The Real Cost of Social Media, Plus Helpful Solutions | Chris Martin

In this episode:

This week, Chris Martin talks with me about how we can have healthy relationships with the content on the web and become more aware of how platforms control us. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and what is coming in the future. Chris’s solution is not just delete your accounts and log off. Instead, he has a thoughtful way of approaching technology. Bottom line, Chris says: “Use the platforms and don’t let the platforms use you.”

About Chris Martin

Chris Martin is a content marketing editor at Moody Publishers and a social media, marketing, and communications consultant. He writes regularly in his Substack newsletter, Terms of Service, and wrote a book of the same title, which released in 2022. Chris lives outside Nashville with his wife, Susie, their daughter, Magnolia, and their dog, Rizzo.

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Highlights from Terms of Service Book

How social internet shapes us:

  1. We Believe Attention Assigns Value
  2. We Trade Our Privacy for Expression
  3. We Pursue Affirmation Instead of Truth
  4. We Demonize People We Dislike
  5. We Destroy the People We Demonize

So where do we go from here?

  1. Study history
  2. Admire creation
  3. Value silence
  4. Pursue humility
  5. Establish accountability
  6. Build friendships

Quotes to Remember from Chris Martin

  • I think it's kind of foolish to treat social media like a neutral tool. But I think a lot of my concern regarding our relationship with social media lies as much or more with the fact that we just so uncritically use it.
  • We put so many other people and institutions in our lives through that kind of trust gauntlet in our minds, at such in such a more serious and heartfelt way than we often do these platforms like I just think we have to uncritically embraced social media.
  • The social internet is like the table setting the plate, the fork, the knife, the spoon, as you sit down to dinner. Social media is the food on the plate; it's what you consume.
  • I want us to realize that the actual technology, like the mathematics that go into the Facebook algorithm, affects how you and I think much more than even the video we consume from that algorithm.
  • It's made it a lot easier to feel deficient if you try to find your worth and your identity in what other people think about you....So many of us have embraced these platforms so uncritically that they have come to define our worth in our minds, without us even intending for them to do so. And a lot of us find ourselves feeling worthy, more or less worthy, because of followers or engagement of some variety.
  • When you and I are in high school, and it's still true today that the the place of social performance is the hallway, in between classes in the lunchroom, you know...Imagine how socially debilitating that when high schoolers today go home, they don't get to leave that social performance runway.
  • If you're under the impression that deleting your accounts or even just locking yourself out of your accounts going on an indefinite social media fast is somehow going to untangle your life from the influence of social media, you're sorely biggest takeaway or action point is just to be more intentional.


Chris Martin's articles and humor - Terms of Service

Amusing Ourselves to Death – Neil Postman

Hitmakers – Derek Thompson

Episode Sponsor


Michelle Rayburn 00:05
How would you describe your engagement with social platforms on the internet? Social media is broader than the apps you think of. This week, Chris Martin talks with me about how we can have healthy relationships with the content on the web and become more aware of how platforms control us. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and what is coming in the future for the internet. The social performance runway goes everywhere with us now. There's no escaping from the social pressures. Chris's solution is not just to delete your accounts and log off. Instead, he has a thoughtful way of approaching the technology that isn't going away. Bottom line, Chris says, "Use the platforms. And don't let the platforms use you." Chris and I also talk about his new book, Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media.

Michelle Rayburn 01:07
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith, improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host Michelle Rayburn. Chris Martin is a content marketing editor at Moody publishers and a social media marketing and communications consultant. He writes regularly in his Substack newsletter, “Terms of Service”, and his book with the same title came out from B&H Publishing in February of 2022. Chris lives outside Nashville with his wife Susie and their daughter Magnolia, and their dog Rizzo. Here's my chat with Chris Martin.

So I've tried to stalk you on Facebook. We're going to be talking about social media today, and you really do a great job of hiding out. So I wasn't able to dig up anything. However, in your bio, it says that your dog is named Rizzo. And I want to know are you a Muppets fan? Or is there another connection?

Chris Martin 02:16
Sure, sure. Sure. Yeah. It's funny that you have a hard time finding me on Facebook. I think that that is somewhat intentional. I do I do hideout which we may get into some of that. However, I also shared name with the lead singer. Yes.

Michelle Rayburn
Elephant in the room.

