Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Thankful Ignatian Poetry Online

Last March, I attended a workshop on pastoral care at Fordham University. It was the beginning of Lent and I spent a little time praying in the chapel before the workshop started. I picked up some literature about the Ignatian Daily Examen and thought about how I might work aspects of it into my prayer life.

In May, I went to a poetry conference at Yale Divinity School, where there was additional discussions about Ignatian spirituality, including references to the Daily Examen. It struck me. I should write my reflections from a Daily Examen as poems.

So I started two months ago. My goal was to put up a new post every evening. Over time, the poems have become shorter fragments. I haven’t always managed to polish and post them in the evening and at times, I’ve posted several at once after the fact.

I’ve also thought of this practice as part of other goals. Bringing poetry and gratitude into the daily discourse online. At times friends of mine have participated in gratitude challenges. Some post regularly about Thankful Thursdays. Others post wonderful poems about the stuff of their daily lives. It seems like these sort of posts are especially important in these current days.

I’m not sure what I will do with the Daily Examen posts I have put up. Some I may further polish into better, more complete poems. Some might be combined with others for some sort of longer poem.

I’m not sure yet. However, I invite all of you to join me in a poetic Daily Examen. A good card that is helpful in thinking about the Daily Examen can be found on the Ignatian Spirituality website.

Random Thoughts about Social Media and the Reterritorialization of the Culture Industry.

Recently, I’ve been reading Exploring Videogames with Deleuze and Guittari and thinking about things like the culture industry, reterritorialization, and how it relates to social media and other stuff. I do not claim to have a firm or accurate grasp on these ideas.

With regards to culture industry, I’m talking about those who create, distribute, or benefit from the creation or distribution of cultural norms and artifacts. I’m taking this idea from Exploring Videogames with Deleuze and Guittari where the author talks about the videogame industry as part of the culture industry, along with other forms of art like film or painting. However, I’m wondering if we should really think a bit more broadly to include entertainment, news media, social media, religion, education, and politics, all of which are shaping our culture in new or different ways as a result of digital media. How must artists, journalists, priests, politicians, and teachers adapt to digital media?

The idea of reterritorialization is even more interesting to me. What as the borders of the culture industry shift, as people get left behind, get left in some sort of liminal space, and as others, once liminal find themselves in the center of things.

Prior to writing this, I had put down a few thoughts about things going on in Facebook. It seems somehow related.

I am starting the New Year with just over 3,100 friends on Facebook. Generally, I’ve been pretty lenient about adding friends. If I get a friend request from someone that has shared interests and shared friends, I’m fairly likely to accept the request. Yet Facebook limits the number of friends you can have to five thousand, and various people I know are hitting up against that barrier and starting to trim their friend lists. Different people are approaching this in different ways.

Just as I am fairly lenient about which friend requests I accept, I am loath to unfriend people because of what they write. I hold on to the idea that I can listen to others and learn from them. Perhaps they can learn from me as well. Perhaps we can have a dialog.

Yet over the past few days, I’ve unfriended a couple people. One person said if you are going to post about politics, religion, or sports, he would unfollow. I post regularly about politics and religion, so I saved him the bother and unfriended him. He didn’t have a lot of interest to say anyway. Another person, a devout evangelical atheist, filled his news feed with atheist tracts. He gloated about his unwillingness to consider other opinions and the fact that people who disagreed with him were unfollowing him. So, I unfollowed him as well.

Also, I’ve been seeing a bunch of people saying they are leaving social media, at least for the time being. I can understand the desire or even need to do that. Yet at the same time, it seems important for those who can stick around to remain as a positive influence.

What Next in Social Media?

Today, I received invitations to two new social media networks. Treem and Crowdify. They aren’t necessarily all that new, but they are new to me.

Tream’s pitch claims that “a majority of Americans (51.9%) are thinking about dropping out from social media this year”. The top two reasons they list are people wanting to avoid fake news and arguments about Trump. While the reasons sound legit, the assertion about a majority of Americans thinking about dropping out of social media doesn’t sound quite right. It’s interesting how ‘legit’ gets used in conversation these days.

