WeeklyTech #159

The Value of Friendship in the Digital Age

Social media and technology companies make countless promises every day that seem too good to be true. These promises include staying connected with loved ones, forging and maintaining friendships across long distances, or even the possibility of finding true love online. So much of our social internet is dependent on these promises of deeper and richer community, even as these same platforms and devices tend to isolate us from one another and sew division in our communities. While these issues face us all, there is an entire generation growing up in this digital society without any memory of a time before these revolutionary social connections. All of this is contained in a sleek smartphone that fits in the palm of your hand and disciples you to think friendships are all about you and your needs.

One of the main ways we can learn to see through these lofty promises of the social internet and champion real life friendships in this digital age is to remember that those we interact with online are not simply avatars but are real life people just like you and me. It is easy to assume that a “friend,” “follower,” or “connection” online is synonymous with a true friend or companion. We all are tempted to buy into the lie that true community and real friendships can be formed at a distance through the medium of a small piece of glass and some emojis. We instinctively know this isn’t actually true but are often tempted to think prioritizing these online connections over flesh and blood relationships will give us the things we long for such as community, companionship, and fulfillment. Technology helps drive so much of the individualism and false notions of moral autonomy that plague our communities today.

The Rundown

The Rise of Right-Wing Wokeism by Kevin DeYoung | The Gospel Coalition

This is a long review, so let me state my conclusion up front: I understand and sympathize with the desire for something like Christian Nationalism, but if this book represents the best of that ism, then Christian Nationalism isn’t the answer the church or our nation needs. For all the fine retrieval work Wolfe does in parts of the book, the overall project must be rejected.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Misbegotten Look at “Commercial Surveillance” by Jim Harper | AEI

In law and policy, words matter. So in a recent comment on a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), Neil Chilson and I fixed on the selection of “commercial surveillance” as the object of the FTC’s interest. The phrase adds yet more confusion to an area of policy already susceptible to muddy thinking: privacy and data security. Back to the drawing board, we argue, and at the drawing board, the FTC should do several things differently.

The Ethics of Assisted Dying by Declan Garvey, Esther Eaton and Andrew Egger | The Dispatch

Michael Fraser—a fan of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a volunteer church handyman known as “Church Mike” around his Toronto neighborhood—died at the age of 55 this summer after his longtime doctor administered the lethal drugs Fraser had requested. His wife Ann hugged him and whispered “I love you, I love you, I love you,” as he died in his bed.

Word of the Year 2022 | Merriam Webster Dictionary

In this age of misinformation—of “fake news,” conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes—gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time. A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.” 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.

The Theological Foundations of Natural Science by Shao Kai Tseng | Christianity Today

In my university teaching experience, my Chinese students often tell me, “From the very start of our elementary school, we have been taught to ‘believe in science.’” This is accepted even in the West. Many people adopt a view shared by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, among others, that natural science can bring about “definite knowledge.”

An education into gambling addiction? by Nathan A. Finn | WORLD

Gambling on sports is nothing new. Two middle school boys bet their weekly allowance on who will win the big game. A weekend foursome places a friendly wager on who can hit the longest drive. Coworkers in the department have an office pool for the championship series.