In 2021, the average digital media consumption reached 8 hours per day. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube... the list of where we spend time is never ending.
The screens we devote our time to are exploiting our weaknesses and leading us on a path to attachment and even addiction, both to pornography and the devices themselves.
In this episode, we visit with Doug Smith, author of [Un]Intentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires and How You Can Break Free, about how we are being effectively deceived by digital media and how we can resist this growing problem.
Key topics covered in this episode:
Doug Smith is a passionate voice in the epic battle against screen addictions, especially through his award-winning book (and audiobook), “[Un]Intentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Your Desires, and How You Can Break Free.” He brings practical experience to this arena as a dad of four daughters and a man who has struggled, fallen, fought, and, by the grace of God, overcome the power of screens.
As a software developer, Doug has served Fortune 500 companies, startups, universities, government agencies, and media personalities. He’s currently an Android Engineer with Covenant Eyes. He loves to help individuals and families break free from screen addiction so they can live out their God-given purpose.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: yeah we sure are, and if this is your first time listening in you might be wondering what it's all about well in this podcast we like to talk about some tough topics like pornography.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: But we have a cross section of professionals each week who share must have programs tools and today's episode will share a great book with you actually a couple great books and just whatever you need to be able to battle against pornography.
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Karen Potter: We also have a very special guest with us today and we're so excited to introduce him in just a moment, but before we do that we just want to let all of our listeners know we'd love to hear from you and we love to.
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Karen Potter: hear what you think about this show, so please send us your thoughts your feedback, you can email us at podcast at covenant eyes calm again that's podcast at covenant eyes calm and then don't forget to leave us a review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: Yes, please do that because we want to continue to get better we want to continue to.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: provide what you need to to help battle against pornography as you were mentioning and one last thing Karen and Doug.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: For our listeners today we're offering a free 30 day trial of covenant eyes, software and I just want to highly encourage you to give it a try.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: You have nothing to lose with those first 30 days being free so all you have to do is visit our website covenant eyes calm.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: And then enter promo code free podcast that's just all one word free podcast at checkout it's really an opportunity for you to begin the journey to freedom and accountability today, so please just give it a try, if you haven't already.
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Karen Potter: Thanks brandon and today, our topic is a really exciting topic, the title of today's show is deceptively effective what our screen saturated world is doing to you.
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Karen Potter: This sounds like a really powerful conversation and who better to talk about this topic than covenant eyes very own Doug Smith, a passionate voice in the epic battle against screen addictions.
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Karen Potter: Especially through his award winning book and audio book.
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Karen Potter: On intentional how screen sheet secretly shape your desires and how you can break free Doug brings practical experience to this area as a dad have four daughters and a man who struggled fallen lot and by the grace of God overcome the power of screens.
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Doug: What a blessing here in a brand and it's such an honor to be here Thank you so much for this time.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: yeah we're so glad to have you, you know, one of the other things that you sent over in your bio I just would love to get your feedback on is.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: you've been a software developer, for even fortune 500 companies startups universities government agencies.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: How did you get into this, how did you get into software development and i'm curious to know how that's going to tie into talking about how we need to be careful of screens and technology.
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Doug: that's a great question brandon you know I I mean i've kind of with a nerdy kid.
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Doug: You know some of the some of the if you talk to a lot of developers we kind of you know, played with electronics did different things over our lifetime kind of naturally drawn to that sort of thing like star trek you know that sort of thing getting drawn into it, but I really.
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Doug: dove into it at the beginning, really, the you know i'm old enough now be able to say it kind of the beginning of the Internet era and got into.
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Doug: kind of a different path and a lot of developers I took more of a computer based trainings path through it got That was my first professional gig.
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Doug: And then got into Internet and web web programming and eventually got into some back end database development I could go a long ways on that, but.
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Doug: Ultimately yeah I did spend the time that I spent with especially fortune 500 companies was a lot of times on marketing technology.
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Doug: And so I have seen a lot of the behind the scenes, at least early on as to how things were happening, even before the smartphone was introduced in 2007.
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Doug: And so, as I saw as I saw these technologies get smaller and faster and better and then the algorithms get better and then the intentionality behind to get better.
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Doug: And I just felt, really, really inspired to speak into it, not only as a developer, but also as as Karen mentioned a dad a Christian and and and and a Bible student as well.
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Karen Potter: So Doug I you brought up a lot of great points and I don't know if we mentioned this, I kind of hinted to it, but you actually.
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Karen Potter: In for our viewers out there and our listeners you actually are an android engineer here with covenant eyes so.
