The social media problem: A conversation with Dr. Katie Frugé

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The social media problem: A conversation with Dr. Katie Frugé

February 20, 2023 -

The Denison Forum Podcast discusses timely news and relevant topics with biblical insight. Hosted by Dr. Mark Turman and featuring Dr. Jim Denison, plus guests on occasion, this weekly, discussion-oriented podcast will help Christians further develop a biblical worldview on current events, equipping them to be salt and light for Christ.

The Denison Forum Podcast discusses timely news and relevant topics with biblical insight. Hosted by Dr. Mark Turman and featuring Dr. Jim Denison, plus guests on occasion, this weekly, discussion-oriented podcast will help Christians further develop a biblical worldview on current events, equipping them to be salt and light for Christ.

The Denison Forum Podcast discusses timely news and relevant topics with biblical insight. Hosted by Dr. Mark Turman and featuring Dr. Jim Denison, plus guests on occasion, this weekly, discussion-oriented podcast will help Christians further develop a biblical worldview on current events, equipping them to be salt and light for Christ.

Dr. Katie Frugé, Dr. Mark Turman, and Mark Legg discuss why new technology shapes the culture war, the positives and negatives of social media, why algorithms require more regulation, and how parents should navigate social media.

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Show notes:

Dr. Katie Frugé talks about her background in seminary and her multi-faceted job as the Director of the Center for Cultural Engagement at the BGCT (1:33). She talks about the so-called culture wars and how social media changes the landscape of public discourse (10:52). She discusses social media algorithms, needed regulation, and tech exploiting sin nature (19:19). Dr. Frugé continues by explaining the upsides to social media and why we’re more connected than ever, but also lonelier than every (28:40). They discuss how rapidly technology advances and the generational gaps in understanding about social media (35:44). Dr. Frugé ends by covering some basic rules for parenting and how to navigate the often dark world of tech, facing the potential dangers of pornography and sexual grooming (42:54)

Resources and further reading:

About the hosts

Mark Turman, DMin, is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.

Mark Legg is an Associate Editor for Denison Forum. He graduated from Dallas Baptist University in 2021 with a degree in Philosophy and Biblical Studies.

About the guest

Katie Frugé, Ph.D., earned her Master of Divinity degree and Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Katie Frugé has been named director of Texas Baptists’ Center for Cultural Engagement and the Christian Life Commission. Frugé began her service with the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 2019 as the hunger and human care specialist with the CLC. She later took on the role of associate director of the CLC.


Transcribed by


Mark Turman  00:10

Welcome back to the Denison Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director of Denison forum. We’re glad to have you with us for another conversation today. I’m sitting down again with Mark Legg, the Associate Editor here at Denison Forum. Say hello, Mark — good morning Mark. And we’re glad to have the opportunity to talk today to Katie Fruge– Katie Did I say the last name correctly?


Katie Frugé  00:33

You already get bonus points as we’re getting ready for this


Mark Turman  00:36

Well, if that little, little hash mark above the E was the thing that tipped me off, but Katie is someone that I met in the last year or so and getting to know her. She has a big, big responsibility and an even longer title. Katie is the director of the Center for Cultural Engagement with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, also known as the Texas Baptist Convention, which is all very confusing if you’re not, as the three of us are from the the branch of Christianity known as Southern Baptists. So Katie, can you explain that in a moment, but before you do so, tell us a little bit about you and the the adventure and journey that brought you to the role that you have now. Anything you want to share about that in terms of background?


Katie Frugé  01:33

Yeah, thanks for having me this morning. As you said, I am a believer in Christ follower, I have a fantastic family. And I’m thankful for the legacy and heritage I have. My Texas Baptist roots run deep. My grandfather taught at Southwestern Seminary in the music department for 30 years and family. Also in the Lockheed Martin area in the DFW, if you’re familiar with that landscape, and just really had a great time, just fully felt rooted in my faith pretty early on, went to college and met my husband there. So we’re college sweethearts, we have been happily married for about 15 years now. And when we both met, we both knew we wanted to do ministry, when we had no idea what that was going to look like. And we just knew we wanted to do life together. So we kind of have just been following the next step that God has given us. And so 15 years later, we’ve got three beautiful little girls, and two of them have special needs. And two of them, especially I were seminary babies is what we call them. And I was I carried them all the pregnancies. And actually, one of them’s due date was on the first day of my last semester in my PhD. So that was a really fun experience. And then I was secretly pregnant, pregnant and didn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant with our third the day I graduated with my PhD. So, you know, it’s been a bit of a journey for us. But particularly having two children with special needs has really been impactful in the way that I’ve understood ministry and the assignment that God has given me for His kingdom. So one of the most foundational elements for me and my, not only my research and study, but also my passion for cultural engagement is this idea of human dignity and flourishing. We don’t do a very good job, sometimes understanding human dignity and the concept of disability, and advocacy and how those things intersect sometimes. And so that’s really kind of where my passion and excitement for cultural issues and cultural engagement started, was just this bedrock foundation of human dignity and kind of diving into this idea of the image of God. And what does it mean to be made as an image bearer of, of God? And what are the implications for it? What does that look like in the real world where the rubber hits the road? I have a PhD in systematic theology. So obviously, I like theology, but if it just stays, excuse me, if it just stays at that high level, and doesn’t trickle down to have an impact on our world, it’s really meaningless. And I just think of James to, I will show you my faith by my works. And so that’s really where my passion is. And so as we’ve kind of evolved in our understanding of what God has called me to do, clearly, as you’ve already mentioned, he brought me to the Baptist general convention of Texas. And so we found ourselves just kind of looking at the landscape of our passions and excitements, and I found the role within the bgct, just to be exactly what God has placed me, and it aligns with my passion so beautifully. So if you think about the Baptist general convention of Texas, you’re like, What in the world is that? What do they do? Well, it’s kind of like asking, what is the city of Dallas do like they’re doing a lot of things, and doing a lot all at the same time. So the way that the convention currently is organized, is we’re kind of organized by centers, and there’s five centers, and I have the privilege of serving as the Director for the Center for Cultural Engagement. And so within that field, a lot of people question like, well, what is even cultural engagement mean? And that’s a tricky question as well, because for some people, culture is the intersection of the sacred and the secular. For some people culture could be the representation of who I am and what makes me unique and the heritage and the traditions that I’m bringing to the table. And so within our Center for Cultural Engagement, we kind of do both. And so we celebrate and have ministries that are representative of the cultural background they have. So just in this last week, I’ve had a meeting with pastors who are passionate about reaching believers in North Korea and trying to brainstorm about ways that we can respectfully but like, intentionally try to get gospel messages into the North Korea kind of wall. So that’s a fun thing. But also in the last week, I had meetings with state policy leaders talking about public policy priorities and how we’re going to advocate and bring our voice to the capitol and making sure that our legislators know of the things that are important to Texas Baptists, and trying to articulate that well in a respectful way, but making sure that we’ve got a place at that table as well.


