I will remember the night for the rest of my life. My best friend sat next to me and sobbed his eyes out as he confessed sin after sin that he had been bottling up inside. He talked about his selfish desire for glory, and the times he had hurt people just to be noticed, and how his mind was under the constant attack of sexually immoral thoughts.
As I listened, my heart shattered. I wondered what would crack open up such a horrible world in his mind. When I asked, he replied with one word: YouTube.
He told me that he had internet access at a young age, and no one monitored what he did online. He stumbled across various comedy and animated video series and internet personalities and productions. Some of the most prominent were Game Grumps, Cyanide & Happiness, Markiplier, PewDiePie, Funhaus, and Rooster Teeth.
The characters portrayed in these videos are funny; they play video games and are interested in the same kinds of pop culture that my friend was. But they take these topics and twist them with disturbing jokes, destructive comments, and tons of disgusting innuendo.
Appealing to youth culture
The creators of these YouTube videos make raunchy jokes that trivialize domestic violence, emotional and physical abuse, murder, and sexual assault. They glorify drunk driving and use language that is both crude and violent.
The creators know how to appeal to youth culture, but they invest their time and resources not to improve that culture but to pollute it. Their fame comes from little more than pushing buttons and making videos that, from my observation on the college campus, help to destroy the minds of the children and young adults who are mesmerized by them. Not only that, their followers are creating memes that circulate through the internet, encouraging the video stars to create more videos with more terrible content to gain even more viewers.
In all they say and do, it becomes obvious that their actions and words seek not to bring any glory to the Father, but to gain laughs, views, followers, and fame for themselves.
As our world becomes more focused on web and digital entertainment, it’s important to understand what young people watch today. Many parents have little idea of what their kids are viewing.
The younger generation is learning that with access to video cameras and the internet, in the blink of an eye they could go from normal to internet stars seemingly overnight. With the world at their fingertips, they put up just about anything on display to the world and attract approval. All they need is something juicy enough to catch the viewers and a desire for their own glory.
It’s not just the immoral content of many videos that we should avoid. The desire for YouTube fame is also leading many to make unwise choices. Take the disastrous downfall of a young Minnesota couple who decided to become internet famous. What started out as viral videos of harmless pranks turned deadly when Monalisa Perez fired a gun at a book held by her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz. He had convinced her that the book would stop the bullet. Instead he was killed, and she was charged with manslaughter.
On a less extreme side, a new trend on YouTube is parents taping “crazy for baby” videos or featuring their children doing ridiculous things. Some are harmless, but others almost feel like exploitation—parents feed their little children scripts, or pull pranks on their kids and then post the results online in the hope that they can gain some small amount of recognition. They use their social media accounts to showcase their children to viewers they don’t even know. All without even thinking of the strange people out there in the world, or the ramifications of their actions on their children’s safety or future.
Forgetting what life is about
The world has become a place where the desire for fame has spread like wildfire through dry grass. We focus so much on being perceived as cool or funny to the world, and become so obsessed with gaining our own glory, that at times we forget what life is all about.
As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives should reflect our Savior, not be squandered mindlessly consuming content we know goes against the purity the Bible preaches. We should avoid doing things for our own glory, especially through damaging and selfish means.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When we feed on content that is graphic and disgusting in nature, we expose ourselves to the opposite of what the Bible calls us to.
Seeking the approval of our Father
While on this earth, we live for the glory of our Father. The things we do and the things we expose ourselves to should reflect that our deepest desire is for the approval of our Father.
Scripture warns us in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
You may not yet be at the point that my friend was. You may not seek fame through the web. But what is the world getting you to watch or laugh at? Where is your approval and worth coming from? The laughs and the self-serving glory will fade away. At the end of the day, only God and His magnificence will remain, not just for a fleeting season, but for eternity.
So the question is, which will you build into?
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