Braving the New World (Wide Web): An Essay!

 

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People often wonder exactly what it is that a PhD student does.

We read. And we think. And sometimes we write.

Sadly, much of what we write is unreadable, filled with specialist language and academic jargon. It’s mostly for our own benefit, a recorded reflection of internal processing.

Every once in awhile, however, we write things of general interest. I may have lost all perspective, but I think/hope that this piece falls into the latter category.

In any case, here is a piece that I wrote for the Fall edition of God and Nature magazine. It’s an essay that explores all the different ways that Christian thinkers engage social and entertainment media.

Braving the New World (Wide Web): Mapping Theological Responses to Media

TL; DR? Here are the last three paragraphs:

“Media (particularly social media) makes more information available to us that ever before: it is quite literally fed to us through our myriad “feeds”. The glut of information facilitates the opportunity to feed on information and feel emotion without having to take meaningful, committed action.

C.S. Lewis wrote in the Screwtape Letters that the goal is of the tempter is to elicit feeling without action.  The more humans are led to feel without acting, the harder it will ever become to act, and then the harder it will become even to feel. Our endless options so often catalyze our emotions but paralyze our action. When this happens, we grow numb.

One of the only antidotes for this is a community of committed action, where flesh-and-blood connection can take place between hurting bodies. Indeed, increased contact with the difficult aspects of the human condition may alleviate some of the unrealistic expectations that we place on technology. Media culture threatens to obscure, trivialize, or paralyze us through by drowning us in the 24-hour news cycle. Yet thoughtful and engaged presence, especially among the least of these, can give us all a healthy glimpse of the real. There is simply no substitute for this.”

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