Chris Martin
Yeah, notoriously makes me a little bit hard to find for good and for ill I suppose for good when, when I don't want people finding me in for ill when I'm trying to launch a book, I suppose. So. But yeah, so we have our dog. Yes, his name is Rizzo. He's a golden doodle. It's hard to believe in February of 22. He will be five. He still sometimes feels like a puppy. But we also we are big Muppets fans, but he's technically named after Anthony Rizzo the former Chicago Cubs first baseman, so we're big Chicago Cubs fans in our house. And Anthony Rizzo was a longtime first baseman for the Chicago Cubs—led us to our first World Series in over 100 years. And so, so yeah, we're big Anthony Rizzo fans here, even though he had to depart for the New York Yankees this past season. And so it's a shame we had to put the dog out to pasture. No, I'm kidding. We didn't actually do that. But, but so yeah, but we are side note, we are big Muppets fans, so I suppose that could be a sort of honorary reason for naming.

Michelle Rayburn 03:32
Double connection. I'm ashamed to say that even though by name, my husband's family is all Cubs fans, I couldn't tell you that there was a connection to the Cubs, even though I know that there's a dog in our family and named Wrigley for a very good reason. So I understand. Anyway, I like to start with those little connections like that. I also am a big fan and my adult son and I love to go to the Muppets movies when they come out. So, Rizzo is one of my favorite characters. We're going to be talking about social media today because that's what you've written about. And I want to know, what do you love about social media before I asked you what you hate about it?

Chris Martin 04:11
Sure. What I love about social media is—I actually love a lot of things, so anyone who maybe happens to pick up the book that I've written on it, Terms of Service, may think that I hate it—I, well when they pick it up, they may think that. My hope is after they read it, they don't think I do. But I do I do think there is a lot more to be a bit weary of than excited about. All of that said, man, I love a lot. Like my favorite social media platform of all time was Vine—rest in peace, Vine. Like that was a tremendous like six-second videos. I mean, there was great comedy there.

Michelle Rayburn I forgot about those.

Chris Martin
Oh, man, it was so—and tick tock my like I'm kind of embarrassed to say TikTok is one of my new favorite social media platforms because it's kind of the spiritual successor to vine. I mean, it's very different in a lot of ways, the musical component, etc. But it really embodies a lot of the Vine vibe.

Chris Martin 05:07
So I love social media for me just coming across like people who I would never meet who aren't professional comedians, or entertainers, who are just really good at being funny, or delivering the news in a compelling way. Like, I follow a few YouTubers who deliver both like World News and like internet culture, news about various creators or whatever, and do it in just a really compelling way. So I, I love social media for coming across people who are just super talented and in good at what they knew what they do, but would never have maybe made it or emerged through traditional media outlets like television news, you know, some of the folks I watch who deliver the news in a compelling way, maybe would have never anchored the ABC nightly news. And I think it's the Internet has just been so wonderful at introducing each of us to people who have different sets of skills and talents, to whom we maybe would have never been introduced, had we not had the internet.

Chris Martin 06:12
So I think like on a big picture level, that is one of my I mean, getting to do this with you. Like without the internet, you know. You're not a radio host, which is like the traditional radio version of a podcast. And so I love getting to be with radio folks. But being with podcast folks is similar but different. And without social media and what I kind of more broadly called the social internet, we wouldn't have this opportunity. So I just really loved I really like using social media for things that maybe aren't quite as deep. I think I think one of the cautions that I often think about is social media, it can be such a trivializing medium, it can make really important things seem really trivial, because of the transient nature of content and the sort of like, numeric ranking of what's valuable, and what's not through likes, and comments, and shares. That it can make really deep, really important topics seem less important than they are. But I think it can be really great. Social media can be really great for just introducing us to different forms of entertainment, or different forms of social connection, that while maybe aren't as deep and intimate as offline connection are still valuable regardless.

Michelle Rayburn 07:31
Yeah, I've stayed connected to some family members that I would otherwise not have even known, you know, cousins that were born way after I was and live in other states. I would never know them. But after reading your book, I did see that—actually, I've skimmed your book just to be totally transparent—I want to read it when it comes out. By the time this episode airs, the book will be out. And then I am definitely going to get the print version, because it's the kind of book that I need to underline and Mark and just really, dog ear the pages. So you do a great job of talking about the benefits of social media as well. So it's not all about hate. But I know there are some things you don't like about social media. So tell us about those.

Chris Martin 08:14
Oh, man, this is very much a "Where do I begin?" kind of scenario, I would say the heart of the book, in the heart of my concern with social media lies as much with us as it does with the platforms themselves. So I am concerned about how a lot of the platforms work. And I do not think social media is a neutral tool, as many people call it, and I can maybe further in our discussion get into why I just think that's not even just wrong, I think it's kind of foolish to treat social media like a neutral tool. But I think a lot of my concern regarding our relationship with social media lies as much or more with the fact that we just so uncritically use it. We ask deeper questions. And we put certain people or institutions or authority figures in our lives through the wringer of like trust and authority, like do I trust this person? Do I not? We put so many other people and institutions in our lives through that kind of trust gauntlet in our minds, at such in such a more serious and heartfelt way than we often do these platforms like I just think we have to uncritically embraced social media. And that's the whole heart of the book.