Mark Turman  05:37

Well, that that’s a lot. Right. It is.


Mark Legg  05:41

Very easy to I think getting the gospel to North Korea sounds like a pretty easy Yeah,


Katie Frugé  05:44

no, no big deal. Yeah.


Mark Turman  05:47

Probably Probably not going to raise the attention or ire of anybody. Right?


Katie Frugé  05:51

Not at all. Not at all. Yeah. Well, that.


Mark Turman  05:54

That sounds like a very interesting and multifaceted kind of experience, right? Doesn’t that sound like something that we’re, you get bored doing the same thing day in and day out?


Katie Frugé  06:07

It keeps me on my toes, for sure. But I think at the end of the day, what’s exciting is its opportunity to reach beyond the four walls of the church and get creative in the way that God has called us to do ministry. And that’s what really kind of gets me excited and going every day.


Mark Turman  06:20

So I have a, you know, we get spin well, and we probably should, at a later time, do an entire conversation, perhaps with Dr. Dennison, about the image of God that is foundational, and like you said, fun, fundamental to our faith and to so much of what both you’re doing and what we’re doing at Denison forum that is just such a huge concept. You know, I’m sure you boiled it down to a couple of paragraphs in your dissertation. Right? Yeah. Really easy.


Katie Frugé  06:47

It’s a quick read. Yeah.


Mark Turman  06:49

So we’ll look for an opportunity to dive into that. But I also wanted to ask, because I’ve already noticed a similarity between you and Dr. Dennison. And just tell me, is it in? Is it an indication that you’re a PhD with theology or philosophy that you talk really fast? Because Oh, no, I noticed that you and Dr. Dennison talk really, really fast.


Katie Frugé  07:12

You know, I think we all have to have a thorn in our flesh. And this is mine. It is plagued me since high school. And I will try to be intentional and slowing down. But I listened to myself and recordings. And I’m like, I’m not nervous. Why am I talking so fast? I don’t understand. I think we’ve just got a lot inside of us pent up and we’ve just got to get it out as quickly as possible. That’s my best theory. At least. Yeah.


Mark Legg  07:35

Dr. Dennison has been writing an article every day for the past several years and still hasn’t finished with what all he has to say.


Mark Turman  07:43

So let’s write. Yeah. And yeah, so I, you know, I get to hear people commenting and giving me feedback about our podcasts and, and I already know that they’re going to be saying what they say every time they listen to when he and I have a conversation, which is, could you tell him to slow down a little bit. So I can actually, like, comprehend what he’s trying to tell me because I know it’s really good and really important. So you know, so you’re not alone. It just, it must be something about that whole PhD dissertation experience. And then when you know, I’m just trying to wrap my brain around having two babies in seminary, which those of us who have been to seminary, just it’s, you know, it’d be hard enough to be a seminary student, harder still to be a PhD seminary student, unbelievably hard to do that, and have two pregnancies and be Yeah, so we already consider you a superhero in that regard.


Katie Frugé  08:44

You can also consider me highly caffeinated and sleep deprived.


Mark Turman  08:49

Well, that probably makes you the thing most identifiable with this culture. Right. So I we’re gonna talk a little bit about technology this morning, and maybe get to some other conversations as well, but I’m gonna throw you a small curveball, all right. Oh, no. Okay. And it has to do with this idea of culture, because we’re constantly talking about culture. And I want I want to ask you to give us just a few of your thoughts about this term that’s seems to be floating around all the time right now, which is the term culture war. One things we talked about at Denison forum is that culture is downstream from faith that is our core understanding of our faith and our values. That that’s really the source of so much of what we’re about and what we get engaged in what we’re drawn to, as you said about passions and interest and places where we want to try to help the world be better. But both in environments like the church, the local church and in denominational content such as a state Baptist Convention like you work for, and certainly within the larger scope of like national politics. In all of those environments, we hear this terminology of culture war tossed around, some people say it, I’ve experienced it, some people saying it in kind of a scoffing way, dismissive. Like, there’s nothing to that there’s no such thing as a culture war. And then I’ve had other people on the far other extreme that like this is the essence of the whole battle of life. And that this is where the, you know, this is what it means to be in the trenches for your faith and, and working for the Kingdom of God. frame that for us. And for our audience a little bit how you look at that terminology of culture war.


