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Limits of Digital Fellowship

Lindsey Carlson has an excellent piece on The Plastic Fruit of Online Living where she makes the following observation :
Avoiding real-life connections—the ones you see every Sunday morning—to unpack your heart in the digital community doesn’t only set you up for a delusional view of self, disappointment with your physical community, and social isolation; it also breeds spiritual stagnancy.

No matter how great your internet friends are, they aren’t standing beside you, sensing your suffocating self-absorption. They don’t see you at your worst or notice when you’re avoiding fellowship or suffering from spiritual depression. They won’t pick up on your dissatisfaction with your spouse, your constant bitterness or negativity, or your refusal to forgive the friend who hurt you. But real-life friends, the ones who can drive to your doorstep when you call, will.

I need friends who will get in my grill, iron sharpening iron, and help me to conquer sin head-on. I may turn a blind eye to my own social media slickness, but true friends won’t. I need to be confronted by my sinfulness in real life, where there’s no filter and no delete button.
From Lindsey Carlson's excellent piece The Plastic Fruit of Online Living. In short not only do we need to be careful that our online lives do not displace our physical fellowships, we also need to recognise the dangers inherent in online living. In particular that it breeds self-obsession and pride. The accumulation of "followers" and "fans", who click "likes" and "retweets" only serves to make us more easily worship the self. And really that is very dangerous place to be in.

If there's a small criticism of Carlon's article is that it does not quite delve into how Christians are to find the balance or what full submission to God may look like in practice given the pervasive force of digitial "fellowships". Is it total withdraw, partial withdraw? How should Christian live out their lives in an age of synthetic relationships?

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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