The tree of good and evil is a good analogy for the internet.
Our lives are shaped by the information we consume—and we can’t do much about it.
by Rachel Pyle
Yes, it's another year-of narrative. But Esther Emery offers a moving story about the possibility of change.
What if someone released all our e-mails and texts? It would make the Ashley Madison hack look quaint in comparison.
I recently read The Circle, Dave Egger’s dystopian novel about a benevolent Internet company that eerily creeps into every aspect of our lives, taking it over, one smiley emoticon at a time. Think about it like this: a company encompasses Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and then it begins to partner with the government.
Most of us who work in a church can see parallels between bookstores and church. We had small, physical spaces in which we met and built community. We watched as big-box churches moved in, allowing for many more options, but individuals became much more anonymous in the process. Now, we know there are a growing number of people who are leaving church, but the search for God is still happening digitally.
New research from Carnegie Mellon University confirms what we already knew: Yes, distraction does make us stupider. The little red flag at the bottom of my computer screen is not a harmless little reminder that I am not alone in the world. It is a constant invitation not to finish a thought.
Computers are changing the way we think. "Calm, focused,
undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of
mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short,
disjointed, often overlapping bursts—the faster, the better." This is
probably not a good thing, says Nicholas Carr.
We asked some expert observers of the religion scene how they are navigating the new media. What do they read, watch and listen to? How have their reading, listening and viewing habits changed over the past decade?Here's Mark Silk: "I’ve always been a news junkie. I still take two dead-tree newspapers—the New York Times and the Hartford Courant. I look at the Washington Post every morning, and I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered while driving to and from work. At work, I’m in thrall to the continuous news cycle. I check the AP wire on Yahoo as soon as I sit down at my desk, and then scan the general-interest blogs and blogzines—the Daily Dish, Politico, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, the Daily Beast."
Like most pastors, I claim that the face-to-face meeting is the best way to do the ministry of the church; also like most pastors, I spend an enormous amount of time reading and composing e-mails. I am driven not so much by my own schedule or preferences as by those of my church members. Many of them use e-mail all day long and expect the church to do the same. If I want to keep up, I have to keep typing.
"Oreon told me she’s praying for you,” my husband, Gary, said in between bites. We were having dinner one night when I was having a particularly stressful time at work. Gary is a pastor at a downtown Chicago church, and Oreon is one of the staff members there. “Why is Oreon praying for me?” I asked. I hadn’t had more than a passing hello with Oreon in weeks. “She saw your Facebook status message,” he said.