Let’s Fly The Jolly Roger!

Of course Christianity is not political so we’re not allowed to make a stand against oppression.

Personalisation – The Internet Filter Bubble and Facebook

This Ted Talk came from Carole reminding me of a blog I wrote for the Big Bible site about Theological Ghettos.  The way the internet works at the moment disturbs me as it edits out the things it believes I don’t want to see.  Google shows me what I want to see.  An algorithm decides what my world should look like.  Google essentially feeds me pictures of Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu and Eddie Van Halen.  That kind of thing.  Give the people what they want!  And why not?

Facebook recently introduced a change to the way it works.  It has started to push content to your friends when you click “like” or comment upon a post.  I assume this means that every time I click like on a Star Wars meme is is pushed through to some of my friends.  As they are friends with me they must clearly be interested in the same things as I am – this is the logic that Facebook is employing.

This has shattered my internet filter bubble.  The world now looks a little different than before.  In the past week I have discovered that a “friend” of a “friend” likes the EDL.  I’ve seen numerous racist memes.  I’ve discovered that there is a more unpleasant underbelly to the society I am part of.  A less pleasant world that I was happily living without.  No doubt my friends have discovered that I talk about ‘vicar things’ a lot more than they thought previously.

It won’t come as a surprise to you to discover that I am “politically liberal” and so are a large proportion of my friends.  However, Facebook has just let everyone’s guard down.  Everyone is now less able to hide “the real you” from the world of Facebook unless they choose not to engage with it.  Every click potentially outs you as the person who “likes” pictures of fluffy kittens.  Alternatively you may find your more sinister side on display for the world to see as you are “outed” as a secret Belieber.

#OccupyInequality

The situation at St Paul’s cathedral in the UK has brought the issue of financial ethics to the forefront of The Church’s thinking.  If I’m honest, I didn’t know anyone in the church for whom it wasn’t already.  Global finance is a topic that is too big for one person to fix by themselves and I am a bear of little brain but I will continue to engage with the issues as they arise.  One of my friends posted some of their difficulties with the protest on Facebook.

I think my issue with the protests is that, in the UK, we have free healthcare, education, social security and endless affordable distractions and comforts.

If a banker can make a million by skimming off a thousandth of a percent off the business – is that really a bigger sin than one of us choosing to buy cheap imported goods without asking about worker welfare?

A dozen men cream off a tiny proportion off the bottom of a balance sheet vs a million britons promoting child labour in the third world and putting a thousand local breadwinners on the dole by shutting the mills and factories?

Apologies to him for posting it here but he has made me think!  All afternoon!  My gut reaction was to say – well… yes.

Then I started to think about all of these issues and the global situation.  I believe resolutely that my lifestyle should not be at the expense of someone living in another country.  I do not want goods available on the high street at the expense of the poorest in society!  However, I think that reading the protester’s cause as about the “bankers” misrepresents them.  Their website sums up their position with no mention of bankers at all. 

Our global system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust, driven by profit in the interest of the few.

The protesters are bringing attention to the global financial system and the way in which it operates.  This is the system that allows a big corporation to produce goods using child labour and sell them on the high street to an unsuspecting public.  This is where the bottom of the balance sheet it.  This is the place where the cream is found.

Please watch the TED talk above about inequality.  The economy in the UK works relatively to other economies.  However, it also works relatively between the people within it.  #OccupyInequality

Information Overload

Kester Brewin has posted an interesting blog about ‘The Problem with Digital Culture [1]: Too Much, Too Fast’.  This is an issue I have been pondering over the last few weeks.  The internet has revolutionised the way in which we process information as it comes flying at us in faster ways with increasing clickability.  As I type this blog I have already included a link to another that links to some more in a never-ending cascade of information.

Imagine a conveyor-belt of various items coming towards you, some important, some not so. It’s going at a pace which allows you to take each object, think about it and then classify it, categorise it in your own taxonomy, and store it. It’s not the fastest process, but things do get put away tidily.

Now speed up the belt. Why? Because it means you get more stuff. LOTS more stuff. So much stuff is now coming at you that you just don’t have the time to think about it or categorise it. You just throw it over your shoulder into your store and hope it comes in useful one day when you’ve got more time and aren’t so anxious about missing something really important which might be coming down the line.

The increased availability of information and the free flow of information isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The internet connects ideas together and provides the joined up thinking.  The TED talk I blogged earlier in the week shows the amazing possibilities of the free flow of information.  I know that I wouldn’t be as good a guitarist, photographer, theologian…. cook…. without these principles.

Like many train journeys, life seems to pass at increasing speed whilst we sit in the carriage trying to catch a glimpse of something we have passed.  It seems that we often give ourselves whiplash as we spin to look for the moments we have missed.  This also has an impact upon our creativity.  Jonny Baker blogged this video this morning.

The means to networking our creativity are pushing us to greater achievements than ever before as we are inspired by those people who live the other side of the world.  However, those networks create information onslaught which may actually be blocking our creativity by preventing our contemplation? 

On Sunday Dr Ruth led a meditation based on a CBT technique she uses at work.  We took five minutes to contemplate a raisin using all of our different senses.  I had no idea that raisins made noise!  I wonder what else I would notice if I took time out to contemplate it. 

And so I head out for lunch with Dr Ruth, perhaps a coffee and then a birthday bash this evening with friends.