Coming of age on Facebook

Chris in a comment on Network Selves pointed to a post by Kester Brewin ‘You Will No Longer Be Called…’ | Facebook, Identity and Rebirth (the post riffs off an interview in the  Wall Street Journal with Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt).

Let’s take it for granted most people do stupid things when they are young. Some of us did not stop when we “came of age”, but most of us hope that we do such things less as we get older. In the past, in a predigital age, such actions were largely forgotten or selectively buried. Indeed the mobility of the “modern” world magnified this tendency. I remember Barbara remarking when we came to NZ how strange it was to be somewhere where no one knew anything much about our pasts except what WE chose to tell them.

In a digital society all that changes. Those silly pictures and status updates you post on Facebook today may still be available in 10, 20, 30… years. But wait, has “everything” changed? Step back, beyond the “modern” to a premodern village, or city. Doubtless in First Century Judea there were people who remembered Yakob as a teenager, and quite probably he too did some stupid things, yet Jesus’ younger brother became a respected leader in the early Jerusalem Christian community. Had everyone forgotten? Or had they, as we always do in “real” life developed selective fictive amnesia, by this I mean that people in relationship choose to act as if we have forgotten. It is a basic part of life. The memories are not really wiped, but most of the time (except for school reunions, family parties and such occasions) we act as if they were.

Perhaps in the Facebook age such selective fictive amnesia will need to become more widespread, as we learn to apply the same curtosies to strangers as we do commonly to friends and family… surely of all people Christians, who proclaim that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ can adapt to such a global village?