Friday, November 27, 2020

The ultimate inhumanity. . .

I was getting my hair cut when my barber was talking to me about a report he saw that attempted to explain how algorithms in social media work (which I still do not get).  But the conversation got me thinking.  Have we been reduced to an algorithm?  Is that who we are?  Who I am?

Apparently the first time you hit enter and head out into the unknown called the internet you begin to lose your privacy.  At that time you begin your journey on becoming a digital reality and your humanity begins to slip away.  Truth becomes preference and who you are and the truth you believe is adjusted by the algorithm that pays attention to your every keystroke.  Even when it might seem that two people are Googling the same products, sites, and interests, the algorithms have become so sophisticated that everything is tailored to that one person and no two people are alike.

Goofy me, I thought it was my own lack of tech savvy that I could not locate a meme I saw moments ago or why others looked at me with a blank stare because they never saw that meme or factoid or whatever.  In reality that is how the whole social network enterprise works.  It may have been rudimentary in the beginning but it is refined and sophisticated today.  Preference, interest, and individual bias have been honed so that what you see only you see and even though others might seem to mirror your own profile, everyone is sifted so that the outcomes are different.

It is no wonder then that worship would be person specific, that Christian music would become your own personal playlist, that religious truth would be no wider or deeper than the individual espousing that truth, and that morality would mirror the same shallow depth and moment of time limited to belief.  It does begin to frame the context that makes online worship so appealing for so many and why many who were once in person will be virtual participants in the future (even long after COVID is a faded memory).  

I can understand why folks over 55 might find this concerning or even threatening or perhaps worse.  What I cannot understand is why those under 55 seem to have made their peace with it all.  Could it be that one of the residual effects of the pandemic will be to further the divide between those for whom an encounter with God is real against those whose encounter with God is virtual (at best),  

You are not fearfully or wonderfully made but merely the sum of your preferences.  Your life is not some amazing and divine construct but merely the whims of the moment borne of temporary desire.  Redemption is not about sin and death and God and forgiveness but about your particular and unique identity, self-defined and digitally refined until it is only you.  Eden has been reborn and we needed no serpent to lead us into temptation -- unless you consider that social media is just that -- our digital serpent whose only interest is to steal us from God and therefore from our genuine humanity.


John Joseph Flanagan said...

I agree with your comments. It is true that a preoccupation and addiction to social media can be a formidable distraction and can turn one away from the things of God. It absorbs time, wasting it, and may draw one away from God, and as such it becomes a clever tool of the devil. I would suggest we all make a New Year's resolution to wind it down. We need to discard those things which crowd into our witness. I think even Pastoral Meanderings can do with fewer articles than at present.

Timothy Carter said...

Don't listen to him Pastor Peters.
I am trapped in a very beautiful, very lonely country farm house by health issues and look forward to your meanderings every day. You really help with your Confessional writings. You fill a very important niche.
Though I agree that the internet is filled with a remarkable amount of non-sense, you have used it as a useful tool for witnessing the faith.
Recognize the good, John Flanagan. Use pastoralmeandering's excellent "search" function for "Doctrine" or "Liturgy" or "Advent" or "Hope". It is time well you may witness rightly.
Timothy Carter,
simple country Deacon.