Chris Martin 09:30
Frankly, what I write about in my weekly newsletter, and really just kind of the soapbox I stand on is that I never advocate for people to delete their social media accounts and say it's just evil, log off. I mean, some people who are perhaps addicted to it and really find their identity in it, that may be a wise course of action. But I don't think just logging off and deleting accounts is necessarily wise. I think just intentional use is the right way to go about it is saying, “What do I hope for social media to accomplish for me, like, what am I looking for it to do?” And so many of us just willingly entrust ourselves to these platforms or strangers on these platforms, without asking some, I think important questions like, “Why do I need to turn on my location services for Instagram? Like, do I really need to do that?” Do I need to post—like, I have friends on Facebook who have posted pictures of positive COVID tests, including their doctor's name, and address and patient ID number, I mean, multiple people. I mean, this is not uncommon. I just think we're getting, I think we get a little bit too comfortable with these platforms. And I just think that as much as anything, as much as I nitpick, Facebook and their horrible record on privacy, or Twitter and their content moderation issues, all of those are worthy of discussion.

Chris Martin 10:49
I'm as much concerned about our inability to just think critically about these platforms and the way they're changing how we think about ourselves, the way they're changing how we identify beauty in our, in our world. They're affecting how we think of other people, as humans, or perhaps less than human. And so, I just think that we should have a more intentional, critical relationship with these platforms. And while they were promoted back, you know, I can remember when I was in high school, and Facebook was made available to the masses. They're promoted as tools to connect us with friends and family or whatever. And that's all true. But my fear is that where we maybe started out using these platforms, really, these platforms have started to use us. And that's really the core of my concern. And I think a lot of that is just because we let something that was meant to be a facet of our lives become central to our lives.

Michelle Rayburn 11:49
Yeah. So, listener, I want to talk to you right now out there, because you're listening in on this conversation. And if you're asking, why is Chris on the show? It is because we cannot be like Jesus and be conformed to his line of thinking if we don't question our behaviors. And since social media is so much a part of our everyday life, it really affects how we live like Jesus. And our behaviors on there don't always align with who we claim to follow. So that's a big part of the message of your book, Chris, I know that. So listener, as we keep talking, I want you to look for ways that you can be aware of changes you can make in your life. They may be massive, or they may be tweaks. Now, Chris, you mentioned in your book that AOL Instant Messenger was your first your gateway to social media. So was on dial-up?

Chris Martin 12:36
Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Michelle Rayburn 12:37
So think about how fast that has evolved. Because on dial-up, there was an action I had to take to get connected to the internet. And now it's right here sitting next to me on my phone all the time. And when I was in school, it was like—the social media actually was paper footballs the little before origami kind of. That was social media. So over time, things have really changed. How do you differentiate between social media, the internet, and social internet? You have these terms tossed around in your book? Tell us about that.

Chris Martin 13:13
Yeah, so I really differentiate in the book between social media and the social internet. So the very brief history of the internet, you have web one, web two, and web three. Web one is best understood as the internet as a billboard, if you will, where there were very few publishers on the internet, it was major news companies or, or media companies were creating content on the internet. And you and I, as a user, back in the early 1990s, anyone who's listening who was maybe using the Internet back then certainly in dial-up era, we were just consuming content. We weren't creating content. Maybe we were sending emails. That's about as much creating as we were doing was creating emails or, or posting on the earliest form of social media like message boards, and listservs, and all that, that that's called web one, web 1.0. And that's really until, like 1997, like the end of the 1990s.

Chris Martin 14:10
It was around 1999 when we move into web 2.0. And AOL was a big part of that chat rooms. It was Instant Messenger. Those were really kind of the first big picture social media platforms. Then you get into Friendster, MySpace, those are the more early iterations, our modern social media platform. And so that's web 2.0. And that's where we live right now—that era has gone on for a really long time.

Chris Martin 14:39
Web 3.0, which we won't talk about much here today but it's really becoming more popular and talked about these days, is similar to web 2.0. But instead of a few major companies seeming to control web 2.0 like Facebook, Google, being two of the biggest, with web 3.0 the whole point of that is to be very similar in function, all the same services. Being able to buy things on the internet, socialize with people, but having more of the ownership monetarily, etc., be distributed among the users. So you could imagine a world in which you post something on Facebook. And for every like you get, you earn a quarter. And for every comment you receive, you earn 50 cents like that. Web 3.0 will have those. There are actually social media platforms that already exist that do this kind of thing. So that's kind of what we can, in part, be looking forward to the future of the internet.