Katie Frugé  10:52

In general, when we talk about culture, I really, I generally try to shy away from this idea of culture war, because when I look at the messaging of Christ, it’s about the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of, of peace and love. And I really want to represent that in my Christian faith, even if I’m trying to stand for truth stand for biblical principles that I believe are appropriate within the public sphere. I don’t want to do it in a combative way. Because I’m not sure many people have ever been won over just by a mean meme, or, you know, an ugly snide comment on Facebook, which more often than not, when we’re talking about culture war, that’s the ideology or the the, the stigma that kind of comes along with that we think of somebody who’s really harsh and brash, or somebody that’s just generally kind of a nasty person or mean. And so, especially in my engagement with people, I want to get away from that. But at the same time, I want to be very clear with people that just because we disagree doesn’t mean that I hate you, or that, you know, because we’ve also got this idea and culture that to disagree with me is to hate me, you either have to fully affirm what I’m saying. And if you don’t, then you’re totally against me, and you’re my enemy. And you have all these wicked and evil thoughts for me. And I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, we’ve got to slow this down and bring this back some this polarization that we’re seeing within culture, this idea of culture war, I think is really unhelpful, just for having healthy discussions and conversations saying, look, we’ve been meeting in the public meeting market space of ideas for years, we look at the scripture, and they met at Mars Hill, right? And that’s where they would talk and engage and probably had, quote, unquote, culture war conversations, trying to say, well, you think this and I think this and how do we navigate these things. But from Mars Hill to my space to the metaverse or wherever we’re meeting in this market space of ideas, I try as best I can, when I’m engaging with people to reflect the love and compassion of Christ, even when we’re having to speak hard truths and making sure that I don’t buy into this narrative that just because I disagree with you, I’m your enemy, or that we can’t have civil Christ honoring conversations, to engage in this particular topic, even if it’s a hot topic that you’re passionate about, I think our common denominator is being made in the image of God, children of our Savior, that gives us some kind of an umbrella of identity that we can connect with. Now, they may not want to have that with me, but as best as I can, I try to extend that out to them. And I hope that that in some way is also a gospel witness with people


Mark Legg  13:20

no more. And I know that Jim likes to switch from this idea of being a cultural warrior to being a cultural missionary. And exactly, that kind of mentality really helps switch that because a missionary doesn’t just say, you do you and I do me, and we can just live and let live that that is a part of loving, but there’s another step, which is to actually speak something that’s truth, and try to communicate and go back and forth. And I think of all is a huge biography of Paul by theologian NT, right, and that our audience should look at, but he talks about Paul being in the markets like yes, and actually speaking to everyday people as he’s trying to, you know, ostensibly, he’s trying to sell tents that he made, you know, for years and just talking there or talking with people, as you say, on Mars Hill, or maybe talking in synagogues a lot. And so now I would this my act is to transition a little bit. Now that we have the digital social media side of this is where our marketplace is, this is where our kind of discourse of ideas unfortunately, we’ll see how Twitter holds up. But you know, people think of Twitter kind of as this public market space of ideas and communication. And so what do you how how has that affected the way we communicate if we think about instead of the marketplace or synagogue or church or wherever we want to think about those kinds of ideas taking place now, whether we like it or not, it’s happening on social media, and how has that changed the landscape?


Katie Frugé  14:57

I think the most important landscape that we need To be aware of is that transitioning from a tangible place like Mars Hill to a digital place like social media, we’re on rented ground. And they’re going to be certain rules and guidelines that we’re just not going to have control over. And it’s going to be a volleying game of who’s in power and who has control as to the moderation and the content that’s consumed in that platform. I’m all for social media presence. I’m on Twitter, I’m on all those things. But I’m always trying to remind people to be aware that someone is always going to be moderating someone is always watching because we’re on rented space. We don’t own this space, Twitter owns Twitter, or Elon, and at the time of this recording, Elon, for the moment, yeah, Elon owns Twitter. And you know, Facebook is owned by Mehta and it and those are private companies, at least right now. And there’s a lot of complications that go into policymaking with that. But we have to be cognizant of the fact that this is rented space that we’re occupying. And it’s not a free for all, I don’t know if we want it to be a free for all. But the content that we’re consuming is cultivated, there’s a lot of very intelligent programs that go into making sure that we see it there. And so I always, even as a parent talking to my children about the content they’re consuming in the way that she engages with her classmates online and things. Just to be very careful and aware, I’m not against it. But I call for very conscious consumption of social media and engagement of social media, knowing that there’s a lot of things going on on the back end.


Mark Turman  16:34

And I think that’s a great point that both of your are helping us understand, I think, most of us just kind of intuitively, or without really thinking about it as the advent of things like social media came, we just assumed that this was not rented space, we assumed it was common owned space, right? Because we don’t like you know, like to use the biblical story that y’all have been referencing, in the book of Acts, it’d be it’d be like, the owner of the, I think is Tiran. Is hall right on Mars Hill where Paul gathered, it’d be like, okay, whoever owned and built, that building now gets to come in and have some significant influence on Well, who’s going to be in this building? And what conversations are going to have? We’re going to have and what crosses a boundary that says, Okay, well, that’s we’re not going to have that kind of conversation here. That would be the aspect that you’re referencing, and that I think most of us just didn’t even think we thought, Well, no, this this is like, you know, standing out on the sidewalk. And, and this should be, in most people’s minds kind of this completely free for all free speech environment. And what we’re seeing now, some ways probably good in some ways, probably maybe not so good. Is this, this coming back to No, these are private entity companies, and you don’t have to participate. But they, they have some voice in some way as to what conversations are happening. And now the government’s come in. And, you know, in the last couple of years, there’s been this growing conversation about, hey, like other industries and other companies, maybe there needs to be some rules that the government puts in place. Absolutely. And, and we’re trying to sort that out, right.


