So we come once again to that annual festival of the ‘celebration of nothing’, otherwise known as New Year, an artificial date with no meaning (it is not even midwinter). As we do so I am reminded once again of Aldous Huxley the writer of “Brave New World” a story of a futuristic, totalitarian and dysfunctional society, who was said to be fearful that in the future ‘Earth’ would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance, for which read ‘the Trivial’.
With the torrent of alleged ‘Reality’ TV shows, which are actually not real at all but contrived, the cult of celebrity, political ‘popularity contests’, the vacuous nature of much social media content, the sensationalising of most news ‘reporting’, it can be argued that we are indeed already drowning in a sea of irrelevance, superficiality and trivia.
A ‘Celebrity’ has been defined by Daniel Boorstein as “a person well known for their well-known-ness”, i.e. for nothing of substance. Yet ‘celebrities’ are paraded before us by the media in every aspect of life, as people we should value, and seek to be like. The ‘Reality’ is the truth that ‘celebrity’ is a façade surrounding an empty space, its content is ‘trivialised nothingness’. It has also been said that the worth of a ‘celebrity’ is measured by the three ‘Fs’ i.e. how many followers, friends and fans they have, a meaningless measure of value. Yet people are marked, rated on this basis. Our culture seems to be fascinated by shallow ‘stars’ mostly being well-known for being ‘well-known’ and who often “exhibit very little talent, intelligence or qualities worth aspiring to” (Boorstein).
It is distressing and tragic to see our society being deluded in this way, but it should not be surprising, after all delusion and deceit are Satan’s core business (See Genesis 3:1-7). However, it is more so to see those who call themselves Christian being sucked into the same things.
The message of the ‘celebrity’ is ‘look at me, aren’t I good, see what I’m doing’ etc, no matter how banal, trivial, unimportant and insubstantial. Yet a brief look at Facebook reveals Christians doing the same thing, with pictures of selves, quotes, place dropping (checking in)—all crying out ‘look at me’. Yes, social media can be and is used for straight communication of things others need to know, but for Christians it should not be for self promotion or ‘look-at-me-ism’.
The God of the Bible is a God who is ‘Truth’ (John 14:6), who is the ultimate in ‘Substance’, and who is the ultimate ‘Reality’ and in whose image Christians are being recreated (Colossians 3:10). Therefore we should be those who deal in ‘Reality’, ‘Substance’ and ‘Truth’, and not be allowing ourselves to be drowned in the irrelevance of trivia, shallowness and the superficiality of the celebrity cult. God honouring social media posts will not draw attention to us and what we are doing, rather to God and what he is doing, and if we are truly involved in His work then we will have plenty to say in that regard.
Christians are citizens of heaven, a citizenship won at the great cost of Jesus blood, and do not live in a ‘Brave New World’ of empty nothingness, rather in the new world of God’s Kingdom. Therefore the Christian life is not about self and what we do but about Jesus and what he has done. It is not about trivia but about proclaiming the God and His Christ who is the ultimate reality, and it is about the God who is ‘Truth’, not superficiality, deception, spin and media emptiness.