I just wanted to share an article I read online: Inhuman communication: Søren Kierkegaard versus the internet by Patrick Stokes.
Just the last paragraph:
Equally, the fact that we are human beings dealing with other human beings is essential for maintaining the integrity of communication if we’re going to use this disproportionate talking tube. Indeed, a great deal of the abuse we encounter online ― though by no means all or even a majority of it ― seems to be a function of just this sort of abstraction from interpersonal communication, losing sight of the face behind the avatar, so to speak. Kierkegaard knew what it was to be attacked from all sides. But he also knew how to take responsibility, and how to engage with his neighbour even amidst the tumult.
All of this is another example of levelling. And the internet is very much the abstraction that kills the individual. But Stokes points out that the internet can become very impersonal – forgetting that there are people behind the keyboard. Impersonal communication is not only reserved for the internet. I think we live in a world of impersonal communication and religious communities are not immune. A “personal relationship” cannot be separate from personal interaction – some large communities can become extremely impersonal.
I think the article has many things to ponder. I do not think we need to abandon the internet (and technology) and live in the woods like Ted Kaczynski. (Yes, I have watched the Unabomber series on Netflix’s.) I think the internet can be redeemed by me being me and by me allowing people to be people and not seeing them as another product. The internet can be extremely impersonal, yes, and it can make individuals just another object. But in the end, Kierkegaard challenges me in my behaviour – to not allow abstractions to rule people, not to make individuals into objects, into hits or downloads. Kierkegaard encourages me to see people as people: people with stories, with experiences, with feelings. And for me to be a person online and reflect on the way I interact with others.