Cyberfizh explores faith in the net of life: innerspace, outerspace, and cyberspace, from a predominantly but not exclusively Christian perspective, representing the views of no one other than me. The Christian symbol ICTHUS on a circuit board encapsulates the fusion of ideas brought together in cyberfizh.
I have been an Anglican priest in the Church of England for over twenty years. I am a father of three grown up children who are my best (or worst!) critics. I have a passion for new technologies that has existed since I was a child and saw my older brother’s Atari home microcomputer and the possibilities it could unleash. I seek to engage with anyone interested in how these technologies continue to shape us.
In 1964 Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase,”The medium is the message”, meaning that the form of a communication medium (books, films, etc) embeds itself in the message, creating a relationship by which the medium influences how the message is shaped and received.
Neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, in her book ‘Mind Change: How Digital Technologies are leaving their mark on our Brains’, notes:
‘In a 2011 report ‘Virtual Lives’ , researchers for the UK children’s charity Kidscape assessed the online activities of over 2000 – 11 to 18 year olds: just under half of the children questioned said they behaved differently online compared to their normal lives, with many claiming it made them feel more powerful and confident.’
The internet encourages users to be ‘interactive’ participants, contributing to the message as it is communicated. Digital media is not merely replacing books but shaping our learning experiences, social interactions, and world views. British musician, broadcaster, and religious commentator, Vicky Beeching, explores some of the implications for the Christian Church in the video clip below.
We live in the age of the ‘meme’, a phrase first coined in 1976 by the evolutionary biologist and self-professed atheist, Richard Dawkins, to describe small pieces of culture that spread from person to person by imitation but with the possibility heightened in the digital age for more rapid distribution and adaptation. The digital meme defines our post-modern condition filled with irony, interaction, and anxiety.
The Christian gospels were originally written in, Koine Greek, ‘ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος’, or “the common dialect.” They were composed in the everyday language of the Roman Empire. In the twenty first century social media is increasingly becoming our everyday language and the meme is one of its common expressions.
Memes, like the parables of Jesus, can be creative and subversive – challenging conventional attitudes. Within social media the meme is not only becoming the medium but the message itself in our context – but is it enough?
Let me begin by replying, “Virtually…” 🙂