Blow up your TV…turn off your smartphone

Since it seems that the mainstream media and Big Tech are busy profiting off of our own personal echo chambers while creating what seems like a mass psychosis, it might be a good time to unplug. I’m serious….you don’t really need all of those social media apps on your phone. They’re not your friend.

The inspiration for my tongue-in-cheek title is from an old John Prine song. When I was growing up in the late 60s my older brother was a big John Prine fan. I grew up listening to him. When I got older, I used to sing and play John Prine’s song, “Spanish Pipedream, which perfectly describes how we unplugged back in the day. Here’s the chorus:

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus on your own

I was reminded of this song when I recently heard Fox News’ Tucker Carlson being interviewed by Dave Rubin (you can watch the clip here). Apparently, not only does Tucker Carlson not do social media, he has no TV! In fact, he’s never watched TV his whole life. Do you know what he does when he’s not doing his show? He reads. He enjoys the outdoors. He lives his life with real people. What a novel idea!

Me – Austin, Texas 1978

While I haven’t blown up my TV (yet), we did move to the country from the big city.  More importantly, I did find Jesus! And besides finding Jesus, I can honestly say that moving away from Chicago 25 years ago was the best decision our family ever made. I’m much happier and more at peace than I ever was living both in the city and suburbs. And the best part: I can choose when I plug into what’s happening, and I can still go to the city whenever I want. But then I can unplug again, and all that social drama is another world away.

I can happily say that our small town doesn’t do drama. I have friends on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, and we love each other and work together in the community. One reason for this is because politics never comes up. We’ve actually gotten to know each another as people. There’s no tribal “us vs. them” because we’re weren’t driven Twitter-crazy!

I have no social media apps on my phone. My life is much fuller and happier for it. My wife and I talk to each other at restaurants instead of checking our phones, and we show the same courtesy to other people we talk to. There’s nothing better than good conversation in the presence of great friends.

You may balk at my extreme measures. You can’t live without your social media apps, right? Well, I’ve already written about the addictive nature of smartphones in “Smartphones, addictions, joy, and pleasure,” and I talked about the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” And there is help available if you want to get out of the Matrix. Just saying… 🙂

On that note, let’s talk about mass psychosis! It’s seems like our world has gone quite insane since the endless pandemic began. There’s a very good video by Academy of Ideas on how mass psychosis is created titled, “The Manufacturing of a Mass Psychosis: Can Sanity Return to an Insane World?” The video opens with the following quote that pretty much hits the societal nail on the head:

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” (Gustave Le Bon – “A Study of the Popular Mind”)

In another of their videos on how social media feeds on loneliness (and lockdowns), “Social Media and The Psychology of Loneliness,” they make the following comment:

“The more we get drawn into the virtual worlds of social media, the worse we tend to feel. To account for this, it is suggested that the medium is the problem. We have become over-reliant on connecting through our devices at the expense of more traditional ways of social interaction.”

But then they make the point that the problem goes much deeper. The root seems to be that so many people have no inner sense of who they are. They are “hollow people,” according to the video.  For these empty souls, social media feeds their need for affirmation and sense of self-worth. But this is not real; and worse, it feeds our narcissistic tendencies. In the virtual world, we can pretend to be someone we’re not and feed off the social validation offered by the others who participate in our virtual echo chamber.

I heard somewhere that over 90% of Americans are on Facebook and/or Twitter.  This is striking when you think about the control Big Tech has over the cultural narrative.

This all reminds me of the Dr. Who episode, “Rise of the Cybermen.” In this episode, a TARDIS malfunction crash lands the Doctor and Rose on a parallel Earth, which looks to be almost identical to their own. But, apparently, everyone in this parallel earth is hooked up to the “CybusNetwork” through an earpiece or phone app (sound familiar?) Here’s a clip from this episode.

The only difference between that parallel world and ours is that everyone here is hooked up to continual feeds from Facebook, Twitter, etc. The fact that this doesn’t frighten us is quite frightening!

I will end my thoughts with some wisdom from a plaque I see whenever we go to a local diner. It simply says:

“No Wi-fi. Act like it’s 1995 and talk to each other.”

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 42 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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13 Responses to Blow up your TV…turn off your smartphone

  1. Excellent Mel— to unplug and step away from the madness—I’ve never done Facebook or any of those earlier platforms because as a high school teacher I saw up close and personal how caustic that all was for both students and parents— email and this little blog are bad enough— or perhaps, it’s really just the blog as it gets me in enough trouble 😅
    As for TV I’m trying to get my husband to limit his time with FOX as he just gets mad— I want to be up to date and informed but when I start getting depressed or so mad and frustrated, I know it’s Tim to get up and as you suggest— go outside— yard work can be so transforming 🥳

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, Julie. I never really did Facebook either because I saw how quickly it consumed people’s lives. I do post things on there for our church page (from my laptop, not phone) but I don’t go on there normally. The other crazy thing about social media, people put all their private family information on there! That is not smart! All of that information in on the internet for the world to see (and use) forever.

