A couple of weeks ago, John and I went to see The Social Network. The simplest explanation of the movie is that it is about the founders of Facebook. "People wanna go online and check out their friends, so why not build a website that offers that. I'm talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online." It is based in fact but is really a fictionalized account of a time about which no two people involved will tell the same story.
At its most complex, though, it is about our society's narcissism and continual desire to have the world revolve around us. This is most clearly seen in the movie when the main character, Mark Zuckerburg, ruins his relationship with his girlfriend and then blogs some truly horrible things about her. Later, he tries to apologize, but she, very rightly says, "...As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared. The internet's not written in pencil, Mark. It's written in ink...You write your snide bulls**t from a dark room because that's what the angry do nowadays. I was nice to you. Don't torture me for it." This is Facebook to a t. How many status updates have gone up with little or no thought and have hurt or offended for no good reason. (Offending for the gospel is one thing. Offending because you have something clever to say and can't think through the consequences is another.)
Many more insightful and erudite writers have written about the implications of this movie so I won't try, but this movie brings up some excellent questions about life on the internet. Another character, Sean Parker, says something like, "First, we lived on farms, then in cities. Now we're going to live on-line." What does this mean for us as a nation, as a culture, as a church, as families and as individuals? In a world that seems so far from 1st century Galilee, what does Christianity look like now? How do we as a church minister to those who live, essentially, on-line? What happens to the rest of civilization while our best and brightest pour out their best and brightest on a keyboard and cursor?
And, finally, did the world experience a similar identity crisis when the printing press was invented?
Ooh, that was good. I think I'll post that as my Facebook status.