Question on James Smith’s ‘Imagining the Kingdom’

A big point in James K.A. Smith’s ‘Imagining the Kingdom’ was the active role that the perceiving agent played in the constitution of the world – in Smith’s thought, man is far from being a mere ‘thinking substance’ or ‘rational animal’ at the mercy of sensory impressions and characterized primarily by ‘knowing’. Smith, however, later goes on to expound the nature and formative powers of social media in a way that really seems to undo the work he did by presenting man as an active animal. We seem to be entirely at the mercy of the formative powers of social media (Facebook, etc).

Smith argues for this by basically saying that products of human culture like Facebook encourage a certain way of acting by virtue of its built-in purpose (Smith doesn’t see things as merely neutral tools like many people would argue). There is a kind of narrative to Facebook, and to continually use Facebook (or any social media) is to be slowly shaped by that narrative. But I guess my question why are we completely passive in this process, when in every other aspect, we aren’t? Smith argues against conceptions of humanity that have us as passive receivers of sensory data – why have us as purely passive recipients of the formative powers of social media?

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