Archive - Apr 9, 2012

Date

A Resurrection Postscript on the Societies of Control

In one of the reviews of The Hunger Games, spoke reference The Panopticon, a building designed in the eighteenth century where all the prisoners were observed. Has the Internet become the new Panopticon? What does The Hunger Games tell us about this phenomenon of social media and reality television and always being observed?

As I've thought and read about this, I've stumbled in Foucault's Societies of Discipline and Deleuze's Societies of Control. They paint a bleak picture of The Panopticon, but I stopped to think about how others react to being always observed in social media. Instead of being a mechanism of a society of control, for many social media becomes a performance space. What is it causes these different reactions to social media? Are those who view social media as a performance space deluding themselves into thinking it isn't a society of control? Or, are those concerned about being observed, the ones that are limiting themselves?

One video that I watched talked about the whole idea of the panopticon as part of a disciplinary society as coming from theology about an ever watching god, ready to hand out judgement, the god of the law.

All of these thoughts rattled around in my mind as we entered Holy Week. Mixing these ideas together, does the Resurrection, moving us from a world of the law to a world of grace relate to how people perceive social media? Those who live by grace in social media view being observed as part of a performance space, where random acts of kindness, generosity and creativity can take place, not because we are afraid of being observed, but because as we are observed, we can spread the kindness, generosity and creativity wider?

Perhaps some of this also ties back to Maslow. Those for whom basic needs like food and shelter are challenges, may not be able to live by faith that the Lord will provide. They need to control things around them, to make sure they get their food and don't get cheated out of it. Others, stay stuck in this place, even if they have more money than they know what to do with.

Those who have been blessed with plentitude, or at least faith that their needs will be met, can step away from these societies of discipline or control to societies of grace, where kindness, generosity and creativity can flourish. They can embrace social media as a means to help kindness, generosity and creativity flourish.

Perhaps they can be a little closer to the image of god in which they are created, loving, creative beings.

And what if such grace filled lives became the norm? Perhaps that is utopian, and presents a strong contrast to the dystopian stories of The Hunger Games, or dystopian lives that people are around us find themselves trapped in.

To what extent is is possible to harness social media as a space for utopian kindness, generosity and creativity?

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