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How the Internet Cultivates Expressive Individualism in Us
A new essay from me
I’m very happy to be able to share what I think is one of the most important, representative essays I’ve written. For the new edition of the 9Marks Journal, which is themed around expressive individualism, I contributed a piece specifically on what Christians should know about the effects of the Internet on our beliefs and practices.
Here’s an excerpt:
As Carl Trueman brilliantly lays out in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, expressive individualism has its origins in a complex collision of history, philosophy, and politics. Today, however, the most powerful vehicle for shaping people in its image is not the classroom or Supreme Court, but the Internet. To see this more clearly, we need to think of the Internet less as a singular tool or hobby, and more like what it is now: an immersive epistemological habitat in which hundreds of millions of people have regular, active membership. The Internet has transformed the way humans read, learn, communicate, labor, shop, recreate, and even “worship.” No other technology is as disruptive to traditional forms of human activity.
Membership in the online commons has formative effects on us, just like membership in a local church. The liturgies of assembled, embodied, gospel worship point us toward one set of beliefs and values, while the liturgies of Internet membership point us toward a different set.
You can read the whole essay here. I would love to hear your thoughts about it.