Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Digital Technology, Faith & Religion

Digital Gated Communities?

A week or two back I was talking with a colleague about the difference between between Facebook and blogs, and in particular how my use of those media intersects with different communities. My Facebook posts are restricted to a group of people I’ve selected, whereas my blog posts are more public. I select who’s in my Facebook community (and they get the blog posts too), but I’ve made more friends and contacts from the blog. I think in the conversation I used the term ‘gated community‘ to describe how I saw Facebook.

I mentioned the idea in passing, but this posting picks it up and deals with it in much more detail. Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives: Is Facebook a Gated Community?: An Interview With S. Craig Watkins (Part Two)

I began reading some of the research on the rise of gated communities in America and found some interesting parallels in the language used by residents living in physical world gated communities and young white collegians who preferred Facebook (a kind of virtual gated community) over MySpace. They both use words like “safe,” “clean,” “private,” and “neat” to describe attachment to their communities. They both practice what cultural anthropologists call “gating,” that is, the tendency to build physical/virtual, social, and cultural walls that are exclusive.

One of the things I see communities like churches doing is creating more Facebook-type communities. Perhaps they like the “safe,” “clean,” “private,” and “neat” aspects of that, of the control over who can participate. Wondering if a modern day parable about the Kingdom of God might be better seen as a blog or MySpace page.

1 Comment

  1. I made a similar observations something over a year back; also making a comparison with shopping malls (contrasted with streets).
    http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2007/08/facebook-time-for-open-social-networks.html
    http://nouslife.blogspot.com/2007/11/facebook-tried-it-didnt-like-it.html

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