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Ethics of Facebook

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Joel Oesch

on 7 February 2012

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Transcript of Ethics of Facebook

Is technology morally neutral? Foucault Individualism The Shadow Self Instantaneousness New Metaphors The Market The Victory Garden Bonhoeffer Luther The Market of Facebook Community as a Victory Garden Connectivity vs. Community social networks create a world of customization
the world of applications
friendship approvals and the "not now" button
oversight vs. free expression
an enemy or an ally of Enlightenment thought? "The parent has become the child. This alters values, norms, and expectations. Perhaps the most alarming consequence is that young people are granted startling and unexpected freedom. Like the wayward kid whose parents are always out of town, the digital space is a land without supervision. When the parents become the children, they have little ability to provide oversight, boundaries, or directions to their kids."

-Shane Hipps from "Flickering Pixels" the "almost me" factor
the online avatar and its potential dilemma
if community is what facebook seeks, can authenticity be attained?
the imaginary audience "Indeed, every one of us on Facebook is being 'watched' (at least potentially) by someone else. In many ways, that's part of the website's appeal. It's also part of its influence on the blurring 'self,' because the more we believe we have an audience, the more likely our behavior will reflect that belief. We will live in response to a thousand imagined voices, rather than in response to our own hearts."
-Jessie Rice from "The Church of Facebook" Bibliography Allen, Diogenes and Springsted, Eric. "Philosophy for Understanding Theology" (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2007).
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. "Life Together", trans. by John W. Doberstein (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1954).
___. "Ethics", trans. by Clifford J. Green (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2009).
___. "The Cost of Discipleship", (New York, NY: MacMillan, 1963).
___. "Creation and Fall", (New York, NY: Touchstone, 1997).
Foucault, Michel. "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison", trans. by Alan Sheridan (New York, NY: Second Vintage, 1977, 1995).
Hauerwas, Stanley. "Character, Narrative, and Growth in the Christian Life", in "A Community of Character" (Notre Dame: UND Press, 1981).
Hipps, Shane. "Flickering Pixels", (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
Kant, Immanuel, 'What is Enlightenment?', in "Philosophical Writings", ed. Ernst Behler (New York: Continuum, 1986).
Lewis, C.S. "The Problem of Pain" (New York: Harper Collins, 2001).
Minear, Paul. "Images of the Church in the New Testament" (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2004).
Pannenberg, Wolfhart. "Anthropology in Theological Perspective", trans. by Matthew J. O'Connell (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1985).
Rice, Jesse. "The Church of Facebook" (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2009).
Smith, James K.A. "Who's Afraid of Post-Modernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church" (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006).
Yoder, John Howard. "Body Politics: Five Practives of the Christian Community Before the Watching World" (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1992). Joel Oesch
Contemporary Ethics
February 2, 2011 "If we are asked, 'Do we now live in an enlightened age?' the answer is, 'No,'
but we do live in an age of enlightenment. As things now stand, much is lacking which prevents men from being, or easily becoming, capable of correctly using their own reason in religious matters with assurance and free from outside direction."
-Immanuel Kant power and knowledge inextricably linked
examines institutions for relationships of power/subservience
is an online social network, by its very nature, an expression of power and enslavement?
Foucault's solution? "We get the technology we deserve."
-Stanley Hauerwas Facebook, Ethics, and Community Michel Foucault (1926-1984) "I used to somebody, but now I am
somebody else. And who I'll be tomorrow,
is anybody's guess."
-Bad Blake from "Crazy Heart" "I fought the law and law won."
-The Clash instant judgment vs. unable to make judgments
discovery not as a potentiality, but as inevitability
the lack of context "We think that if you can build one worldwide platform where you can just type in anyone's name, find the person you're looking for, and communicate with them...that's a really valuable system to be building."
-Mark Zuckerberg What is at stake?
Primary issues - ethical concerns contained in specific technology at hand (e.g. Facebook specific)
Secondary issues - ethical concerns arising from an abuse of the general technology secondary issues:
addiction primary issues:
radical individualism and customization
the shadow self
instantaneousness The Features of Bonhoeffer's Community Authentic Chosen Committed Christian community is not something we attempt to enact through some utopian dream; rather, God creates the reality of community.
God chooses man. We do not get to choose the shape of our community.
Human freedom is not boundless. We are designed to limit one another's freedom so that we may participate more fully as members of the Body of Christ. “Jesus does not say: ‘You must be the salt.’ It is not for the disciples to decide whether they will be the salt of the earth, for they are so whether they like it or not…The call of Christ makes those who respond to it the salt of the earth in their total existence.”
-The Cost of Discipleship “Christian fellowship is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
-Life Together "[The Christian] needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother's is sure. And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation."
-Life Together Hauerwas "They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD - the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more."
-Jeremiah 31.12 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved
children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us
and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
-Ephesians 5.1-2 Stanley Hauerwas (b.1940)
imitation before acting on principles
transformation is essence of community, and therefore, is at odds with hyper-autonomy Minear's images of the church (i.e. the vineyard)
the letter to the exiles in Jeremiah: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce" (29.5) Two views:
Technology shapes the actions of the individual and is complicit in the deeds that follow
Technology does not itself interfere with free will, yet it facilitates shifts in cultural attitudes over long periods of time

Example) The Printing Press The rejection of utopian dreams
Confession-absolution at the core of Christian faith
Weakness in the Body of Christ "Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without they weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship."
-Life Together "To be human is to be in conflict, to offend and be offended. To be human in light of the gospel is to face conflict in redemptive dialogue."
-John Howard Yoder Constructed by Bonhoeffer's context within the seminary community
Practical suggestions (e.g. reading of Scripture, prayer)
The suppression of individual needs for the community's health "This is the judgment which always hangs over the disciple community, whose mission is to save the world, but which, if it ceases to live up to that mission, is itself irretrievably lost. The call of Jesus Christ mean either that we are the salt of the earth, or else we are annihilated; either we follow the call or we are crushed beneath it."
-The Cost of Discipleship A Brief History of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (b.1984)
Present manifestation Christ and Culture in Paradox?
victory garden is not self-contained or isolated in entirety
it is "outward facing"
it is located in the most messy places of humanity
its very existence is a cultural and spiritual statement
its inherent risk Transactional Meaningful (yet) Self-serving "For the Christian, morality is not chosen and then confirmed by the example of others; instead, we learn what the moral life entails by imitating another. This is intrinsic to the nature of Christian convictions, for the Christian life requires a transformation of the self that can be accomplished only through direction from a master."
-From "Character, Narrative, and Growth" The Book of Concord "The following phrase, 'the communion of saints,' seems to have been added to explain what 'church' means, namely, the assembly of saints who share the association of the same Gospel or teaching and of the same Holy Spirit, who renews, consecrates, and governs their hearts."
-AAC/VII/8 "I believe that there is on earth a little holy flock or community of pure saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding. It possesses a variety of gifts, yet is united in love without sect or schism... Through [community][Jesus] gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word. By it he creates and increases sanctification, causing it daily to grow and become strong in the faith and in the fruits of the Spirit."
-LC/Creed/51 Conclusions
community has clear purpose, not just a result of human need for sociality
community, if it is to be called Christian, cannot extricate itself from the common bond of faith "O Comforter of priceless worth,
grant one mind to your flock on earth.
Support us in our final strife,
and lead us out of death to life."
-From "Erhalt uns, bei deinem Wort" "There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else."
-C.S. Lewis in "The Problem of Pain" Solutions?
integrating a life-style of balance
spiritual disciplines
awareness, accountability, and addition
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