Katie Frugé  18:29

And it’s messy, because like many things it got ahead of us. And so we’re really reacting at this point to where we’re at not being prophylactic and thinking ahead of what issues may come at us. So in many ways, a lot of the reactions we’re seeing, even right now with Twitter, and moderation. It’s reactionary, we’re looking back at things that are sometimes years old. And so trying to figure out, okay, this happened, how do we go forward now, because I do believe moderation is important. And we want to make sure that we’re, you know, not allowing certain things within certain platforms. However, we also see that that can be abused, and it can go to extremes on both sides of it. And so how do we help this wild wild west of tech? And get ahead of it at this point? It’s kind of a little bit like kind of herding kittens or something akin to that.


Mark Turman  19:19

Yeah, or bigger cats, in some cases bigger? Yeah. So let me let me take us around a little bit, through a couple things we’ve already mentioned. One is is Mark and I had a conversation with another author recently, part of that conversation referenced a book you may be familiar with Jonathan heights book, The coddling of the American mind. Part of what he talks about in pretty significant depth in that book is this mentality of thinking too far in the extreme that everything is about us in them that all of life is about us in them some of what you were talking about a minute ago, and I think it’s just a word for us to continue to sound especially within the church and then in the believing community. Yes, there is what you might call militaristic language within the Bible, right? There is this idea of putting on the armor of Christ that we talked about in Ephesians, six and taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, we, we see that kind of imagery. And because Paul was living in basically an occupied territory, where Roman, the Roman government was all around and wasn’t afraid to flex its authority, you just see a lot of those kinds of images. But I think Hiatt who is not even speaking from a faith perspective helps us to realize you can’t see everything in that lens. And you can, you’re gonna make a mistake if you turn all of life into an us and them kind of experience.


Katie Frugé  20:53

And I think, to your point here, this is where being aware of the tech algorithms and the way social media works is so crucial, because many of the algorithms especially on platforms, like Instagram, and Facebook, will boost issues that get better engagement. And the best way to get engagement is to militarize or sensationalized or go to the extremes, because somebody sees like, Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe they said that, I’m going to comment on it, then the algorithm, see, wow, if I boost this, it gets this much of a return on comments and engagements. And so we kind of are feeding this machine saying, Well, I like to comment on these types of things. So it keeps putting it in front of us. So there’s, there’s some very advanced technology that’s going on. Even in this process, I was talking to one person who works for a social media company. And he told me, I get better engagement when I put negative controversial things out there. And my job is all about meeting my metrics. And so I don’t like that I have to do it. But that’s what I do to meet the metrics. And I thought that was so telling.


Mark Turman  21:52

Yeah. So it’s kind of like that journalistic idea of if it if it bleeds, it leads. And so you know, and I see that, you know, we’ve all kind of been trained by this, whether it was the major news outlets, or the many more that have come from from earlier days to now, you can almost predict what an evening newscast is going to be about, they’re going to tell me 12 Really bad things. And then they’re going to give me a heartwarming story at the end. Right at the point we’re about ready to give us all hope on the world. At the last minute, if I stay with them, they’re going to tell me something really heartwarming that maybe gives me a glimmer of hope. And if I understand you, right, you’re saying that’s basically the same kind of environment that you’re experiencing in social media? My question would be, do you think that that’s ultimately possibly going to be the demise of social media? And then also, do you think that that’s something that should be more exposed and even possibly regulated that these algorithms work in a certain way, and that that needs to be better understood, better revealed?


Katie Frugé  23:03

100%. I think that as far as regulations go, that’s one of the first places I would love to see better moderation and regulation, transparency, and what the algorithms are doing, what they’re boosting, and shaping the way we engage with one another. I can just spent a whole lot of time there. But it’s just so crucial to be at the very least aware of that, so that as we’re discipling, and going into our churches, helping them understand what the technology is doing, and how that itself may be informing and discipling them and understand just even being cognizant of that is a really good first step, because so often, I’ll talk with people who don’t even understand that the information they’re consuming, or the way they’re engaging on social media is curated for them. They just think it’s something that I’m in charge of that. Or maybe I coincidentally came across this, there are no coincidences and social media. And if you are coming across something, if something’s getting put in front of you, it’s because the system, either thought you wouldn’t like it, or you’ve inadvertently told them, This is the kind of information I like, so it’s going to feed you more of it. I think that’s a huge place that we need to do better as far as educating ourselves discipling others and making sure they’re aware of that, because they are being discipled by it, whether they’re aware of it or not.


Mark Legg  24:17

Yeah. And often when I’ve looked at this in the past, I think, what the easiest way to explain to people, the motivations of these companies is to say that they are selling your attention. Mm hmm. And I think I don’t remember where I heard that first, I was just trying to remember back but that idea that their entire company is built around you attending to their app or their web page or whatever it may be to get more of these clicks. But something that I have heard and I want to get your thoughts on and as as a bit of a devil’s advocate and this is what meta will say right is that this is inherent to human nature, that people using this kind rhetoric that people fighting and Culture Wars is not inherent to social media. And as a point for that thinking, I was reading an axe about when Paul was taken before some of the religious leaders. And he sees that there are Pharisees and Sadducees, sitting together accusing him. And he makes this cowboy little play to say like, well, the real reason that you’re bringing me before that you’re accusing me is because I believe in life after death. And then that caused this division between the Sadducees and Pharisees, one who believed that there was one who believed that there wasn’t, and it was just genius, little way to get them out of it, because he made them argue, but it just makes me think that’s kind of like two groups erupting at each other, not able to kind of come under a common goal. And so So I guess my question is, how much do you see of this being inherent in social media, and how much of this can we as believers say, this is just magnified, or this is just how humans have always been, it just looks a little bit different. And we can chalk this up to kind of sin nature.


