James K A Smith on the Formation of Social Media

‘So the very nature of social media encourages a certain social ontology; it comes primed with a social imagery, and to inhabit the Facebook world is to play by its rules. Over time, this becomes a formative exercise. In tangible but implicit ways, it inculates in us dispositions and inclinations that lean towards a configuration of the social world that revolves around me – even if we tell ourselves we’re interested in others. It is a classic example of a “pedagogy of insignificance” that exhorts the essential from the seemingly insignificant. While it purports to be simply a “medium”, it comes loaded with a Story about what matters, and who matters. And as we inhabit these virtual worlds – clicking our way around the environment, constantly updating our “status” and checking on others, fixated on our feed, documenting our “likes” for others to see – we are slowly and covertly incorporated into a body politic with its own vision of human flourishing: shallow connections for instant self-gratification and self-congratulation. And all of this happens precisely because we don’t think about it.’ (James K. A. Smith, ‘Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works’, p. 148)

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