Both Tream and Crowdify appear to be offering ways that people can earn money for their posts. I will spend a little time looking at them to see if they really add value.

As I think of what’s going on in social media, a few other things come to mind. Dan Edwards, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese in Nevada posted on Facebook a few examples of times when he’s posted things aimed at starting conversations and helping people reconnect, only to receive lots of comments that shut down discussions. He concludes, “We have a lot of work to do”.

So yes, there are issues of trust and community online. There are issues of who gets what money out of social networks. Yet from my perspective, there are some other bigger usability issue that need to be considered, especially as we get more and more information coming at us.

I hope to explore some of these issues in some coming blog posts.

Coping with Trauma and Grief in the Digital World.

I understand that when people are grieving telling them to get over it isn’t usually very productive, but I’ve been seeing a lot of #Fuck2016 posts recently about different celebrities that have died this year and I’m starting to see people responding with “get over it”. I must admit, I’m feeling a little bit more in line with the “get over it” crew.

Celebrities die every year; important ones, ones that have shaped our lives. It is sad. We grieve. We remember how they entertained us, how they brought meaning to our lives. A standard response this year, has been to add #fuck2016. Have a substantially higher number of celebrities died this year? I don’t know. Is it that the celebrities are now childhood favorites of people on social media? In 2003, instead of posting #fuck2003 online when Bob Hope died, did people express their grief over a beer at the American Legion? “Remember his Christmas Show in Saigon?”

Other people die every year too. Important to those who loved them. Children in Chicago killed by gun violence. Christopher Brandon-Luckett, Diego Alvarado, Jovan Wilson, and many others.

To put things all into perspective, today is the Feast of Holy Innocents, when we remember the children killed by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus.

So, why is #Fuck2016 so popular right now? Is it that it has simply become the acceptable way to express grief over the death of celebrities? A new behavior normalized through its use in social media?

Or, is there perhaps something else going on, like Collective Trauma? Perhaps it is a combination of the two, since newly normalized behaviors may be a cause or result of collective trauma.

Perhaps most importantly, how do we respond? I posted links to stories of kids killed by gun violence in Chicago on Facebook. I wrote this blog post, and I’m exploring other ways of coping with trauma and grief in the digital world. What are your thoughts?

Praying for Milton

Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook about a review of a church his wife works at that starts off, “These people are Zigeuner trash. These Gypsies should be all be rounded up and exterminated”. He said he had reported the post to Facebook, but they were not taking down the post.

I’ve shared my friend’s post a few different places suggesting others request the review be taken down or that the review gets drowned out by positive reviews. I am not a big fan of removing content, or of trying to silence other people’s speech, even if it is hateful or promotes violence. I’ve had to do it for work, and I often wonder if it is the best approach.

Who is Milton? What has happened in his life that fills him with such hate and hurt? What has gone on in his life that makes him think it is okay to post stuff like this. I set these thoughts aside, and got on with my day.

Throughout the day, as I read articles about the anniversary of Sandy Hook, the conviction of Dylan Roof, and the latest news about President-Elect Donald Trump, my mind went back to Milton.

I believe it is a sin to refer to any person as ‘trash’ and I wondered about the word “Zigeuner”. Wikipedia says this is a racist term most likely from a Greek word meaning “untouchable” used to describe Romanians and Gypsies, especially by those, like the Nazi’s, intent on genocide. My sense of Milton as a broken person, a sinner in desperate need of God’s love became clearer.

I did a little searching online. Milton’s Facebook page talked about going to various elite schools, but the times didn’t make a lot of sense. He posted a very positive review of a church in New York.

He posted on the page of a Bar “I hope you die.” about a week ago.

All of this made me think of Evan. What are we supposed to do when we see someone posting about death, hatred, and genocide? My first reaction is to pray for Milton. To this, I’ve posted a comment on many of his posts that I am praying for him.

I am sharing this post as a question to all of us about how we respond online.

Syndicate content