Chris Martin 15:28
So the reason I differentiate between this social internet and social media is the social internet is the technology. The social media is the content we consume on that technology. So when I say social media, you likely think of a few app icons. Most people are going to think of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok. I, throughout the book, and really, throughout my effort to kind of do ministry through writing and speaking on this topic is I want us to have a broader understanding of the Internet to realize that really, the whole internet is social. When you Google something like how to what temperature do I cook chicken on the grill— is it 160 or 170? Or when's it done? You know, that's one of the things that I like to try to cook and I'm like, it's 165? Right? Or am I thinking of something else? When you Google that and you get a response, if something pops up, a human created that response. Usually it's gonna come up with like a blog post or an article, like another person created that when you go to Yelp, and you look at reviews for a restaurant, you got to go out on a date with your spouse over the weekend, you go out, you're going to Yelp to check out a restaurant review. That's social, that is social media, but we don't think of it right. Amazon book reviews, that's social media. But if I say social media, you never think of those things. And so what I what I really want to accomplish by trying to popularize, I'm not the one who came up with the term social internet; plenty of people have said that.

Chris Martin 16:58
But what I'm trying to do by using that term, much more frequently than social media has helped us realize that our social experiences on the internet go far beyond what we do on those three or four apps that we think of. And we should really look at our entire relationship with the internet as social and really this era that we're in web 2.0 is kind of understood as the social internet I also think of, you know, another analogy, I guess you could say, as the social internet is like the table setting the plate, the fork, the knife, the spoon, as you sit down to dinner, social media is the food on the plate, it's what you it's what you consume.

Chris Martin 17:35
There's a great media ecologist, named Neil Postman, who really is one of the biggest influences on my, on my life in writing and in this work that I'm trying to do. He wrote a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death. It's one of one of the most famous books on this topic. And it was proposed… It was written in 1985. But it's as relevant today as it's ever been. And he talks about the difference between a technology and a medium. And that's really what I'm trying to convey is a technology is the actual architecture, the sort of the sort of undergirding on top of which media is constructed. It's sort of Yeah, the technology is the foundation of the house and the in the media is what's built on top of that foundation and how that technology is used. And so that's why I want us to realize that the actual technology, like the mathematics that go into the Facebook algorithm, affects how you and I think much more than even the video we consume from that algorithm that the algorithm has served us like the actual math, which I'm not a math guy. So if you're not a math guy or gal, trust me, I'm not either, but the mathematical equations that are used to deliver us that content affect us just as much as that funny cat video we watch. And I just think we don't think about those things. And I think we should think about the more.

Michelle Rayburn 18:56
That's true, we don't. I'm also a words person and not a math person. And it's the whole internet is constructed that way, because I do know, from the years I worked at a marketing agency, that we were thinking about the fact that Google can track everything. And if I shopped for something on one place, the reminder showed up on Facebook and that kind of thing. I think it still surprises some people, but really, I'm not too shocked by the fact that every digital footprint that I have out there leads to something else. Ironically, your book is called Terms of Service, something that most people don't read. So I want people to read your book, but most people don't read the Terms of Service and know even what they're consenting to do. And that is something that, you know, it's like five pages long. And we don't even know what we said yes to.

Chris Martin 19:51
That's right. And that's like, it's funny when I was proposing this book a couple years ago, I just put these…like when you're when you're proposing a book, it's like you have to name the file something. And so I just kind of named the file as a joke that Terms of Service because all of us lie about reading the terms. Nobody, like nobody except lawyers or privacy experts, have ever read the Terms of Service to anything. And most people don't know that back when you sign up for iTunes back in 2007, or whatever, it said that you can't use iTunes to create a nuclear weapon, you know, but it says that, and so, you know, we don't read the Terms of Service. And that is part of the joke. And also, I mean, part of the title is, is I think that, you know, when we do explicitly click a yes, I've read the Terms of Service, we're agreeing to a certain sort of contract of sorts, like we're agreeing to the terms of the service of the platform. But I also think that we agree to a sort of invisible Terms of Service as well, we agree to a way that these platforms will have a hold on us, that is never written anywhere in virtual ink, we never really have to lie about reading them because they don't exist. But there is a sort of like shadow, spiritual terms of service, I think, or even mental and emotional, that we're signing ourselves up for, that we often don't think about.

Michelle Rayburn 21:10
That leads really well into something you talked about in the book. And that is the kind of affirmation we get from online connections. So what's dangerous about that?