Katie Frugé  26:03

I definitely think sin nature is a part of it. And I wouldn’t disagree with metta if they came at me with that. However, I would also counter that there’s a difference between acknowledging is a quirk of the human condition, if we want to be a talk on meta terms. There’s also a difference between exploiting it and trying to make money off of it. In especially within the field of tech, and especially social media, since that’s kind of what we’re talking about right here. People are the commodities and the companies are making their money off the people. And when that’s coming at a cost for us, we think that we’re consuming social media and it’s free to us, it’s not free, we’re selling something in return for it. And Mehta, all these other companies are exploitive, and the way that they try to boost that engagement, because what they really want at the end of the date is more people and more consumption.


Mark Turman  26:51

So let me just try to make sure that I’m tracking with y’all Okay. When I get when, when, when Mark says that what they’re selling is they’re selling my attention, or our attention, okay. But just make sure everybody understands what they’re who they’re selling my attention to are their advertisers, right. And this is really what we see in in the space of social media is more of a more granular reality that was already going on, let’s just say with television and with television journalism, and with even selling newspapers, if anybody listening to us still remembers what a newspaper is, right? Where you actually read stories in very small print. And, you know, I woke up my entire first two decades of my life, I woke up to my mother and my father sitting at the breakfast table. And the first thing that signaled the beginning of the day was the guy threw this paper onto the front porch, right? And, and I, I can remember on days like today, where my parents would be irritated if the newspaper got wet from the rain, and they would literally stick it in the oven to dry it out.


Katie Frugé  28:05

Wow. So that since I did not know that you,


Mark Turman  28:09

I mean, you guys are not old enough to know this. But if a newspaper is wet, you can’t unfold it without tearing it. So you have to find a way to dry it. And in those days, the oven was the particular thing that you did, you just slid the thing in there, like a cookie sheet, warmed up the oven until the pages dried out enough that you could actually start your day the right way by.


Katie Frugé  28:33

Okay. my defense, I do have a paper copy of The Wall Street Journal right over here, I get the Sunday edition. That’s all I get.


Mark Turman  28:40

Okay, well, I’m just glad that you didn’t say a copy of The Wall Street Journal from 1981. That’s, that’s what I was worried you were gonna say. But But newspapers did this radio that this television still does this. They all curate what we see to a certain extent. And, you know, even today, major news outlets, you know, they still have the evening news at 530. And, you know, if you just everybody’s learned, right, if you go from one station to the next, or you’re getting like I do multiple news newsletters in my email, it’s, you know, they’ll all cover the same stories for the most part, right? And they’ll typically take a different approach to it, but they’re trying to sell that to advertisers so that they then get money to stay in business and continue to do what they do. And there is this human propensity certainly to be more attentive to the negative rather than the positive, right. A Swedish guy by the name of Hans Rosling wrote about this in a book called fact fulness that we are drawn to the dramatic and we are drawn to the negative But As believers, we need to become more aware of that. And we need to realize that the that the devil is trying to take us down that road for his agenda. Yeah, and, and now technology and things that technology enables, like social media can really be used in, in significantly harmful ways in that way. Getting in this conversation, particularly while we’re on the social media side of this, what do you think are the upsides to social media and the technology that drives it?


Katie Frugé  30:39

I think the upside is just how easy it is to connect with one another. We are social and nature, God has created us to live in community with one another. And social media has made that so easy to do. And I’m thankful for that it’s so fun to be able to, you know, hop onto my Facebook and see what my roommate from 20 years ago is doing right now with her home that she’s building, I love to be able to connect and show other people what my family is doing. So many people when I was pregnant with my first daughter, we had a pretty high risk pregnancy. And social media is the vehicle with which we shared our story. And we had people literally around the world praying for us. And we were overwhelmed with the response that we got from the body of Christ. And they learned about us because we just shared it on social media, I didn’t have the ability to create my own website. And I definitely didn’t have the microphone to be able to just share with 1000s of people, Hey, we need prayer. But just sharing our story in a very simple way on social media allowed it to travel literally, to places I never could have imagined. And consequently, we felt the body of Christ around us in a incredible way, especially during that early pregnancy. facing such a shelter crisis situation, that was a real interesting moment to see the best of social media and the way that it can really help us and connect with one another. So I think that there’s some real value there to be able to stay connected. But I think where the challenge lies, is that making sure that it doesn’t just stay on social media, it’s people coming alongside you and praying for you. And but then reaching out and letting you know, hey, I prayed for you today. And that just kind of keeping it at that surface level. So I think it’s a great entry point. For great relationships. I think it’s a great way to connect with people. I think it’s great for networking, I have learned so much about ministry opportunities through social media, being able to tell the stories of what we’re doing at Texas Baptist. We tell that on social media for 1000s of years, we’ve been storytellers that’s part of the human nature as well. And so social media is a great place to be a storyteller and tell your story and the work of what God is doing in your life and the kingdom a community around you. So I think that there’s I think there’s enough positive elements to it to keep it around. We just need to be wise with it.


