Monday, February 04, 2008

Wired to God II: to be is to bebo

The second article in the Wired to God series (written by myself and Aled Elias) has just been published in the latest issue of Free Magazine. This one tackles social networking - the cybertrinity of Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. At least we came up with a better title than recent articles in Evangelicals Now (Facebook Faceoff) and Third Way (Face Off)! Although, as always, the Third Way article was extremely helpful stuff.

As opportunities to initiate and maintain virtual relationships develop, it's an interesting question as to what level of authenticity can be achieved in such relationships. On one level, letter writing (as used by the apostles) works on a similar principle, but letter writing is intimate and considered compared with the opportunities for the indiscriminate presentation of the self to the world which social networking sites bring. SN sites tend to drive shallow, self-driven views of relationship, rather than relationships built on love for others. It can be 'look at me', rather than 'how are you?'.

And with virtual churches such as Vurch and now churches being planted in Second Life, the validity of virtual selves and of virtual relationships needs questioning. The principle can be applied in the real world as well as the virtual - how much time are we spending promoting ourselves and how much time serving others?