by Dr. Karen Oliveto, Pastor
It’s the time of year I start spending a lot of time in dark theaters, trying to see all the Oscar nominated movies before the Academy Awards show is televised. This is a difficult task for a couple of reasons: 1) I don’t like the high price of movie-going, so I try to go to the pre-6pm matinee showings; 2) But if it’s sunny out, I hate to be inside.
This year is particularly difficult, because there are TEN best picture-nominated movies. Ten! I already preached a sermon on “The King’s Speech”, so today I am reflecting on “The Social Network”, which is about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook.
It is a dramatic retelling of how this social media mega-giant got its start one drunken night as Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg takes out his anger towards his girlfriend by making a site which displays two female students at a time and allows users to rate which is more attractive. From this beginning, the story reveals double crossings, dubious deals, and backstabbing. Perhaps most damning is how Zuckerberg is displayed: a genius with not an iota of social skills.
Of course, it generated a lot of talk on Facebook itself. As if suddenly realizing the site was rancid, some FB users turned up their nose in disgust as they left the social networking site. Others questioned whether they should stay on it. What intrigues me most of all, however, is how a social miscreant (as Zuckerberg was depicted in the movie) was able to create a new and robust form of community. Family members who live far away from each other, forgotten friends, long lost high school buddies—people can reconnect and glimpse into each other’s day to day lives. FB has become our social diary, our birthday reminder calendar, and our source for recommendations for everything from movies to plumbers.
For me, Facebook has a deeply spiritual dimension. Every time I scroll through my friends’ names, it becomes my prayer list. I have wept upon hearing the death of an old friend, and whooped it up as I watched the Giants win the World Series, sharing play by play commentaries with friends through status updates.
Zuckerberg, for all his (real or fictionalized) flaws, has given us a tool for community in the 21st century. In an age of disconnection and dislocation, Facebook is the new village square, where we renew the bonds of friendship and learn the news of our family, friends, community, and world.
Speaking of which, have you joined the GLIDE Facebook page?