Migrating

I first began blogging in November 2009, which is also when I joined Facebook. Since then I’ve written many blog posts, status updates and tweets. At least half a dozen domain names have been registered by me with great ideas of stuff I’d like to publish but time and motivation have failed to follow through.

As my own interests, goals and motivation for online writing has morphed over these four years and as social media has evolved into a gigantic advertising machine, it seems time to transition from a niche blog with a strong focus on a single (major) aspect of my life to a more general personal blog that can serve as my online hub.

To some this may be viewed as a backwards step – there are millions of largely un-read personal blogs out there so why add to the mass? My defence: “Facebook made me do it!”

You see, I hate advertising. It really pisses me off, especially when it is intrusive and poorly done, as is most online advertising. Over the last 12 months the big social media sites have been steadily increasing the proportion of advertisements being inserted into timelines. So have the ‘news’ websites, using trivial entertainment to attract pageviews to generate advertising revenue. Finally I am grumpy enough to make a move.

My personal view is that the ‘free-but-supported-by-advertising’ model deserves to die a miserable death. I realise I am in the minority but feel strongly enough about this to not only reduce my use of Facebook and Twitter but also to pay for website hosting on the Squarespace platform in preference to using WordPress.com in order to stop supporting an advertising based business model.

Inspired by Aisling

fear-and-faith

My (first) blog (Words of Eternal Life) was born as a flow-on effect from a tragedy that deeply touched my heart in October 2009 when two-year-old Aisling Symes disappeared suddenly, and despite extensive searches could not be found. As the search continued and fears for Aisling’s safety grew, a Facebook page was set up to offer support for the family. I had not previously used Facebook, but wanted to leave a message so signed up to the site.

Facebook confronted me with both a marvelous mechanism to connect with people and also a fantastic array of utterly trivial and quite pointless time wasters. I did notice, however, that some people were writing excellent articles and posting them on Facebook. Then I realized these were in fact blog feeds and this started me pondering whether I should confront the low-grade content on Facebook with something a bit more edifying to the soul than Farmville and the likes.

So little Aisling induced me to join Facebook, which then seeded the idea of starting a blog. What you are reading is the result, and being born out of the memory of Aisling it has a sober tone to it, an awareness of how precious life is and how essential faith in Christ is given that life can be so short. My prayers go out to Aisling’s parents and sister and I thank them for their own faith in Jesus which is also an inspiration and encouragement that Christ is sufficient for all we need.

The idolatrous discarnation of social media

I learned a new word today courtesy of Tim Challies who wrote some advice for pastors on using Facebook. He commented that there is a risk of becoming discarnate by substituting an online presence for real in-the-flesh (incarnate) interactions with people. His use of the word ‘disincarnate’ immediately caused me to think of Christ as God incarnate (as I suspect was Tim’s intention) and now the Church as the body of Christ in the world, in contrast to the strange ethereal melting pot of ideas and outbursts that is the internet and social media.

We now even even speak of having an online or virtual presence, in effect creating (or re-creating) ourselves in our own image. The innate sinful human nature so exchanges the glory of God incarnate in Christ for a cheap lie (Romans 1:21-23) that the literal images we use in social media to represent our presence are perversely called ‘avatars‘ (the manifestation of a Hindu deity).

The more I ponder this, the more abhorrent our self-idolatry and discarnation of true relationships appears to my Christian mind. God became flesh and dwelt amoung us (John 1:14), the final commission from Jesus was to (physically) “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). As Christians we are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and while we are in the flesh we are to labour for the progress and joy of other believers (Philippians 1:24-25).

Both the first and second commandments of the decalogue (Exodus 20:3-4) stand opposed to the sort of virtual persona that is commonly used in social media and other realms of the internet. God delights to see truth in our inner being (Psalm 51:6) and out of such truthfulness we must not project a false image of ourselves into cyberspace.

Beyond that, we also need to humble ourselves in acknowledgment that it is only God who is omnipresent, only he can promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20), we are finite – limited be both time and space. The nature of such limitations imposed by God should alert us to the importance of our physical lives and face-to-face relationships.

Prayerlessness and social media

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.
John Piper 2:02 PM Oct 20th, 2009

My response to this was “ouch!”, it hits me on a sensitive spot – not only how I interact with social media, but the internet and computers in general. It also reminds me of another penetrating comment from John Piper:

We are made to know Christ; we are not made to do little diddly things.