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Karen Potter: The the most interesting thing about this conversation, is that you know you are here you're the power behind the technology that we're building to help people find freedom from pornography.
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Karen Potter: And you're writing books about the addictive nature of pornography and how it's you know, giving us these unintentional effects in our lives, so this is going to be a really dynamic conversation i'm super excited.
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Karen Potter: On there are so many things that we could get started on, but first I just want to kind of start with a little bit of your story and what led you to write this book unintentional.
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Doug: yeah Thank you Karen I just real quickly I i've been a fan of covenant eyes for 1516 years and my own journey and struggles and so am I mentoring other guys and.
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Doug: So when I wrote my book, which are written the first edition came out in 2018 and the second edition 2021 but colonizers mentioned three times and I actually met Sam black at a conference, where we were both speaking.
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Doug: And this was about this was 2019 and that we met and he told me about covenant eyes and what was going on here and.
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Doug: I ended up becoming an android developer at that point on, so i'm super grateful like like I mentioned earlier, this is a many decades journey with me sharing code and eyes on behind the scenes, but now in on the front lines so but yeah.
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Doug: In that.
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Doug: In terms of the book side I, as I mentioned i've seen us from behind the scenes, and also as a as a user as a dad i've seen.
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Doug: The changes that have happened and it's hard to remember again smartphone came out in 2007 there were issues, of course, before that, but they really got amped up and we could carry around the Internet in our pocket.
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Doug: And so the things that you started, we started seeing not only and I was a late adopter, and so I was because I was also questioning things but still.
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Doug: When I even got my first one was free in 2010 and I felt that Pole, I felt that what's going on here.
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Doug: And then I saw a family and friends, and of course we all been to a restaurant, where you look at the family sitting there and they're all on their devices like it's like they've been taken over by.
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Doug: You know, by a B grade SCI fi movie I say and it's like what How did this happen, and so I did start going down the rabbit hole of research around 2014.
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Doug: Because I had a feeling about it and I had participated in a kind of at a small degree, but I didn't really realize what was going on on the massive scale and that's when I got into.
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Doug: The deep research and found myself really feeling called in 2016 to.
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Doug: Go on, what ended up becoming a two and a half year journey to write this book I didn't see another book out there, that really.
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Doug: went down the road that I did in terms of showing what was going on and then spending the time with the solutions that it helped me not only overcome.
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Doug: Like general screen addiction, but also pornography, I also have a pornography story of overcoming pornography story as well, like many of us, and so it just i'm super grateful for, to be able to package all that into this this book that I hope is going to be super helpful to people.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: You know i've been reading through this book with my wife Doug it's very good and I highly recommend our listeners to look into that will tell you how you can do that a little bit later here.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: But one of the things that really shocked me was that.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: There are people who look into and deeply study things like the psychological impacts of screens and they work hard to.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: make things you know beep and and shimmer and you know notify us in all kinds of different ways for the purpose of keeping us coming back to those and so.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: I think the title of today's podcast really says it all that we're being effectively deceived by these screens, can you tell us a little bit more about that, and you know what's happening because maybe share some of the the statistics, because they're really striking done.
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Doug: You know what it is like anything when you go down the rabbit hole.
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Doug: You you understand that there is way more going on, we all have the feeling of it.
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Doug: Right, but just cut but it kind of just happened it's like weeds that grew up in a field that was not well attended.
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Doug: But yeah the one of the startling statistics is that the average digital media consumption and we're talking about social media video games streaming video platforms is eight hours a day.
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Doug: As the average and that's by a company called a marketer and there's a lot of other corroborating studies that show that.
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Doug: And how that has exploded over time, and you can stratify that across demographics and all the rest, but just taking that eight hour a number that's like way more than a full time job and so.
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Doug: We have to understand well how did that happen and and sometimes that happens, through multitasking like people stream netflix and then go through instagram at the same time.
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Doug: But still you're that's consuming digital media, how did that happen it didn't happen.
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Doug: Because, all of us were like man when I grow up you know what I really want to be when I grow up, I want to send my most personal data to the biggest corporations in the world, so that they can keep me more and more hooked on their platforms.
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Doug: You know, we didn't want to do that, so how did that happen it happened because we're unintentional, but they are super there's some of the most intentional and successfully intentional companies, as you mentioned, they hire top behavioral psychologists neuroscientists.
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Doug: They learn to exploit weaknesses, they do thousands upon thousands of experiments everything you can impossibly imagine every when you're streaming instagram when you're flicking instagram or pinterest or whatever.