Mark Turman  32:50

Yeah, can you speak to that a little bit, because Mark, and I’ve done some research in this area. Some of the numbers are staggering, right? That we’re seeing teenagers. Basically people who are between the ages of 10 and 25, or even 10 to 30, if you want to put it now being called the Gen Z group, we’re seeing some numbers that are staggering that they that they will spend time, somewhere between four and eight hours a day, just completely discretionary time engaged in a screen. And particularly engaged in social media. That’s not all that they’re doing. They’re going to watch videos on YouTube. And like the rest of us, they all love a good cat or dog video, right? But they’re carrying out so much of their relational world, in this aspect, but you made a comment a moment ago, I wanted to pick up on which is that it is a great kind of introduction to certain kinds of relationships, or to certain people and to certain ministries and that type of thing. But as you said, it shouldn’t stop there. And it shouldn’t be by understand you’re right, it shouldn’t be the whole of our relational environment. Can you kind of unpack that a little bit?


Katie Frugé  34:07

I think that this really hits to the point that the great conundrum of social media, we’re more connected than ever, and we’re more lonely than ever. And that’s people have constantly gone back and said, How is this possible? And I think it’s exactly this thing. We have people who are online all the time, they are connected, literally possibly to 1000s of people, but the connection is so shallow. They don’t feel known or seen by any one particular person maybe that you get to see one particular side of me, but I’m going to keep the other side of me shielded. And in a real relationship. You can’t do that you can’t or it’s more difficult. At the very least you could maybe say to build those walls so that maybe only you can know one side of a person and a real relationship. Those walls are really hard to build up and social media just made it really the easiest thing to do that maybe I’ve got a personality on Instagram that you’re going to know me by and this is the only part of my personality You’re gonna know me by, but that that really just slices your your personhood in half because God has created us to be a whole person. And I’m a complex person, I’ve got a lot of different quirks to me. And at the very end of the day, one of the most important pieces to being known as that component of intimacy of being known fully by someone, and I believe that’s one of the relationship, our relationship with Christ is one of the most meaningful, important relationships we have, because only in Christ Jesus, Are we fully truly known and seen. And so I think social media has made being maybe a better word, be like acquaintances are aware of a lot of people, but we’re known by no people. And that’s really the conundrum we find ourselves in when we just keep our relationships at that surface level.


Mark Turman  35:44

So is that something in your work, whether you’re doing it on the legislative level? Are you in active conversations trying to help get to clarity around some healthy forms of regulation? And then, in your work with, with like churches and with pastors? Are you trying to help them understand how they can guide their parents to their families? Hey, here’s some healthy ways to think about, you know, technology broadly and social media more narrowly. You know, it seems like I read a book by Thomas Friedman, not long ago called thank you for being late. And one of the things that Friedman says in this book is that, in his opinion, the smartphone and cloud computing that basically came to us in 2007, he said, I liken that to the discovery of fire. The capacity that we have, on a broad basis, technologically, is just that kind of profound change. And, and we are always drawn in some ways to that which is new, and that which is shiny, and technology. Sure, totally fits that right. But we saw this, you know, I heard somebody just this week talk about? Well, you know, we kind of went through the same experimental phase with television, and we probably did so with radio. And I remember, when I was in Germany a couple of years ago, talking about, you can’t really talk about the Protestant Reformation without also talking about the presence of the Gutenberg Press. Right? Right. And that was the shiny technology of the day. And there would have been significant people who would have said that, you know, people like Martin Luther and other reformers that their use of the printing press was a bad thing, right. But it seems to be this phenomenon that something new like the internet, and like social media, it comes out and we all run to it. And then we we get involved with it. And we find out that some of the ways that we’re using it are really unhealthy and really, actually hurting us. Is that the phase that we’re in? And is that the phase that you’re getting to be a part of those kinds of conversations?


Katie Frugé  38:09

Yeah, one of the biggest conversations, especially as I consider the last 12 months that I’ve had is primarily with parents and helping them even understand the technological landscape that their kids are growing up in. There’s such a huge generational difference between the technological world that my two year old is growing up in versus the world I grew up in versus the world. My, my genetic sister grew up in my my two year old, she’s a pandemic, baby. And she literally met some of her relatives via FaceTime for the first time because we couldn’t gather together, that is her norm. And that was a world that magenic sister couldn’t have even fathom. And it wasn’t that long ago. So Trump, a lot of the conversations right now are just playing catch up to say this is the reality of where we’re at in this moment. It’s even just trying to introduce what the shiny new thing is, because that’s another challenge that technology presents us is it is changing at such a rapid pace. We just can’t keep up with it anymore. If you’re on Facebook, you are not Agenzia I hate to say


Mark Turman  39:13

it, just go ahead and own it. I don’t particularly like social media broadly or generally. And that’s, you know, I’m sorry, that’s if you want to find me, you’ll find me on Facebook. I haven’t figured I haven’t figured out the other ones yet.