Chris Martin 21:21
Oh, man, I mean, the human desire to find identity and value in what other people think about us is not new. This is not a problem that social media created. And I'm careful to say that everybody wants to be popular, everybody wants to be well, well liked. That's been around since long before social media. But what social media has done is to use kind of a trope or a cliche, like it's really poured gasoline on that fire. And it's quantified it in a very quantifiable way, in a very clearly understood way that you could maybe you know, back in the 80s, or if you were in high school in the 90s. And you could, you could get this feeling that people didn't like you or that you weren't as popular as other people. But today, you like have the metrics to prove it. That's right. And you have to you have the stats, to show that people don't care about you as much as maybe you think they do. And I think everybody wants to feel significant. And I think part of what social media has done for good and for ill is it's given a lot of people the ability to find recognition and significance who maybe never would have without social media. And like, I'm not here to say that that's like bad or wrong, that there are people who have gotten famous or rich or whatever. And I'm not here to dog them and tell like, say that they're bad. But at the same time, what that sort of like, social lottery, if you will, this sort of feeling that anybody can get rich and famous at any time with just the right funny viral video or picture or whatever, also creates this gap, this sort of feeling of deficiency, that if I don't get recognized, if I don't get eight likes in the first five minutes of posting my Instagram, if I don't get certain comments, or certain people responding to me, then I'm deficient in some way.

Chris Martin 23:31
And I think any time and like I said, this is not a new problem, but I do think that social media has made it worse, frankly. And it's made it a lot easier to feel deficient if you try to find your worth and your identity in what other people think about you. Yeah. And this just goes back to what I said earlier, that I think so many of us have embraced these platforms so uncritically that they have come to define our worth in our minds, without us even intending for them to do so. And a lot of us find ourselves feeling worthy, more or less worthy, because of followers or engagement of some variety. And it's just because it's not that we set out to do that. But because of human nature and how these platforms are built.

Chris Martin 24:26
That's where we find ourselves and a lot of us I've you know, I used to have a hard time getting people to talk about the negative sides of social media, like couple years ago when I was first starting to have these conversations. Frankly, since the start of like COVID, like spring of 2020, summer of 2020. It's been a lot easier to have these conversations. So I'm grateful. I don't know that it's because of the pandemic per se but I think a lot of people have started to rely on those platforms more. And I think a lot of people have started to see the cracks in it. Our relationship with social media and the social internet broadly. And I think there's a little bit of light peeking through those cracks for us to maybe start asking how can we have a healthier relationship with these platforms.

Michelle Rayburn 25:14
Yeah, I've talked with my sons who are both high school teachers, and in the eight to ten years that they've been out of high school, they said, they're observing a huge change in teenagers and this addictive factor of having the phone with them at all times. And almost this panic of if I have to get off of a platform. I've seen people say they're going on fast, and there'll be off Facebook, see, everyone, I'll be gone for 30 days. And then like that FOMO comes up, because two days later, they're posting again, like they couldn't even stay away for 30 days.

Chris Martin 25:50
Yeah, that's totally true. And I think it's, um, what's interesting that you brought up, you know, high schoolers, I help lead the student ministry, at our church. And so I'm working with high schoolers and middle schoolers a lot. And I think it's, the problem is definitely prevalent among them. And for many of them today, they've never known any different. My hope is, like, a lot of people sometimes ask you, “What's your hope? Do you have any hope?” First in Christ, but secondly, I have hope that—sounds bad—but I really think there is hope here, that our current high schoolers and college students who grew up with this, right like they're…I'm a digital native in the traditional sense of the term and that I was on AOL Instant Messenger was when I was in the first grade. But I'm not a digital native in the new sense of, I wasn't on Instagram when I was in eighth grade, which is like kind of a new digital native of sorts, like a digital native 2.0. Because, you know, there's a certain level of pressure that middle schoolers and high schoolers have today that even I, who was on Facebook and Twitter in in high school did not have, and that's because of the iPhone, or, you know, and everything that's come after, not the iPhone, specifically.

Chris Martin 27:07
But I think my hope is that these present Gen Z— call them Gen Z both college and younger—bottom out so hard from their relationship with these platforms, like just really recognized the depravity of these platforms, as places to maintain healthy, intimate relationships, that they can parent their eventual children in such a way that they sort of pendulum swing back, and are asking very critical questions of these platforms, that they, when they were in high school, the current high schoolers weren't smart enough to ask, and that their parents having also been new to this whole game, also, were not smart enough to ask. So my hope is that is that all of the difficulty that high schoolers and middle schoolers and high end college students are experiencing today puts them through the wringer enough that maybe it can help improve their parenting in this way. Whenever they become whenever they become parents.

