When filters and shares collide

Much of our cultural conflict right now seems to be the intersection between filtering and sharing.

In a hyper connected world we want to share everything. We share our thoughts and our actions and the opportunity for action.

Yet, with all this sharing, all of us can get overwhelmed. There are too many things, too many options, and too little time and too little attention. So each of us individually need ways to identify what is important—which leads to filters and algorithms.

However, what is important is a value proposition. I value things differently from you—perhaps a little differently, perhaps very differently. Thus, there are things which you think are important, that I think are less important.

Perhaps you want me to see the importance in things that you value. This sets us up for a clash: my filter, vs. your desire to share.

This can be made even worse when what you share is fine to you but I view it as taboo, inappropriate, or even temptation.

Algorithms try to solve this for us by silently filtering. They use my indication of likes and dislikes to try to help me. That means I won’t even see some of what you share. But now this is viewed with suspicion, as a form of censorship—either secretly by the algorithm or unfairly by me.

(And, of course, when advertising intervenes with my filters, our suspicions grow even more pronounced.)

This is one of the big challenges of a highly-connected, always-on, always-sharing society. What can we as Christians do about it? For myself, it’s to realize that not everyone will value the things I value. I have to take that in stride, and be charitable (“patient, kind, not haughty, not selfish, not rude, not demanding my own way”) with others, and trust that if I continue to share, those who share my values will share with others, and slowly those who resonate will be drawn.

I also have to remember: the conflict of filtering vs  sharing leads to self reinforcing echo chambers where those passionate about an idea positively reinforce but grow hostile to those who don’t share it. Filter/sharing walls can lead to hard boundaries of exclusion and pain. Cross-cultural mission is about reaching across boundaries, wherever they are.

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