Katie Frugé  39:28

I was just talking yesterday though with my niece who is a Gen Z she does not have a Facebook she created a Facebook just so she could oversee the social media for an internship that she has right now. And but she is on Tik Tok. She is on Twitch she’s on all these other ones that it’s just impossible to keep up with. And she was even kind of complaining maybe a little bit to me yesterday. She’s like, I pitched a great idea to my boss, but she doesn’t understand the social media landscape. So she doesn’t even think it’s a good idea because she doesn’t know this and So much of our conversation right now is just catch up at a very basic level, my work with the state convention is just getting that information to our youth pastors, to our church leaders and to parents saying, This is what our kids have in front of them. And it’s really not going to go away anytime soon. I think about the fact that my two in public school right now have a school issued Chromebook. So even if you’re trying to keep technology out of your home, it’s coming to them at school, it’s coming to them at their friend’s house, it’s going to be a part of the world, no matter how much we try to prevent it. It’s just kind of inevitable. So it’s really the challenge is helping our children learn to live with technology with healthy boundaries, versus trying to completely shield away from it. And then on the flip side, yes, 100%. We also want to be communicating with our legislators saying we need better moderation, we need rails for this train, because right now, it is going all over the place. And it’s not to say we want to, you know, sensor people or anything like that, but just saying this is out of hand right now. And we need to have some common sense, human dignity, decency practices in place so that we can have some type of a regulation here so that we can just all run in the same direction, if not running in the same direction, at least have some idea of where everybody’s running, because right now, it’s just kind of all over the place.


Mark Turman  41:18

So Mark is did I hear her say that there’s something called twitch? Yeah. There’s so much of this conversation that makes me so go, am I now? Do I now need to skip like three of the other platforms and go see what Twitch is? And


Mark Legg  41:34

I hate to say it, but Twitch has been around for a while. Okay. Yeah. Nobody told me. Yes. Yes. So, Katie, where do you see you and when you’re working in engaging culture in a very broad way, and you’re talking to parents about how their kids are using social media versus how they’re using social media. Which, by the way, as an aside, I think it’s easy to see all the hours that Gen Z spends on their phone, or spins on screens. But I know that adults are a little bit better, but not a lot better, as far as how much time they spend on social media. And so I wonder, Katie, how much you bring that up with parents saying, How much do you How much time do you spend on Facebook? You know, my mom, I’m really proud of her a couple of years ago, she completely gave up Facebook, she just got off, because she realized she was spending too much time on it, you know? And so, anyway, I wonder, so how do you deal with that practically, when you’re talking with parents? It for people who are listeners who are parents? What are some practical ways some tools that you help? I’m sure that as with anything in parenting, it depends on the age depends on the child. But what are some practical things that you advocate for two parents?


Katie Frugé  42:54

One of the big things that our family does is we really kind of are we’re more technology open than other families are no some approaches are to try to shield. My heart and goal has always been to try to guide my daughters, and how to use social media and not try to keep it away from them. Because I know it’s a reality of the world they’re going to live in. And so the first time you engage with something, I want it to be with me, I want you to ask me questions. So I try to model healthy social media consumption and behavior in front of them. You know, we’ll all sit there together, and I’ll let her literally sit beside me and we’ll watch what I’m doing on social media and we can watch those cat videos together, we’ll open up tick tock, and she’s like, can you find this, but it’s guiding her through that process versus kind of keeping it at arm’s length saying, Oh, no, this is bad, because I know when she goes to her friend’s house, inevitably, some someday it’s gonna happen. Her friends going to open up Tik Tok and say, have you seen Tik Tok? And she’s gonna be like, What is this brand shiny new thing that’s in front of me. So really trying to make sure that the first time that she is exposed to certain things, that I’m a safe person that she knows that she can come to and talk to about that. Not to go too dark. But we also know part of tech, one of the darker sides of tech is issues like the pornography industry that is actively seeking out our children and trying to expose them. It’s a multi billion dollar industry. And it is so dangerous for so many different reasons. So trying to model in the healthiest way. patterns and behaviors to our children is so crucial because things are going to come to them whether it’s content, or comments or something like that. So shepherding them through that, I think is practically one of the most important things versus just saying technology bad. We’re not going to do it in our house, which is Yeah.


Mark Legg  44:44

Oh, yeah. And something that’s interesting stuck out to me about Gen Z. One is that a lot of parents when we were younger, or if you have kids that are the in that 10 teenage range, that a lot of our parents were very good Open with technology very free with technology meaning, and when I say free, I mean, they didn’t, they didn’t do anything with it not just like technology bad, like you’re saying, but they also didn’t even help go through it because they felt so lost, that they didn’t know how to regulate it. But they were over protective in the kind of real world. So you can’t walk in the neighborhood, you can’t. And, and that that kind of over protective in the real world under protective online, led to a lot of I think the demographic differences we see in Gen Z, where we actually don’t fight with our parents as much statistically, we don’t, you know, we were not as rebellious. We, we, you know, they’re all these indicators of that. At the same time, it’s not good not to go too dark, but it is much more likely that your child will be groomed, sexually on online rather than in real life. The truth is, basically, we are much safer than we’ve ever been, I mean, in the real world, but the way that that’s going to happen in the modern world. And if you could speak to that is probably through technology, like you said, bring it up on pornography and things of that nature.


Katie Frugé  46:17

Absolutely. I think grooming is the right word there. And I know that that’s a trigger word when we’re talking about culture wars, but that’s probably the darker corners of the internet. That’s the issues that are very real and actively searching out to expose to children in particular or minors. It’s, it’s just almost terrifying when you kind of look into those darker corners. And that’s why I think conscious and intentional social media consumption and engagement is so crucial, because it’s not just being aware of the algorithms, it’s also being aware of, what could my child accidentally run across knowing that it’s looking for them, they’re very likely the first time they come across something inappropriate, whether it be white supremacy, or pornography or anything like that, it’s probably on accident, and it’s going to be exposed to them. So they need to know what to do when they have those experiences, and know how to navigate that in a healthy way, versus turning dark or shameful or secret. But then that creates a culture of secrecy and privacy. And I’m just not going to tell anyone because it’s so easy to keep it quiet in my room. It’s just on this one smartphone that no one ever has to see no one ever has to be aware of. And it creates this darkness in our soul. That’s I think, really problematic to some of the others issues that we’re seeing within Gen Z, the anxiety, depression, mental health issues, I think tech and our social media consumption, and our just tech and consumption in general, is a huge piece to that issue.


