In her media column for the Century last month, Kathryn Reklis, a theology professor at Fordham University, wrote about the many times a day that social media asks her to watch a video and feel something. “You too will cry after watching this . . . 90 percent of people cry,” the Facebook post tells her. She argues that, while kitschy, these videos contain the power of shared feeling, and shared feeling is a step toward empathy and a further step toward compassion—and so, in essence, a social good. I am not sure I agree.
Several times a day, my Facebook feed invites me to cry, laugh, or feel amazed. I click almost every time.
It's hard to know what to do and what not to do on the Internet. These are new forms of communicating, so we're trying out different rules of engagement. Often our social behavior forms by what gets on people's nerves.
We're making up the rules of Internet engagement as different platforms evolve. So I figure it's always good to check in with some experts to find out how things are developing. Conventions usually come about when irritations arise, so I asked a few friends what vexes them.
I frequently encounter rudeness on the Internet. When I do, I want to say, “Didn't anyone teach you any manners?” And then I realize that the rules of engagement are all different on the Internet. In fact, we’re kind of making them up as we go along. So, I asked a few friends for advice.
People are looking to their computers, tablets, and phones for sacred moments. How are churches responding?
Do I think we can have a reasoned debate about race, homophobia, and free speech in 140 characters? Do I think that it’s good to get my anxiety and blood pressure bursting from the comment sections?
Social commentators warn that if you don't manage your social media identity, someone else will. I recently learned this the hard way.
If Christian liturgy works on the imagination, so do disordered secular liturgies. Social media—despite its good uses—might be one example.