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Doug: If you linger they know if you watched and click something they know if you flipped by it faster they know why do they know that because their one goal is keep you engaged.
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Doug: keep you on the platform and it works, really, really well and so anyway yeah so that's what happens and what we've learned over the studies is that they the techniques that they use work in exactly the same way as drug addictions do the brain scans show it.
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Doug: In addictions to video games to social media to pornography and to.
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Doug: You like heroin and drugs like that they can tell through brain scans it's the same patterns, because the same pleasure cycles and the same addiction forming characteristics are present in all of those things.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: And just really quick, I wanted to add, you know, in the book, you had a quote from the netflix CEO who said there now because we have you utilize all of our waking hours they are now working to compete against sleep.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: So they're doing what we can to keep you up late at night.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: To keep streaming I thought that was very intrigued and scary.
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Doug: You know and it's true like they invented autoplay.
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Doug: right they they've added a new feature recently.
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Doug: That I read about I don't subscribe, because i'm part of the resistance, but but they add a new feature, this is called play something like not only.
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Doug: Do we not do they not want us to stop but they don't want us to even choose like I can't even decide what to watch, I just want to burn the next five hours of my night.
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Doug: click and and and the real insidious part is like now, I want to relax what's the first thought that comes to mind netflix why because they put that thought into our minds, and then they get us when we're at our most.
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Doug: vulnerable and I talked to I mentor guys, you know, I have a lot of guys i'm an ally for.
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Doug: What typically where does that path, typically go down on somebody struggling with pornography, it goes to a more salacious video because to more you know takes you down a more sexualized road and so that's on purpose and that's where I want people to understand, this is not an accident.
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Karen Potter: Doug you bring up some really good points, here too, and I think for our listeners on specifically people that are trying to support the church leaders and men's ministry leaders that might be listening.
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Karen Potter: they're supporting men who are struggling with pornography addiction, the same principles that big tech is using to hook us into all their social media platforms are the exact same principles that.
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Karen Potter: places like porn hub, and all the others are using to hook us into pornography on you know, one of my biggest frustrations and concerns is that you know children's brains are still.
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Doug: being developed.
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Karen Potter: And so we're, you know as adults, we struggle with being pulled into this space of you know, social media and.
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Karen Potter: Pornography addictions, and all the rest, but our kids brains aren't even fully developed yet their preferred frontal cortex is still developing into their mid 20s.
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Karen Potter: And yet we're pushing them into the hands of technology can you talk a little bit about the danger for parents, you know just handing these devices to get to their children, and what that can really do.
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Doug: And that's.
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Doug: A huge.
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Doug: huge area so with everything you said is just yes ditto the people don't realize.
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Doug: Well, let me just first say the validate everything you said that the brain science shows that because kids brains are developing at.
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Doug: We think about what before technology what were what were we doing in our What would we want kids to be doing what do we want.
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Doug: We want them to be learning languages, why because, as a kid we know it's a lot easier to learn a language, we want to take piano lessons it's a lot easier to learn.
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Doug: A musical instrument why because your brain is wired as a kid to have possibilities.
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Doug: But going into our teens our brain start optimizing for what we have ever been doing the rest of our life right, so we say call it synaptic pruning.
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Doug: And that could actually trim back and optimized so that we can do more quickly the things that we've been doing so people get really good at sports.
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Doug: get even better they probably not going to pick up the violin the violinist gets better but they're probably not going to pick up you know basket whatever you know those kind of things.
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Doug: that's all the natural God given gifts that we've been given, but what we're getting now by giving our kids these devices that early and earlier ages their brains are being optimized for pleasure for entertainment for the quick fix for addiction and it's heartbreaking.
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Doug: Because we see the effects we see, I mean you can trend, the trend lines on introduction of the smartphone.
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Doug: 50% pat like I think the past 50% penetration around 2015 and then, what do we see when kids especially anxiety depression suicidality.
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Doug: Self harm, we see we see degradation of social skills, we see a decrease in education, just all these negative effects health effects even obesity, I mean all these things are tied to what video games in social media and streaming video platforms.
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Doug: And, but yet we continue to do it and then why do we do that because, again, the industry is just dumping these devices in the schools in our homes, making it normal.
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Doug: Just this is what everybody does why because everything new is great right well not not so much and it's not working out very good for our kids I might.
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Doug: My thing i've been saying for a while, is, I think the future kids like today's kids when they're adults they're going to be going they're going to look at the same as the same as if you know they we've been smoking and.
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Doug: We don't like, why did you give us cigarettes, when we were 10 years old, like this is not this isn't working out for us so so yeah it's a very, very.
