Once more on anonymous blogging

Our discussion of NT Wright’s comments on anonymous blogging came to mind as I was reading Graham Ward’s The Postmodern God.

Surfing the net is the ultimate postmodern experience … Time and space as conceived by empiricists collapse into omnipresence and multilocality. And the ride is continuous, for the electronic tide maintains you on the crest of impending satisfaction, far above any ocean floor, fast forwarding toward endless pleasures yet to be located and bookmarked. Time disappears, boredom is deflated. The drug of the ever new, instant access to a vast sea of endless desire which circulates globally; browsing through hours without commitment of any theme imaginable … Cyberspace is an undefined spatiality, like the contours of a perfume, and you are an adventurer, a navigator in uncharted waters, discovering the hero inside yourself. You act anonymously, simply the unnamed, unidentifiable viewpoint of so many interactive network games, and where an identity is needed, you can construct one (xv).

Has Ward got it right? Is cyberspace the “undefined spatiality” and we the “unnamed, unidentifiable” adventurers who construct identities of our own chosing only when required?

If so (I have not given this much thought before now), then perhaps anonymous blogging is symptomatic of a more basic issue: cyberspace and its allure of “omnipresence and multilocality”.  Is it an overreaction to say that what cyberspace offers (albeit an illusion) threatens to erode a properly Christian account of human embodiedness? Human creatures stand within the temporal frame and limited by finite bodies, and at least according to a Christian doctrine of creation, these limitations are God’s blessing, part and parcel of the world over which he said, “It is very good.”

My comments are spare, but they at least gesture in the direction of a Christian, theological account of cyberspace. I am sure work has been done in this area, but I have not come across it. Any suggestions?

NT Wright on anonymous blogging

Consider NT Wright’s rant on anonymous, nasty blogging:

It really is high time we developed a Christian ethic of blogging. Bad temper is bad temper even in the apparent privacy of your own hard drive, and harsh and unjust words, when released into the wild, rampage around and do real damage. And as for the practice of saying mean and untrue things while hiding behind a pseudonym – well if I get a letter like that it goes straight in the bin … I have a pastoral concern for such people. (And, for that matter, a pastoral concern for anyone who spends more than a few minutes a day taking part in blogsite discussions, especially when they all use code names: was it for this that the creator of God made human beings?) (Justification [2009], 27)

You could take his final remarks two ways: either we are not created to blog more than a few minutes per day, or we are not created to blog with a “code name” or pseudonym. I take it that he means the later, and I entirely agree.

To live as embodied human creatures is to “face” one another, to stand before another in all our limitation and potential. And I see no reason why blogging is any different.  Blog with your real name and put a picture with it. It reminds you that what you say in the blogosphere reflects on who you are; not the virtual you fashioned for the internet, but the embodied you with a face and a name.