Incarnate Weirdness (Or How NOT to Give up Social Media) – Red Letter Christians

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So I (largely) stopped making use of Facebook for Lent. Immediately after I created this choice, it took almost everything inside of me to not right away post on Facebook about how I wasn’t making use of Facebook through the Lenten season for incredibly spiritual motives that are almost certainly also weighty for your targeted-ad-addled-brain to comprehend as you scroll down to update your newsfeed forever and ever amen. And, as a (minor) corrective to my personal targeted-ad-addled-brain, I have paired my diminished Net self-hood with readings from the perform of VR innovator and futurist Jaron Lanier. Right here he is writing presciently in 2008 about social media and (a lack of) human flourishing:

“I know rather a couple of folks, largely young adults but not all, who are proud to say that they have accumulated thousands of close friends on Facebook. Definitely, this statement can only be accurate if the notion of friendship is decreased. A true friendship ought to introduce every single particular person to unexpected weirdness in the other. Every acquaintance is an alien, a properly of unexplored distinction in the practical experience of life that can not be imagined or accessed in any way but by means of genuine interaction. The notion of friendship in database-filtered social networks is definitely decreased from that.”

As I was considering about no matter if or not he was correct, I saw 4 homes in 1 Zillow search of my city that had the similar shiplapped accent wall. And, as I was reflecting on no matter if or not the ubiquity of the shiplap proves Lanier’s point, my wife sent me an post from NPR about how researchers at Brandeis University have uncovered what they’re calling “the hipster effect” (hang in there, it is worth it):

“It’s a operating joke that male hipsters all appear alike with their flannel shirts, thick beards and other seemingly off-brand attributes. But a comical incident in the MIT Technologies Review might just prove that they all genuinely do appear alike. The publication recently published an post on a study out of Brandeis University about the “hipster impact,” which studied how nonconformists generally act unconventionally in the similar way — to finish up getting specifically the similar.”

The ideal portion is what followed MIT Technologies Critique’s publication of stated findings, and I’ll let them take it from right here:

Appropriate just after the post was published, MIT Technologies Review promptly received an e-mail from somebody who claimed he was the man in the photo and hadn’t offered his consent. He accused the publication of slandering him and threatened legal action, writing:

‘You made use of a heavily edited Getty image of me for your current bit of click-bait about why hipsters all appear the similar. It is a poorly written and insulting post and somewhat ironically about 5 years also late to be as desperately relevant as it is attempting to be. By making use of a tired cultural trope to attempt to spruce up an otherwise disturbing study. Your lack of standard journalistic ethics and each the manner in which you reported this uncredited nonsense and the slanderous unnecessary use of my image without the need of permission demands a response and I am of course pursuing legal action.’”

The crescendo right here is (rather predictably) that this incredibly hip man was terribly incorrect about his personal hella-hip likeness. He, as if on cue for the researchers, mistook a stock photo of yet another hipster (who was a model) for himself, and was flabbergasted to uncover out that but yet another nonconformist acted “unconventionally in the similar way.”

Life is largely a closed loop, and I’m locating from individual practical experience that you have to put on slim-match pants into your virtually-mid-thirties to practical experience the stifling closed-ness of it all.

According to people like Lanier, 1 point the Net has severely truncated is humanity’s capacity to be weird, in singular, non-marketable, and digitally unrecognizable methods, and that this weirdness is the incredibly fabric, or bedrock of what tends to make humans undeniably much more vital than the technologies we have worked tirelessly to generate.

For instance: I have 1,453 Facebook close friends (not to brag), and I’m worried no much more than a handful understand that I am terribly, even uncomfortably strange, particularly when it comes to the metrics employed by the Facebook algorithm to ascertain my political preferences, religious beliefs, kitchen countertop design and style preferences, and no matter if or not I’ll be enticed to make a swift getaway to a Caribbean Sandals resort (not to brag) mainly because my telephone overheard a pal of mine regaling me with stories about getting face-up on the small business finish of a industrial Daiquiri machine the other day at perform. And this time I’m not bragging, mainly because you are also you are terribly weird. Nevertheless, if I’m not genuinely your pal I have no clue about this weirdness, or how you dance at weddings, or why you persist in believing the moon landing was faked — as you are only much more white noise of beach holiday footage, parenting complaints, misattributed motivational sayings, and multi-level-marketing and advertising pitches on my news feed of digitally digestible sameness.

In a phrase various other individuals have been employing lengthy just before I got a hold of it: Social media is the standardized testing of human relationships, and we can not support but reside our lives according to its scores.

Items like Facebook and Instagram have educated us to relate to 1 yet another according to the strictures of digital life. It relegates irrelevant and anomalous information to the nether-regions of the net and heightens false binaries and restricted drop-down possibilities as a way of answering existential concerns about how 1 dates, sleeps, believes, votes, thinks, feels, and furnishes a bonus space. A pal of mine who enjoyed a equivalent social media detox final year kept remarking, passive aggressively I’m certain, that after he “unplugged” it was awesome to come alive to a globe “where I do not currently know if I right away hate somebody mainly because of my newsfeed.”

Which is also why, in a globe exactly where life is getting stuffed inside “the cloud,” Christianity is experiencing the similar draining of weirdness that is so inherent to its results. If you are maintaining score, Christianity is (largely) the belief that God became a human particular person, and not just any human particular person, but an unmarried, homeless, poor 1 whose behavior famously prompted his mother and brothers and sisters to attempt and come “collect” him at the finish of a sermon. This God in the flesh did and stated and embodied so several strange points that he was killed by the binaries of his day, and even then, he transcended them all the similar, leaving only an empty tomb in his wake.

As 1 my preferred Australian theologians, Mike Frost, is popular for saying:

“Jesus was absolutely off center, a square peg in a round hole. And these who had been most attracted to Him had been the ones who had absolutely nothing to drop — females, young children, young fishermen, the poor, the disabled. With this band of misfits and outcasts, he changed the whole globe.”

I’m beginning to wonder if the Incarnation may not be the most vital (and strangest) Christian doctrine for our technological age. The notion of God turning tired words and dead prayers into flesh and blood to be argued with, consume a meal beside, and stick to into the wilderness appears extremely foreign to a neighborhood of folks who appear at flesh that have grow to be algorithms (which are not even true words) on private screens in restaurants, schools, vehicles, and beds correct beside other living, breathing flesh and blood.

As we scroll toward apocalypse collectively, here’s a prayer I’ve been tinkering with anytime I absentmindedly attain for my telephone as a way of participating in the technological diminishing of my cellular weirdness in order for it (and me) to be much more proficiently found on a Google search:

 (Closes eyes)

My life is not a industrial solution.

My kid is not a industrial solution.  

My political views are not industrial merchandise.

My religion is not a industrial solution.

My relationships with other humans are not industrial merchandise.

(Throws telephone into targeted traffic)

(Dangerously retrieves telephone amidst stated targeted traffic. Anxiously turns it back on. Feels a guilty sense of relief that it performs once again. Checks Facebook to see how this post is performing. Quickly experiences hot shame.)

Jeez, amen.

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