In an article that examines the root cause of the problem with most of all of social media, but particularly about Facebook, Nichil Sonnad makes the following observation:
Arendt [the Israeli psychologist who analyzed Nazi Adolf Eichman] concludes that it was neither sadism nor hatred that drove Eichmann to commit these historic crimes. It was a failure to think about other people as people at all.
A “decisive” flaw in his character, writes Arendt, was his “inability ever to look at anything from the other fellow’s point of view.”
Sonnad argues that social media’s fundamental mistake is to focus on the network that connects us and not on the individual. It abstracts away the individual and makes the human being a fungible entity rather than a being of infinite moral importance. By making this computational move to solve a complex problem and increase connections between humans, the services diminish the role of the nodes and increases the role of the network. And that has a moral consequence if we follow Sonnad’s thinking.
To my thinking, the fundamental thing that the Parables of Jesus accomplish, is to allow the hearer insight into the emotional life of another person, the “other” in the stories. Having gained the insight, the hearer who “has ears to hear” is supposed to respond with compassion to the “other”, the stranger. Jesus invites us to change our thinking (literally “repent”) so that we can see the stranger as an individual who is at least as important, if not more so, than the community, the network, to whom the presence of the stranger seems to be a challenge.
Interesting to read this article today as the news is breaking that the Pope has declared that the Death Penalty is morally wrong in all instances. This is a strengthening of the Catholic doctrine of Human Life.
Let those who have ears to hear this, hear.