To be honest, every time Kim Kardashian or her husband move center stage to pontificate through words, tweets, and/or photos, I will look for a split-second. . . and then quickly put my attention elsewhere. For one, it’s typically more of the same that we’ve heard over and over before. Second, I see them as both cause and effect of some of the most insidious cultural shifts. And third, the more I look the sadder I get. . . for them, for their followers, and for our culture at large.
Of course, you’d have to be living without electricity in today’s world of instant information to have missed the story of Kardashian being bound and robbed earlier this week in Paris. While Kardashian escaped with her life, the quintet of robbers got away with an estimated 11 million dollars worth of her jewelry.
This morning, my curiosity got the best of me and I went for the first time to Kim Kardashian’s twitter page. This is one of her multitude of media outlets used to promote herself. . . or maybe we should say promoting her “brand” to her own financial and fame advantage. As of this morning, she’s thrown out 22.5 Thousand tweets, and she currently has almost 44.5 million followers.
What are those followers seeing, hearing, and learning from Kardashian as she leads? Rather than scrolling through over 22 thousand tweets, just take a look at the page header she’s got sitting at the top of the page today. It’s animated. . . featuring her face, her chest, her posterior, a smart-phone, and paper currency with her face in the center. . . among other things. It not only trumpets what’s central to Kardashian’s carefully curated brand, but what an army of followers is being taught to value, pursue, and become if they are to (they are led to believe) settle into an identity that will bring meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and redemption.
The reality is that Kim Kardashian and the events of this week can and should be used to spark some teachable moment conversations to point kids away from this spiritual dead-end and on to things that are good, true, right, and honorable. The reality is that in a day and age where our Christian kids tend to follow adult examples (that’s us!) into a fragmented and dis-integrated faith, most of them have never been challenged to stand outside of themselves to see just how they might be buying into the kind of lies promoted by Kardashian, even as they might deny doing that vehemently.
So, for parents and youth workers. . . how and what can we talk about?
First, work to get to the heart of the matter. As Jesus said, it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. In today’s world, tweets flow from that same overflowing heart. What then, are the heart-commitments of Kardashian based on her heart’s overflow? Deconstructing that Twitter page header (only with parental permission and only with those who have already seen it) could keep you talking for quite some time. Compare that with what Jesus says our heart commitments should be.
Second, chat a bit about the matter of identity. Where does Kardashian find her identity? How do we spend time, effort, and money to pursue/create our identity? Where should we be finding our identity?
Third, address the issue of materialism. What does Kardashian flaunt in terms of her stuff? What do the Gospels say about material things and materialism?
Finally, talk about the power and perils of social media when it is used incorrectly. Like Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian is only famous for being famous. And, she became famous because of, like Hilton, a sex tape. Her fame has not increased by accident. It’s by effort and design. Our discussions shouldn’t just center on the foolishness of flaunting millions of dollars of jewelry and letting people know where you are while you’re wearing it. Rather, we should talk about how overuse and misuse of social media robs us of time, relationships, and our very souls.
On the same day that Kardashian was robbed, a daily devotional guide pointed me to Luke 14 and these words of Jesus: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
If that’s true, why are we and our kids pursuing the things we pursue? Our calling is to pursue and please God rather than to promote our selves and our misdirected desires.