Andrew Brown: The discussion of religious differences online is not a game | Technology | The Guardian

Centrists / Religion / Web/Tech

Andrew Brown has written an extraordinarily helpful piece about the effect that online discourse is having on our common-life in the Church and in the State. He focuses on the effects the discourse is having on religious discussion but his points could just as easily be applied to the civil.

Brown describes the online behavior thusly:

“On the web the participants are often sober and they spare no pains to offend and insult one another, even when there is nothing at stake. I nearly wrote ‘nothing but prestige’ but prestige in whose eyes? Who is watching? The strange, weightless intimacy of online communication has enabled complete strangers to hate each other passionately within minutes. This has had measurable effects in the real world. In the US, for instance, the breakup of the Anglican Communion has already resulted in some huge and juicy lawsuits and will certainly result in many more as conservative parishes try to remove their churches from the liberal central body. The schism could never have happened without the internet, which allowed each side to see exactly what the other was up to, and then deliberately to misunderstand it.”

Read the full article here.

And we being fallen, lather, rinse, and repeat until madness ensues.

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. It’s all too true. I’m so tired of the whole thing now; every time these days that I make a comment in relation to the “religion” thing online, a big fight ensues. (Well, almost every time, anyway.) I have to discipline myself not to post these days – and I fail at that about half the time, too.
    I really don’t think this was the idea.

  2. Re: commenting on religion online and a big fight follows…
    When I talk with print and professional journalists, this is part of the reason that newspapers and TV stations are uncomfortable covering religious stories. It’s not that they don’t think they’re important. It’s that every time they do, they are inundated with complaints. So they’ve become gun-shy.

  3. Matt H. says

    I’ve long believed that what the Anglican Communion needs is a moratorium on blogging and listservs.
    (Don’t take that personally, Fr. Nicholas.)

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