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Doug: troubling but the good news is with knowledge, we can we can turn that around We just have to be willing to be more intentional with our lives than the industry is absolutely.
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Karen Potter: I do you have I mean speaking of knowledge, you know the listeners to the show today, probably are looking for some very practical tips.
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Karen Potter: That they can you know use to not only break free from pornography, but perhaps their screen addictions.
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Karen Potter: And then, as adults, obviously we modeled that for our children, so you know we we help ourselves, we get ourselves, you know, using good on behaviors on our technology, and then we can model that to our children, but what are some practical tips that you have to offer.
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Doug: yeah that's great I most of my book is is about that it's not like only the first four chapters are about what's going wrong, the rest of the 12 chapters are about how to how to break free how to find freedom and so there's a lot there, but just in terms of practical tips the.
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Doug: i'll give a couple of just big picture, ones that I really recommend we spend a lot of time in this space talking about what we shouldn't do.
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Doug: What because it's hard it's harming it's don't just stop the hurts you okay well, what do I do that's you have to have that positive vision, and so I encourage people to.
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Doug: Cast that positive vision for what their life could be like if they were walking in freedom, what are you fighting for.
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Doug: Not what are you fighting necessarily against yeah we're fighting this massive battle against this industry these industries, but what are you fighting for, as a Christian i'm called by God for a greater vision and called i'm here for a purpose and.
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Doug: And so I really encourage people cast that vision, take the time to walk through a vision casting exercise what will motivate you not only to to replace what I what I often say is a.
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Doug: You, the only way, you will place a know is, if you have a better yes and so you've got to have that better yes to look forward to.
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Doug: But I think you know back to your discussion about the kids you know, without a vision, I think about there's a young man out there who.
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Doug: who's got the skills to cure cancer right but he's addicted to fortnight instead.
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Doug: Because nobody said hey you're really smart you shouldn't be on fortnight because look at the vision, you can cure cancer with those skills, you have or that young woman who's got like CS Lewis.
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Doug: Quality story writing skills, but she's perfecting her instagram persona instead why you know, and someone needs to catch that help her catch that vision.
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Doug: And so that's that's all vision casting you know what you have this amazing gift look what God gave you and that's for any every everybody has those gifts we're all here for a God given purpose so so vision casting so, then the second thing I would say just real quickly is.
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Doug: Is everything that I have in my book is based on because it's a Christian book i'm a Christian, and the only help, I have to offer is Jesus.
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Doug: Well, he offered to help right we're just telling him we're just telling people to this.
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Doug: So, so I just I start by really digging into this concept of surrender to Christ, and what does that mean, and so as terms of a kind of an overall practical idea explore the concept of what it really means to be 100% surrender he's the King of kings we are his allegiance servants.
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Doug: So what that pastas into this posture the Earth is the lord's and all that contains the world and those who dwell in it.
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Doug: So it's all his and including our devices in our time and everything all of our relationships and so from that posture of surrender we don't then talk about things like balance, like, I should just balance.
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Doug: I should just i'm more balanced than him so i'm good but from a person of surrender it's like.
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Doug: that's a whole different conversation and we invite God to tell us what what's appropriate for us in order to walk in the freedom and become the people we're called to be.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: I think that's really interesting you know when you mentioned the cure for cancer guy I think about.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: This this idea of creative boredom you know if we don't if we're so into screens and we're busy constantly.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: We don't have that time and even more so, like so going deeper than that, if we are so busy, and into our screens and distracted how are we going to hear the voice of the Lord in our lives and to be able to live that out, and so what I would like to ask here is.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: For the church leaders who are listening, what would you say to them as far as the call to be countercultural because really it's going to take some drastic steps and life changes so that we can again hear the voice of the Lord, we can see all around us and culture that.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: The voice of the Lord is not being less than two, so what would you say that.
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Doug: Oh, so good brandon Thank you but.
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Doug: We are called to be countercultural but it's so easy it's always been easy to decide to go along.
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Doug: We have an extra tension, these days, of course, with a pandemic right a lot of churches have been pushed online.
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Doug: A lot of us have been even as church leaders have been like crafting our social platforms and doing all these things right so it's hard to be part of the resistance, but we just got to catch a vision of why we need to.
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Doug: One of the things I mentioned in my book is this is this reminder of deuteronomy six which talks about which were the shema is in there, hear.
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Doug: hear O Israel, the Lord your God at the Lord is one you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength right, but then it says.
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Doug: These words are to be on your heart teach them diligently to your kids.