Chris Martin 28:19
There's a great saying, Derek Thompson in his book Hitmakers is who came up with this, and I think it's so helpful that high schoolers today you know, when you're in high school, when I was in high school, even though I was in high school with, with Facebook…

Michelle Rayburn 28:35
You were in high school way after I was.

Chris Martin 28:38
Sure, but you and what was funny is like you and I had a much more similar experience than people who are in high school today. Even though I'm closer to them, perhaps in number of years. What's weird is like when you and I would go home from high school. Socially, we were safe, like there are our house was socially safe, like we could go home, do our homework, play in the neighborhood or hang out with our family. And we didn't feel like we had to perform until maybe a friend called us. We went to the basketball game, or we went to the dance or whatever. We could retreat to what's called the backstage. And when you think and when you and I are in high school, and it's still true today that the the place of social performance is the hallway, in between classes in the lunchroom, you know, teens are performing.

Chris Martin 29:34
I mean, they're certainly performing in their classes as well, but socially, that that inter-class hallway experience that social experience that are sort of like the hallway is the runway of sorts like a social runway, we are demonstrating your social prowess or whatever else. And Derek Thompson says in his book Hitmakers that today's teenagers are always in the hallway. And to add my own language metaphor, they can never retreat to the backstage. They're always on stage under the spotlight. If you ever like if there's any question about social media has effects on the mental health of teenagers, which there really shouldn't be, just imagine living your life. Like you and I, we you never get to leave the high school hallway and the high school lunchroom. Imagine how socially debilitating that yeah, when high schoolers today go home, they don't get to leave that social performance runway, because they're constantly they can choose to opt out, which is just really like forfeiting, like, you're just saying I don't want to social life if I don't want to perform on these platforms at any given time, on any day, outside of even outside of the school walls. And so I think that, and really, it's easy to dog high schoolers and adolescents, but, but they're there, Boomer and Gen X parents are doing this too.

Michelle Rayburn 30:53
I was just thinking the same thing.

Chris Martin 30:55
Yeah, yeah. And, ah, frankly, I think a lot of high schoolers have a more healthy relationship with social media than their parents do. And that's a whole other discussion. But though they have their own issues, high schoolers because they're so young, and there's a certain immaturity there, obviously, I think that they're frankly, more socially internet savvy than their parents are, you know, in a lot of ways. So anyway, that's a whole other discussion. But yeah, I think it is. The whole seeking attention and affirmation is one of the most insidious parts of this whole, this whole relationship.

Michelle Rayburn 31:35
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Michelle Rayburn 32:43
In Terms of Service, you really go into the history of the internet; you do a lot of research. This is not just Chris's opinion; this is supported by a lot of other people's input. And so that's really important. Because, you know, there's a lot of misinformation out there. So if you're going to put a book out about social media, I love that it is backed with all of this concrete evidence, research things that go along with that, because the last couple of years have really proven that we are not able to, on our own filter out what's true and what's not true. There's just—and you go into that. So we don't have to do that here. But you've really shown how some of the conspiracies came up. And you go through five ways that social media, social internet really shapes us.

Michelle Rayburn 33:31
You talk about how we believe attention assigns value, how we trade our privacy for expression, how we pursue affirmation instead of truth, how we demonize people we dislike and how we destroy the people we demonize. And I think we've seen the evidence of that. We could keep talking about that. But I really like to provide solutions. So where do we go from here? Like, what do we do with this? Now that we know it's a challenge?

Chris Martin 33:58
Yeah, I think really my solution, as I said at the beginning of our discussion, my solution is never to just delete your accounts and log off. Again, I will say, I think that's a fine option if you choose to do so. I just think if you're under the impression that deleting your accounts or even just locking yourself out of your accounts going on an indefinite social media fast is somehow going to untangle your life from the influence of social media, you're sorely mistaken. I have a I can share a brief story. So I, my grandmother is in her late 80s. Honestly, like 85 or 88, somewhere around there. I forget. She's in her late 80s She's never used the internet ever. And until very recently, I should say. My wife and I have a two-year-old daughter. And she wanted to be able to see pictures of her beyond just when we could mail them to her. And so she got my dad, bless his heart, got her an iPhone and deleted every app on the phone other than the phone app. I mean, she doesn't even text other than the phone app and the photos app where we have a shared iCloud photo album of our of our daughter, because we won't post pictures of her on the internet, which is a whole other discussion.

Chris Martin 35:17
And, and so anyway, my grandmother has never used the internet, never use Facebook, anything like that. But we talk every Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening when I'm making dinner, and I call her and we'll talk about life and all that. And she spent some time with some family members who live near her who are who are on social media and are on the internet. And she regularly brings things up to me that happened on Facebook, or that her friend saw on Facebook that that she's telling me about, and my grandmother will probably not read this book that we're talking about, because I've already told her Grandma, this book isn't gonna make any sense to you. But she, she still consumes fa—in fact, she's she has relayed Facebook fake news and conspiracies to me and asked me if they're real. And so my poor grandma who's never even used the internet has been duped by fake news on Facebook, which like infuriated me beyond all measure.

