Homo Connectivus @akma #refract

How has the Internet affected us as human beings?

The Internet used to be a side order, but has now become a walled garden. Throughout the churches have stood on the sides, poking fun at the ‘geeks’, seeing it as exotic…. So it is mostly the sidelined people who have taken it up – which was OK with Jesus….

Conduct our entire lives in front of someone who knows all –
And it’s not Google thought first 2 letters are the same! Not about being in with the latest fad, but because no area of our life is away from God. Not about the anecdotes, but theologise. Keep knee-jerk reactivity out… It’s not about ereader is better than paper/pen etc. Certain films must be seen in 3D etc… ‘Real’ farms are better than ‘Farmville’ etc. We can’t submit to replacement panic…. Looking to replace 2000 years of church experience in a digital form… Or look to replicate the physical!

We need to learn to be human with a new range of capacities & circumstances. Church needs leaders with informed wisdom indigenous to digital space. Many church leaders, etc have no experience in digital spaces so they shouldn’t be making the decisions…. We have a few blogging Bishops but….

We need to appreciate that a few missteps & mistakes can’t stop us moving forward to engaging with the Internet. Also, the Internet doesn’t give us a license to get over-excited with new technology and forget all other dogmas that we have discerned beforehand.

Theological anthropology – what are we really like as homo connectivus before God. So many films that technological constructs can offer humanity, whereas humans can appear as machines?! What defines which as which? In future is expectation that computers will approximate humans…. What does this mean theologically? Are we the people that we say we are? What defines us humanly and as our digital identify (password, etc)? When we die we won’t be defined by our passwords etc. Who we are is hard to quantify in metrics.

Avatars online do not exist independently. They don’t activate till we join them blind via a password. We are able to run 4 minute mile, speak Mandarin, commune with God etc affects who I am, but if digital avatar flies, levitates etc, is part of our online identity.

What about the question of online communion? Online ethics? E.g. If a man looks lustfully at a woman, it’s adultery in the hard – what about books, films, avatars etc that raise erotic or violent feelings. Online actions are part of a continuum that extends into a physical space. Church needs theological anthropologists who have been there & can demonstrate what is needed. As digitally mediated relationships grow, we need pastoral care… We live on the edge of the one of the biggest cultural transitions ever – we have a commission to engage with the rest of the world…. And the ends of the world have expanded.

QUESTIONS

What about connectivus? The importance of community? Churches focus so much on the need for ‘local community’ and the need for ‘face to face’ that the bigger questions of online interaction are ignored.

Churches need to identify social online spaces not as a rival to offline spaces. Churches need to use constructively to build & extend the sense of congregation. The importance of the social function… At present Facebook is irreplaceable. Does the church sign up to provide an open source option which doesn’t tie in with Facebook’s consumerism.

Are computers still just tools? Are they different perspectives? If thinking of the digital solely as tools … If have a hammer see everything as a nail? Or become techno-utopian? How does is tie in with the physical and ideological determinants. A lot of the issues arising from theologising about the Internet comes from not understanding the culture & as we have done in the past as missionaries – go in & try to make the space fit us. We have to learn the space and see how we can fit within it…. Be unafraid to make mistakes – otherwise the longer we stall, the more difficult we make it for our successors.

Church leadership? Do we protect it or give it a kick in this direction? Encourage church leadership to move towards active engagement online. Get used to the fact that a casual remark or an unthought out response to question which we may not have chosen to say. We need to learn to not blame the technology for recording this, but be prepared to admit that you made a mistake. Alter our perceptions of leadership, but if evangelical – humble, patient, etc won’t have too much to change. Those who have ‘an image to maintain’ or want disconnected lines will find it problematic…. And we need to change not blame the technology.

Theological anthropologists & been there?! Unpack? Who have thought in theological terms what it is to be human but also to think about those aspects of our lives which are changed, eradicated etc in response to the digital space. Had a character who was a Priest in World of Warcraft – once became known that he really was a Priest – behaviour changed towards him.. Asked for pastoral help & ‘behaved better’. Friendships across the world – learn to respond in a different way in communities. How someone expresses & self-represents online… Important.

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The #BigBible Project. Educating in the digital spaces, creating 'bigger Bible conversations' between #digidisciple(s). Look out for #bigread14.