yeah, so that's- That's terrible.

It's about the same. Whoa. Hey, can I put a disclaimer for my son on here? Because he's going to be laughing his head off right now. One of the things I'll do is I'll listen to the Bible on I love doing that. Me too. Sometimes I'll go to bed listening to praise music or

My son was like, how come yours is higher than mine, Dad? We went back and tracked this thing in Audible. If I fall asleep with that in my ear, it'll play all night. Full disclaimer, I at least have that going on my screen time. Way to go.

I need to probably get an authentic answer by not sleeping with that. Well, if there's anything that I've heard today, and I've heard a lot, I think where we end it is something that I want to look at, and I would encourage husbands and dads and moms and wives and even our kids. Like, what is the balance in your life between opening truth, the Word of God, and allowing that in and allowing the other, and a lot of us, lies and distortions.

I'm not saying social media is bad, but you've got to have a balance. Proverbs 23, 7, as a man thinks, so he is. So, whatever we're putting in our mind to think about, that's how we're going to live as a husband, as a dad, as a mom, as a wife. So, all you've got to do is play it back and say, what am I meditating on? It's going to determine how I live.

So, today could be a day to say, you know, it's time to change that. You've been listening to Dave and Anne with Rob Singleton on Family Life Today. Rob's book is called Overliked, Crippled by Social Media. You can get a copy at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Also, all this month, when you help reach more families with God's truth by giving to family life, we want to send you a copy of Jenny Allen's book called Find Your People. It's our thanks to you when you give this month at or call 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. And tomorrow, Dave and Anne Wilson will continue their conversation with Rob Singleton and help us to refocus our attention on what's most important. That's tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 07:09:56 / 2023-01-12 07:21:25 / 11

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