Unsocial Networking

Posted by on May 4, 2011

Osama bin Laden’s death, I’m sure you’ve noticed, has sparked a firestorm in the world of social networking. Facebook statuses and Tweets have gone mad – literally. People have posted how happy they are that our enemy has been defeated. Others insist we should mourn. Unfortunately, for most people, it seems we must choose between two mutually exclusive options.

More nuanced positions have been well stated by Christians who see our citizenship in two kingdoms or, as Augustine worded it, “two cities” but they’ve needed blogs or fuller length articles to do so.

See Justin Taylor’s roundup of several postings worth reading: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/05/02/how-should-christians-think-about-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden/

These thoughtful writers have urged us to seek not only a combination of both rejoicing and grieving but tempered forms of both. We rejoice that evil has been punished but with a sense of mourning that our world needs to take such drastic measures. We grieve but with a certain sense of rightness about it.

But it’s hard to say all that with only 140 characters. Hence, tweets have mostly been all one or the other. Nuanced, complex thinking doesn’t attract people to your wall on Facebook. The medium dictates the message more than it should. And I fear it’s shaping more than just our words.

As thoughtful Christians, living in a “now but not yet” stage of salvation history, holding allegiances to two cities, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to express grace and faith without dumbing ourselves down. How ironic that “social networking” by its very nature may be making us unsociable.

Not too long ago, The Atlantic ran a cover story entitled, “Is Google Making Us Stoopid?” It might also be worth asking, “Is Facebook Making Us Rude?”

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