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   Author  Topic: Somebody writing for the mainstream media who gets it.  (Read 776 times)
Hermit
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Somebody writing for the mainstream media who gets it.
« on: 2009-08-06 21:42:24 »
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Jesus fears your Facebook profile

Social networking leads to suicide! God hates MySpace! The Archbishop hath spoken

Source: San Francisco Gate
Authors: Mark Morford (SF Gate Columnist)
Dated: 2009-08-05

Another day, another slightly confused, curmudgeonly older white male stepping out from behind the drab, heavy curtain of a massive, dying religious dogma haunted by millennia of abuse and homophobia and scandal and misogyny and generally Getting it All Wrong Nearly All the Time Forever, to let the world know he is deeply concerned about kids today and their newfangled gizmongery and how it all just might be destroying social life and inviting death.

So it is that Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales, offered up his alarmist concern, saying that he's very worried that Facebook and MySpace et al are collectively serving to undermine real community and the development of personal skills, and can therefore lead kids toward depression and self-destruction and even -- say it with a frown and a deeply furrowed brow -- suicide. Ain't it the cutest thing?

As you might guess, I don't really care much for the goodly Archbishop's take on things. No one really should, given how the church hasn't exactly been relevant or intelligent or even remotely accurate in matters of popular culture and the vagaries of youth for, well, just about ever.

Besides, you always know if something is rather new, if it upheaves the norm and messes with social mores and especially if it dares to dance with definitions of love and sex and gender, the church will most assuredly come out, rather snarlingly, against it. It's just how they roll.

Nor should we dwell too long in the most painfully obvious truism of all, the one the kindly Archbishop conveniently overlooks: If anything throughout world history has shoved anxiety-riddled kids further down the path of confusion and misery and even suicide, it's the massive waves of guilt, shame and sin that have been foisted upon them like a brick blanket by organized religion. Deny it at your peril, Archbishop Nichols.

No, what's truly fascinating here is not only the church's standard level of staggering hypocrisy, but also the towering sameness of the fear that the good Archbishop expresses so nonchalantly, the never-ending dread that every curious advancement in technology and communication, every remarkable shift in how we connect with one another of course spells doom for a given generation, is wreaking havoc, mangling hearts, causing death.

In this paranoid, conservative worldview, where everything new is generally dangerous and everything old is generally safe, the Archbishop is far from alone.

I find it to be a rather sad sentiment, really, one that makes me sigh wistfully and recall how it was a short stack of years ago that everyone was lamenting how email -- remember email? -- was going to spell the death of grammar, the end of proper usage, the utter destruction of coherent communication for the kids of today. Or rather, yesterday.

In short, it was wildly feared that email's astonishing proliferation in world culture meant we were quickly racing toward oblivion, as our ability to communicate quickly devolved into pathetic gibberish and we were backsliding toward caveman-ish grunts and drag-you-by-the-hair meat-on-a-spear interpersonal relations. And not in a good way.

Of course, email did no such thing, and in fact is now considered somewhat of a savior of wordform, of remotely thoughtful communication, of decent writing and grammar in general. Ironic? Just a little.

(BTW, the Death of Communication baton has since been passed to text messaging and Twitter and the like, as everyone laments how kids today R getin dumbr n cant spel or unnerstan wrdz anymr cuz of altheabrevtns n stfUno?)

Here's a fun question: Whatever became of the email-will-doom-us-all generation? What happened to all those ostensibly verbally inept, socially stunted, Net-deformed youth of just a decade or two ago, who are now well into their late 30s and 40s? Are they all dead? Insane? About to jump off a bridge?

Not exactly. It seems quite a few members of Generation Email took that same doomsday ball and ran like hell with it, went on to invent a whole slew of forms and technologies that are, right now, scaring a whole new batch of nervous Archbishops.

They founded Yahoo. They founded Google. They invented YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and a hundred more of our most wonderful, leering digital demons of today. Turns out these "troubled" kids didn't spell the end of modern society after all. Just the opposite, in fact: Many went on to explode and revolutionize it even further. What a thing.

Does this mean the Archbishop is completely wrong? Not at all. No one anywhere doubts the Internet and social networking have dramatically changed our notions of culture, of community, even "friendship" for the better and the worse. They've even induced some lost souls toward suicide. They are, quite obviously, a giant mixed-bag hellbeast of innovation and ignorance and suffering and joy. Duh.

But I have a message for the Very Concerned Archbishop and those like him, those who mostly see nothing but dread and trouble and instability as we hurl further and faster toward the iFuture.

It is this: For every troubled kid who's killed herself over her lack of Facebook pseudofriends or because someone dissed her fat thighs in her party pix, countless more lives have been saved -- and I mean that quite literally -- via those same Internet mechanisms, by being able to find like-minded souls on the Web, by discovering they are not alone in their fears, their anxieties, their fantasies, their quirks and dark thoughts and fetishes for everything from Twilight to rubber ball gags and horsetail butt plugs and French deconstructionist films.

In fact, it's safe to say that countless humans have even bonded -- and here's where it gets really good -- over their deep mistrust of the church itself, over their doubts about Christian God and their need to define their own ideas, their own souls on their own terms.

In other words, it's safe to say the real danger of social networking is not to the mental stability and social skillset of its young users, so much as it is to the established order, the institutions and archaic modes of rigid thought that came before (just ask Iran and China, shutting down social networks left and right as millions of young revolutionaries connect and share information).

Well, well. No wonder the Archbishop fears the iFuture. It's not the Facebook generation that's in danger of spinning out and losing control. It's him, and all his dour organization represents. What's not to like?
« Last Edit: 2009-08-06 21:44:10 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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