Mark Turman  47:43

And that’s, that’s where, you know, in our conversation, this idea of the public square, where it is both similar and dissimilar, right? That technology is similar to what we have historically known as the public square where things are talked about and discussed. But you know, I, I know, in my own growing up experience, those darker places of every community, at least in a physical sense, were more contained. Right, right. They it was more of an outward physical kind of containment, right? Well, these kinds of people or places usually got regulated or sequestered to at least a certain part of the of the community, for the most part, not totally, but but for the most part. And you know, it’s like, hey, you know, I can remember being worn by my parents, when I got a driver’s license, don’t go to that part of town. Because that’s where a lot of bad things happen. I grew up in an era where pornography was not readily accessible. If you were trying to access pornography, it was in the form of a printed document. And it was kept behind a counter, you had to go through an adult, basically, to be able to access pornography. And as you said, that’s, that’s no longer the way it is. And most, certainly most children are accidentally finding themselves down the back alley, so to speak. And lately, and when they get in the back alley, they may immediately be both shocked and terrified. And there is this kind of knee jerk. I need to hide this. Yes, instead of instead of run out the door and tell Mom and Dad what showed up on my computer. It’s Oh, I need to hide this and that maybe that’s just a simple, distinctive response of being fallen sinful human beings. But even if you wound up there by accident, there’s this tendency, oh, I need to hide this and not let anybody know, even if you didn’t go there on purpose.


Katie Frugé  49:53

Exactly. And I think this especially as parents, that’s why creating a culture of openness and shepherding Our children through their experience with social media and technology is so crucial of keeping that open line of communication. The first time anything happens, you’re not going to get in trouble, because I’m aware that it’s predatory in nature that there are certain things that are out there searching for our, for my daughter, in particular. And so she knows, like, first time you come to me with a question or something that made you feel uncomfortable, it’s there’s no no consequences whatsoever, there’s no shame, there’s nothing there. Let’s just talk about it. And that’s how we’ve tried to cultivate an open door policy with our with, with our children in particular, just at a very practical level of helping them navigate this because it is hard, like you said, because it’s just so accessible now.


Mark Turman  50:44

So in that, in that light, in the few minutes that we have left, Katie are there some kind of for you, and what you recommend to people in this area, or there’s some kind of basic ground rules and or resources that you’re pointing, you know, pastors and parents and others to, you know, one of the one that seems to bubble up most quickly, in my experience is okay, in our house, there’s no technology in bedrooms, there’s, there’s no laptops, there’s no smartphones, nobody from mom and dad on down to the baby in the cradle. Nobody takes that kind of technology into a private space, we do that in the common areas of our home. That seems to be the first one that comes out in this conversation, are there one or two more of those things that are becoming clearer for you and that you’re recommending and or resources that you’re pointing people to?


Katie Frugé  51:37

Well, first, sure, no technology in the private spaces, that’s huge. And it’s so helpful to be able to just give some healthy boundaries for a lot of reasons. That’s a healthy boundary to be able to have another one, there is a new Bible study that’s coming out if I could just give a plug. It’s just released last week, but Jason factor has come out with a new Bible study called following Jesus in a digital age, and biblical wood, biblical wisdom for digital culture. And that’s got some very practical steps of just how do we navigate the challenges of the digital age. So I would recommend that I’m in the series on that. So I just have to give a little bit of a plug since I was a part of that project. But I think also, intentionally if especially for parents, educating yourself on what platforms are your kids on and asking some good questions, being aware of the privacy regulations there, what content is being shared, making sure your kids know, I can’t tell my daughter, my daughter hears me preach about this all the time. But what happens online does not stay online. And just making sure our kids are very aware that once it’s out in that internet sphere of social media, it doesn’t come back, I don’t care if Snapchat says it’s going to delete the picture after so many seconds or minutes, that picture is there and it is there forever. And helping them especially when their brains are still so young, trying to think about, you know, 14 years old, the implications of something I might do now might impact me when I’m 30. But trying to help them recognize and see that is so crucial. So educating ourselves on the platforms our kids are using, asking good questions, being aware of what the content moderation policies are there. So I can be aware of what is going to be put in front of her certain issues like that. It’s not fun information to go data mining for but it’s important as parents, especially to help our kids navigate this, but also for our own consumption. Are you aware of what the data mining policies are for meta? Are you aware of what the social media platforms you’re using? How are they using your information? How are they fixing their algorithms, doing some just basic research with that makes you a conscious consumption consumer of social media as well. So doing it for yourself, helps you also be able to do it for your kids.


Mark Turman  53:50

Yeah, great word. And really helpful. And we’ll put that reference in our show notes so people can go and find that Bible study. Because it’s, it’s a part of life. It’s a great part of life. In many ways, technology has brought so many blessings to us in a lot of categories, just helping us to know each other better. As you mentioned earlier, in medical experiences, certainly technology has made great strides. It’s a part of life, and it’s going to continue to be a part of life. And so it’s something we need to learn how to understand and manage and work with just like we do other parts of our lives as well. So Katie, thank you for what you do. Thank you for spending some time with us today. And we look forward to future conversations and partnerships with you and and with the Texas Baptist Convention as well. We just again, grateful to be a part of the same team.


Katie Frugé  54:40

Thank you all for having me. All right.


Mark Turman  54:42

Have a great day.


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