How know-how can help – and hinder – our particular person religious journeys
By Ben Backstrom | SpokaneFāVS
Till just lately, I labored as a software program engineer for a corporation whose objective was to supply digital supplies to help with Bible research. As somebody who participates in a selected religion custom and who finds magnificence in different traditions, I discover the intersection of religion and know-how notably fascinating. Know-how will help us information our personal religious journey. Nevertheless, it may additionally manipulate our conduct in a course fully reverse of the values we are attempting to realize.
As a buyer assist technician and software program developer at my earlier employer, I noticed a number of methods during which know-how could possibly be a useful device for people on their religion journey. There are various examples, however probably the most fascinating ones to me are these the place an individual chooses to choose in to utilizing a device that helps them accomplish one thing of their life that they want. Know-how on this case permits the consumer to get one thing that they need with full consent.
Digital media enable for extra handy and generally cheaper entry to books and assets normally. The impact is much like that of the printing press in Europe within the fifteenth century. Book downloads require no transport and are sometimes considerably cheaper than new variations of printed books. Thus, know-how offers elevated entry to assets associated to religious traditions. I’ve heard private accounts of people in poverty having the ability to entry books and devotionals on-line or by way of obtain that they by no means would’ve been capable of afford earlier than. At my earlier employer, prospects typically wrote in to thank us for offering a technique to learn a Bible after they wouldn’t have had a paper copy, resembling at a dying mum or dad’s bedside or within the mission discipline the place they needed to stroll lengthy distances and couldn’t pack any books. There are examples exterior of my very own expertise, together with Bible.is, which is making low-cost digital audio gadgets out there to supply audio Bibles to overseas veterans.
Know-how actually has the power to distract us and harm our focus. Nevertheless, it may additionally information our focus in the direction of the values we want. Cellular app notifications have the potential to permit an individual of religion to bypass their busy schedules and forgetfulness to proceed their journey in a number of methods. Utilizing them in our software program, reminders for verse of the day readings nudged prospects to learn their Bible when in any other case they might have forgotten. Equally, prayer and meditation notifications remind individuals of religion to hope or meditate at sure instances of the day and make it extra handy with supplies connected to the notification. The result’s that know-how is giving individuals extra management of their religious journey after they select to make use of it.
In my position, I noticed how highly effective cellular apps could possibly be for aiding people of their religious journey. Options of apps enable individuals of religion to hold out practices extra simply. Meditation apps, like Headspace, allow an individual to hold out a guided meditation from anyplace at any time with out reserving an appointment with a practitioner. Bible research instruments in my employer’s app enhanced the expertise of studying and learning the Bible in a number of methods as properly. This included a associated content material part, note-taking talents and instruments for linking unique language phrases with entities in your personal language.
In case you ask somebody what particular person adjustments they need to make on their religious journey, you’ll typically hear individuals embody values of affection, compassion, empathy, non-harm and non-violence, relying on their custom’s values.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen a pattern, primarily in social media and weblog feedback, that’s disturbing. I typically see these similar individuals posting hateful and offended feedback about others on social media and weblog feedback, typically from different religion traditions.
I’ve witnessed offended and hateful feedback towards Catholics from individuals in my very own custom, in addition to different traditions.
I’ve seen repeated hateful speech towards Muslims who dwell within the U.S., typically coinciding with their immigration standing.
I’ve seen faux information studies, resembling one which Facebook banned Christian content, get frequent circulation… on Fb.
I’ve seen constant apathy from some people in the direction of the trouble to unravel monetary and social gaps between races and ethnicities. On the similar time, these people put substantial effort into defending that apathy.
I’ve skilled temptation myself to publish or remark out of worry and anger, as a substitute of empathy and compassion, many instances and haven’t all the time resisted the will to press that ship button.
In the end, plainly these platforms are tricking individuals into taking actions that contradict the values that they maintain dearest. Corporations are sometimes incentivized to maintain customers engaged with their content material with no regard to the unfavourable results this has on an individual’s psyche or religious journey. It’s a lot simpler to maintain individuals engaged by inducing a state of panic and worry than by pushing content material that promotes empathy and acceptance.
This challenge has all the time been an issue in journalism and media, however strategies of undertaking this have grow to be way more superior lately. Machine studying has allowed software program builders to create fashions that optimize engagement by way of selecting which advertisements and posts to serve a consumer. These fashions have gotten difficult sufficient that the software program builders who construct the fashions typically don’t notice the implications of what they’re constructing. Particularly, they might not notice that the fashions promote content material that induces a fearful or divisive frame of mind. However even when this isn’t the case, there isn’t adequate incentive to vary the established order.
How can we deal with these developments? Many individuals have higher concepts than I do, however I maintain out hope that options based mostly on transparency can reverse a few of these developments.
We have to ask corporations for accountability in how they’re presenting their digital content material to customers. When there is a chance for manipulation as a substitute of steering, we should always require a practical definition of the connection between consumer and firm to be made public in plain phrases. Which means corporations want to speak their choice standards for what content material they present us, together with the methods this might skew in the direction of a selected viewpoint or in the direction of divisive content material.
We additionally want elevated digital literacy by way of formal schooling. Digital media literacy as a standardized highschool class would put together college students for the barrage of knowledge that they’ll encounter, a lot of which consists of pretend information and biased protection.
As our society develops an consciousness of those points, I imagine we’ll begin to have interaction social media with our true values of compassion and empathy as a substitute of hate and worry. In the end, that’s the one means we are able to preserve ourselves united within the face of the fixed change introduced by know-how.