Web 2.0 | It’s All About the Sacred | Festival and Carnival
I guess sometimes you can’t see the woods for the trees. I recently posted a piece about René Girard’s thoughts on the essentiality of the sacred to human experience – something Dawkins et al ignore in their anti-religion positions – and I also posted something on Facebook and friendship.
But it took a beer with Nic – as so often it does – for the obvious connection to jump out: all social networking sites are simply virtual ways of touching the sacred.
In the Girard piece, Roger Scruton defines the sacred as “moments that stand outside time, in which the loneliness and anxiety of the human individual is confronted and overcome, through immersion in the group”
There can be no better definition of why Web 2.0 / Social Networking has taken off: we are all desperately raising antennae, trying to channel from the web these moments of immersion, moments when someone wants to link to us, wants to comment on our thoughts, wants to tag us, accepts us in their group.
My skepticism about the extent to which these moments actually can occur on the web thus highlight a further problem, and a further opportunity. The historic ways in which people have accessed the sacred have been eroded: community, church, neighbours – even conscription – and yet the virtual substitutes of MySpace, Facebook etc., are proving inadequate. Easy as it may be to whip up a network of hundreds of friends and connections, the actual sacred moment is still elusive.
This is the problem. And the opportunity is clearly this: we need to be providing these sacred spaces, and if we do so in an unthreatening way, people will flock there. Which they already do: check out the huge surge in popularity of festivals recently. Connected to the rise in virtual living, and the demise of the traditionally sacred? I’d say definitely. We all need a little carnival to feel connected. Which is why I’ll be off to Greenbelt again at the end of the month.