Chris Martin 36:10
But all of that's to say, I think we need to realize that I use this metaphor at the beginning of the book. Social media, the social internet as a whole is the water in which we swim, and we're fish. Fish cannot swim and cannot live outside of water. And we realistically are never going to be able to live outside of the social internet. Unless you go live in a log cabin in the woods and never talk to anyone else. You're always going to be impacted by the social internet, even if you're just watching the evening news. And they end their broadcast with a heartfelt video of a puppy swimming in this pond or something like that. You're always going to be impacted by it. So I think the best course of action, I list a handful of practical things, I think we can study history, I think we can admirer creation, we can value silence, there's a whole lot of practical things we can do. And I give some examples of what we can do to just kind of untangle ourselves.

Chris Martin 37:05
That's how I would describe it, just maybe untangle ourselves, we don't have to sever ourselves. But I think a lot of us are just so tangled up in this stuff that we don't know how to go out on a date with our spouse and not look at our phones, we don't know how to hang out with our kids and not be scrolling Instagram while we do so. And I'm guilty of that. I don't say that this is from a from a point of view as someone who's never done this. I'm a new parent, and I'm just learning how to do this stuff myself. And so my biggest takeaway or action point is just to be more intentional. That would be how I would summarize it like, ask, what do I hope Instagram will accomplish in my life? What's the goal of using Twitter? What am I trying to do here? Just asking questions like that, of these platforms, I think can help us use them a little bit more intentionally. And keep us from reacting to some article that just makes us mad. So we fire off some comments saying something that we would never say to someone's face. Yeah. But we're just reacting in the moment. And we just say it there. Or we just will mindlessly scroll and purchase things on through Instagram’s, you know, shopping functionality. And we just like, I just spent $300 on jewelry that I've never spent that much on jewelry in a month. Like how did that even happen? We just we become consumed, and we become used. And I just the biggest takeaway I would say is just be intentional. Use the platforms, don't let the platform is used to you. That's how I would summarize it.

Michelle Rayburn 38:37
Great advice, there. You talked about humility, and that was something that really spoke to me as well. Because, you know, in my pride, I don't like to admit I'm wrong. I don't like other people to point that out. And so how we respond can really demonstrate the humility of Jesus and how we interact on social media. I'm not perfect. There are moments where I go back and delete something I said, like I shouldn't have said that. So Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media, where can people get that book when it comes out? By the time this airs that will be available for sale.

Chris Martin 39:15
Sure. You can go any place you buy books on the internet should have it. So it's on Amazon, it's on Barnes and Noble at It's on Books a Million. It's on a couple other retailers, I believe. And if you have a local Christian bookstore, perhaps they perhaps they have it. I know I actually have a friend who works at one here in my town, just outside Nashville, and he said that they're gonna order some copies. And I said, that's great. What do I have to do to get your order twice that many? Um, but yeah, so you can find it anywhere you like to like we're just you can actually go to I think has a little bit about the book if you're if you're trying to figure out if it's actually going to be interesting, and then has a list of all the different places cuz I know some folks, you know, don't want to give Amazon more money. But that I mean, it's I like to read Kindle books too. So that's where I tend to buy a lot of my books so certainly can find it there really anywhere you buy your books, you should be able to find it.

Michelle Rayburn 40:11
And what do you say to the person who's on the fence about reading it? What would you say? What would be the why behind why they should pick it up?

Chris Martin 40:19
And that's a, that's a great question. Because, you know, I've spoken with friends recently that I think sometimes the kind of person it takes to sit in their office or their study and write a 50,000 word book and the kind of person it takes to sell a 50,000 word book. Those personalities are different a lot of times, and so it's been kind of I love coming on and speaking with you, or anyone else I've had the opportunity to chat with, but just out, you know, straight out asking somebody or telling somebody to buy the book, it's kind of makes me uncomfortable. But here's what I would say, I devoted hundreds of hours and months of work to this book into this topic. Because I think it's incredibly, incredibly important for us to engage wisely, a technology is at the center that's at the center of so many of our lives.