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Doug: and speak of them when you sit in your House, when you walk, by the way, when you lie down when you rise up find them on your hands put them on your forehead write it on your gates on your on the wall, you know so i'm not i've gone off the memory there but it's.
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Doug: what's this idea of immersion in god's truth in who he is well, what we need to understand is that the industry does are there deuteronomy 16 us.
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Doug: Because what do most people do when they sit in their house when they lay down when they rise up when they're driving when they're going to school when they're when they're.
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Doug: In their house what's on our walls what's you know what it's troubling when when you start saying that out loud it's like wait a minute How did this happen, well, it happened because they're intentional so we've got to become.
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Doug: We got to get back to just like the Israelites slaves were set free.
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Doug: By God pulled out of Egypt read see all that and now what deuteronomy six.
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Doug: Do the thing so we've got to put these things into practice and as church leaders, we can encourage that we can we have that opportunity to be able to help.
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Doug: people understand that today's technology today screen technology isn't like other technology isn't like well technology has been around so.
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Doug: it's just like you know the printing press is a big change well the printing press wasn't intentionally designed to exploit your behavioral psychology.
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Doug: It was just gave you some words to put on a page it changed things sure, but come on so don't so like don't build your tik tok following.
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Doug: Work on building an analog church and there's actually a book called analog church that you might you might look at work on work on in person relationships don't make addictive technology part of your ministry don't make the youth group.
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Doug: have to subscribe to instagram to know what's going on, you know find other ways.
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Doug: To help people become overcome so that they're not driven to addictive technology, because the church promotes it instead.
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Doug: help people find the freedom that they so desperately need in order like you said brandon to be able to hear god's voice and then become the people that they are made by God to live out their lives it to be.
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Karen Potter: So awesome Doug and it's funny you were talking a little bit about the analog church and I actually read an article this morning about gen Z.
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Karen Potter: And how gen Z actually desires relational you know closeness they actually want mentors they want people to look up to and the Church is failing them in some ways.
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Karen Potter: And so what an opportunity for pastors and leaders and volunteers in the church that are looking to reach that next generation and that generation is heavily.
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Karen Potter: involved in technology, I mean they grew up you know it's kind of cradle to grave for them technology is everywhere.
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Karen Potter: So gosh that was just really interesting that you brought that up.
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Karen Potter: On so we're kind of coming to the end here, but I want to make sure that everyone listening to the podcast today knows how to get their hands on this book.
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Karen Potter: unintentional because I think we need to educate and equip ourselves and then take that back to our home churches and find ways to as groups of people as a Community.
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Karen Potter: roll out some of these best practices that you're talking about so where can they get the book and how do they get their hands on it and share it with others.
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Doug: Thank you so much Karen I appreciate.
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Doug: That so pretty much every way to get the best way to contact me is that Doug Smith.
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Doug: Calm i'm that Doug Smith, because Doug Smith, a common name, so that that's what's going to be positive or negative, you know oh you're that Doug Smith so anyway that Doug Smith COM.
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Doug: You can contact me there the the links to the book and the audio book are there there's a sample of it there.
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Doug: I also do some speaking at that churches and conferences and things, and so I can I can offer discounts, I can do things to help churches, I love the church and i'm all in so anyway that's that's why I did this, so I love to help just reach out, let me know how I can help.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: Doug what a pleasure it has been just visiting with you this morning sharing these truths with others, we really appreciate your time.
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Doug: i'm super honored to be here Thank you so much for the conversation I loved it.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: And a reminder that if you also enjoyed this conversation, please spread the word, you know this is how.
00:25:57.540 --> 00:26:05.280
Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: These things happen, you know we talked about being called or cultural it starts with you so spread the word about this podcast leave us review be.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: sure to subscribe, so that you can tune in each week for more conversations like this, as we bring you topics with experts who are on the front lines like Doug.
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Brandon.Clark@covenanteyes.com: Or you can also drop us a note with your thoughts and feedback by emailing podcast at covenant eyes COM that's podcast at covenant eyes.com.
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Karen Potter: And lastly, if you have not taken advantage of our 30 day free trial of covenant eyes, please be sure to check that out, you can use the promo code on our website free podcast again that's free podcast on our website at covenant eyes calm.
00:26:43.110 --> 00:26:54.270
Karen Potter: And you can try the Covenant eyes software that Doug and other amazing developers here at covenant eyes so carefully craft and developed to help you find freedom from pornography so.
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Karen Potter: With that I do want to thank you all for joining us for another amazing episode of the Covenant eyes podcast and until next time we'll see you later.