Saturday, February 12, 2011

a theology for friend me? a review of social network

The Social Network
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee (in the Gospel of Mark), he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. Come, be my facebook friend, Jesus said, and you can welcome new members into my social network.  Later (in the Gospel of John) Jesus said, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s facebook friends.  Such is the RFV, the Revised Facebook Version.

Facebook is a social networking website. Users create a personal profile. They are then able to add other users as friends, exchange messages and enjoy a range of ways by which to interact and engage with these friends.

Its success is astonishing.

An idea hatched at Harvard less than seven years ago is now estimated to connect over half a billion people. Together these people spend a total of 700 million minutes a month networking. In other words, a twelfth of humanity, a social group almost twice as large as the U.S, is engaged in finding and following friends.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg was recently announced as TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year. A billionaire six times over, Zuckerberg is known for his frugality and philanthropy.

He is also the main subject of the movie, The Social Network. It is an engrossing movie, a deserved Golden Globe winner (best film drama, director, screenplay and musical score). Beautifully directed by David Fincher, tightly written by Aaron Sorkin (of The West Wing fame) the script links a set of court cases with the unfolding story of Zuckerberg, and Facebook’s, rise to fame.

While well-written, The Social Network bears little resemblance to real life.  On screen Mark Zuckerberg, well played by new actor, Jesse Eisenberg, is a selfish social climber. The movie opens with his public humiliation of girlfriend, Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). It then charts how Zuckerberg employs his formidable computer skills in the vengeful pursuit of fame, fortune and females.

The Mark Zuckerberg of real life seems remarkably different. Rather than revenge, the key to Zuckerberg’s success, according to those interviewed by TIME magazine, is his deeply empathetic knowledge of the human psyche. Zuckerberg believes in relationships of trust and longs for a set of social networks that enable a more open and connected world.

The Social Network, and the Facebook phenomena question how we relate.  What does it mean to “friend” someone? How should people, whether face to face or virtual, connect? Should a person’s private past appear on an employers internet search?

These are Gospel questions. Some two thousand years ago, Jesus invited people to enter a social network, called the Kingdom.  The relationships would be more open, egalitarian and just. He envisaged a change in the way people relate to each other and to God: as friends.

New users of this Jesus network were invited to be born again. This included the offer of a new future possible because the past no longer appeared up on a Divine search engines set for forgiveness. Such is The Social Network of the Kingdom.

Posted by steve at 10:33 AM

1 Comment

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by emergentkiwi, Jesus. Jesus said: YES!! A Jesus Network theology from New Zealand. Let's expand the network: "Some two thousand years ago, Jesus… http://fb.me/vqr1qPF4 [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention sustain:if:able kiwi » a theology for friend me? a review of social network -- Topsy.com — February 12, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

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