Category: Internet

The approaching scourge of virtual-reality porn

Before the Internet, it was easy to think of pornography as a worldly problem far removed from the church. Videos and magazines could only be bought in stores, which required showing one’s face at a public establishment - something most Christians probably avoided. But by the time I was 15, I had a computer in my room with a wire to the world. Suddenly, pornography could be accessed at the touch of a button…  [more]

Engaging relationally with our information age

Anyone with a smartphone knows we exist in an information age. While the vast expanse of information available at our fingertips may seem majestic on the surface, we’ve grown increasingly accustomed to the instant availability of data. In a recent Time article Lev Grossman discussed what he called “humanity’s newest problem: data.” Considering the rapid rate at which the availability of data…  [more]

The pastoral implications of Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post

I’ve been thinking about what I will do the next time I have occasion to make eye contact with Sheryl Sandberg. It will happen eventually. My husband works at Facebook. I’ve had a few brief in-real-life interactions with her (the company Christmas party and a hello in the parking lot). Even in passing, she was warm and genuine. She made an effort to look me in the eye and say hello. A few days after her…  [more]

Miranda Sings and the many faces of narcissism

YouTuber Colleen Ballinger’s malaprop-mad persona, Miranda Sings, has a lot of “suscribers” pretty “essited” by her cat sweaters, garish lips and blaring songs. As Miranda, Ballinger burpily parodies everybody from illiterate online commenters to basic girls to inspirational speakers to do-it-yourselfers to inept webcammers. Next month, Miranda will be sharing her wisdom in a book…  [more]

The difference between outrage and accountability

I was recently reading the newspaper when I came across a story that pushed my outrage button hard: a public figure, one whose position depends utterly on public trust, was exposed as a hypocrite, an egomaniac and a liar. I composed a snarky tweet in my head, pulled out my iPhone and began to type. But somewhere between the 140th character and “send,” I paused. A humiliating hashtag was already trending.…  [more]

Craig Detweiler on Apple, Google and other “iGods”

Calvin College's January Series is still underway, but organizers were kind enough to share this video of one of the more intriguing talks so far: Craig Detweiler's discussion of "iGods." Based on his book, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, Detweiler's presentation explored the "big four" entities that dominate our digital existence - Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google - and…  [more]

Deathswitch: the latest attempt to reach beyond the grave

In the digital era, mortality takes on a new dimension. Consider Deathswitch, which offers users the opportunity to communicate important messages after their death and even the ability to communicate well into the future. Deathswitch checks in with users periodically and, if a specified number of attempts to reach the user go unanswered, the system automatically sends out the user’s pre-written messages to…  [more]

Hacking for the Kingdom?

In an age when net neutrality is under attack, personal information is anything but personal and identity theft is on the rise, “hacktivism” (the practice of hacking an organization’s data pools in order to draw attention to a social or political issue or gain information to advance such a cause) presents itself as a force for good on the Internet. Perhaps most famously among the hacktivists is the…  [more]

What Christians lose if we don’t have net neutrality

It’s been a weird couple of weeks on the digital frontier. People of faith and fans of the not-so-mainstream should particularly pay attention. President Barack Obama officially spoke in favor of net neutrality on Monday, advising the FCC to issue rules that would prevent massive corporations from dominating the new media landscape by creating Internet “fast lanes” for themselves, while leaving…  [more]

Samaritans Radar, suicide prevention and the limits of social networking

When the suicide-prevention organization Samaritans launched a Twitter app Oct. 29, they called it “an online safety net.” The Samaritans Radar app scans tweets from accounts a user is following, looking for phrases that may indicate a person is at risk for suicide. Once the risk is identified, the app alerts the subscriber via email, sharing the cause for concern and suggestions for reaching out and…  [more]

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