      I think if people checked their Facebook page once a day, it wouldn’t be so bad, and they could stay just as connected. But most don’t. It truly is an addiction that so many can’t seem to live without. There have been studies done on the anxiety and depression it has caused people. It acts just like a highly addictive drug.

      I think watching news channels all the time, like Fox News (or CNN, MSNBC on the left), are just as addictive and harmful as social media. Again, it takes about 15-30 minutes to catch up on the news. What we need to understand about their algorithm (like social media algorithms) is that they are designed to keep you engaged, which helps them sell more advertising. And one of the best ways to do that by keeping you angry about something. But I would say 24-hour news and social media has done more to divide our country into “us vs. them” than any other thing.

      So, yes, yard work, long walks. Get involved in helpful things. Do anything to get out of the Matrix. 🙂

  2. LightWriters says:

    Wow, powerful truth-hitting and a great quote by Gustave Le Bon. I read mostly headlines on selected free speech platforms, have never liked the lack of personal boundaries and privacy on social media, do avoid all the popular platforms. I find it all far too distracting and a waste of energy and time. Glad to say I happily dumped tv and radio long ago. I immerse myself in natural surrounds and the sounds of nature as much as possible although I live in a busy city, and I above all thank God for the peace He always provides as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. On WordPress I celebrate this same approach.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Sounds like a healthy approach to staying connected without losing your mind. When we lived in Chicago they did have the forest preserves to take walks and enjoy nature.

      “…above all thank God for the peace He always provides as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.”

      Amen. His peace is the true antidote to all the insanity around us!

  3. says:

    I’ve been limited by my allergies so can’t escape to my peaceful place in the garden. Each year gets more difficult. My refuge lately has been in old television shows from the 60s and 70s. A different time, different values, different goals and dreams. The news is no longer available except for the weather reports.

    • Mel Wild says:

      We like watching old movies. We both like history and the classics. I will watch documentaries. Hobbies are a good thing, too. Anything you can do to take refuge from the mass psychosis is a good thing!

      • says:

        Absolutely😊. I’m a retired acting teacher and have been working with three other women on a series of episodes to perform as radio shows -pertaining to issues we face as we age. This fills a lot of my time.

  4. jilldomschot says:

    Most of my life I didn’t have a TV, but I’ve always lived a lonely life. Twenty years ago, I listened to talk radio if I wanted to feel connected. Now it’s podcasts. While I don’t have Facebook or Twitter, guess where I’m reading your blog? From an app on my smart phone. I have a feed here of blogs I like. It’s distracting, but I feel like it’s a little more removed from standard social media. Maybe I’m just lying to myself.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Spending time alone is actually a good thing for our soul. It helps us take stock of our lives and reflect, which we need to do to grow as human beings, which also hard to do with a continual feed chiming at us.

      I agree with you on blogging. It is different than social media because people are writing articles and there’s a thought process involved before just posting what’s on your mind. Also, you’re not as aggressively sucked into their algorithms as you are with social media. You’re more free to choose what content you want to read without it being pushed on you all the time.

      But blogging is also time consuming which is why it’s where I had to draw the line on my online activities. I love writing but I don’t have time for continuous interactions, like with social media. I do love reading other people’s blogs but I’m not on it everyday. If someone is writing more than a couple of posts of week, I rarely have time to read them all. But of all the interactive online platforms, blogging seems to be the least harmful in the ways I talked about here.

  5. Ha! Great post, Mel. You made me laugh. A bit of John Prine and some Dr Who is just good for the soul.

    For me it’s all about not being a passive recipient or consumer of anything. Always think for yourself. Interesting how this idea is becoming a lost art in the world! This morning I was looking about at a bunch of blue haired, heavily tattooed and pierced…..conformists. We need to get busy and go radicalize the children, LOL!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yup, think for yourself. I grew up arguing with the TV. Never passively accept anything they tell you.

      “This morning I was looking about at a bunch of blue haired, heavily tattooed and pierced…..conformists. We need to get busy and go radicalize the children, LOL!”

      That’s hilarious. Yes, they are the conformists in this insane world. We are the radicals!

  6. Nick says:

    Absolutely agree. There is no need to have this Fear Of Missing Out. There’s nothing on social media or on TV that you need.

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