Chris Martin 41:08
So if you're on the fence, what I would ask you to consider is, is it worth two to four hours of your time to maybe read it? I would say so. I think it's important enough that I devoted hundreds of hours to writing it. And so I would just maybe ask yourself, I spend, you know, say to yourself, maybe if you're the average person, you probably spend about two hours a day on social media. I spend about two hours a day on social media, you know, 10 to 14 hours a week. But I'd be willing to spend four to six hours depending on your reading speed, reading a book about my relationship with this thing that I spent so much time with. I think a lot of us would be well served by thinking more deeply about something we've given so much time to, whether that's the church, whether that's social media, whether that's our spouse, and parenting, or marriage or whatever else, if there's something that's so central to your life, that you spend multiple hours a day with it, it's probably worth understanding. Yeah.

Chris Martin 42:04
And so I would say if you're wondering, I don't really know if this books for me, it may be hard for you to read. I'm not saying it's gonna be easy. It may be hard for you to read. But life is about doing hard things. And I would say if you're maybe concerned about doing it, because it might be difficult. Ask yourself, has social media made me averse to doing hard things? Do I just want to do things that are easy and comfortable? I would say that's one effect of our relationship with social media.

Michelle Rayburn 42:28
Yeah, I asked you to share that because I'm a picky book reader. And I really liked what I've seen in the draft, and I'm somebody who doesn't like to be salesy, either. And I've seen how this can influence whole families. And here's why. I don't even normally go into this much talking about a person's book, but it affects how I would parent. So for the parents out there who feel as if they know nothing—I'm a techy person. So I stay up on a lot of stuff on social media, but most of my friends who have teenage kids go, I don't know, it's just the stuff on their phone. If that's you, as a parent, you need the book, because it's going to help you to really understand what the what your kids are doing. If you are me who's really into technology, it's going to wake you up a little bit to say, oh, yeah, I've given it a lot more leeway in my life than I need to. So I think that's why it has a double impact. And so it's a helpful book that way.

Michelle Rayburn 43:24
So Terms Of Service: The Real Cost Of Social Media. The other thing I discovered is that you Chris, have a really helpful blog, and you have a lot of things on there. So it's sort of hiding out there. And that's at Terms of Service dot. What was social, that social? That's right, it wasn't dot com, articles, really kind of a mix of things about social media about current events. There was some humor and cartoons and all kinds of things. So anyway, if you're somebody who would prefer to get things to your inbox, instead of messing around with social media, there, it's right there. It's the first thing that pops up. So I encourage listeners to go there too. Chris, do you have a word to wrap up today? Just to leave with our listeners?

Chris Martin 44:13
Yeah, I just mean, if you've made it this far, thank you for listening. Yeah, yeah. I mean, if you're still listening, and you're hearing this last word, just thanks. Thanks for giving me your time. I recognize that time is the most valuable, and time and our attention, which is also the theme in the book is the most valuable asset all of us have. If you spend $500 willy nilly and you kind of regret it, you can make $500 back, you can figure that out. You can't make your time and attention back all of us have a kind of a set amount and we don't know how much we have, but you can't generate more of it. And if you're sitting here and listening in or in your car, however you're listening, I just want to thank you for giving me and Michelle some of your time because frankly that's the most valuable asset you have.

Chris Martin 45:01
And I hope that for you, if you're listening here, you don't feel discouraged or feel upset or like you need to abandon your connection to friends and family around the world through these platforms. But my hope is that you maybe feel a little bit charged and a little bit energized, to take back maybe a little bit of control. And when you consider how valuable your time and attention are, start to ask if you're spending that in the way that best suits you and best helps and serves your family. I think all of us are here, for any number of specific reasons. But for a general reason of using the gifts God has given us to serve other people and ultimately, to show people the kingdom of God. And I think that our relationship with social media, and how we use it is central to stewarding the gifts God has given us to serve others and to serve him.

Chris Martin 46:00
And so my hope is that if you listen to this, and you've gotten this far, that you maybe feel a little bit more motivated to evaluate the role that social media plays in not only your personal life and your relationship, but the sort of commission and mission that you've been given as a follower of Christ. So hopefully, you're not discouraged, or you're not maybe too optimistic, either. But you're just kind of charged and you're ready, you're ready to take matters into your own hands, and maybe take a little bit of time back into your own hands too.

Michelle Rayburn 46:32
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today. And also for taking all that valuable time to write this book to provide a resource for people to navigate that social internet space a little bit better.

Chris Martin 46:44
Of course, thank you so much for having me. It's been it's been a joy.

Michelle Rayburn 46:48
If you're hoping to get the book that Chris talked about and some of the other resources he shared, you'll find links to that in the show notes at Thanks for listening and have a great week.

Michelle Rayburn 47:01
You've been listening to Life Repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources and inspiration at to get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode, graphics you can share and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the Life Repurposed Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurpose life. Before you go. Which friend needs to hear this episode? Share a link with a note to invite them to listen.

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