How many Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin/Pinterest ‘friends’ have you got? Ok, now how many of your ‘friends’ are your real friends? And here’s the killer: how many of your ‘friends’ have you actually met?
The proportion of my ‘friends’ whom I have never met is pretty small, but they’re definitely there, and their existence on my ‘friends’ list raises some odd questions. Like the one asked in this article: Should one attend the funeral of a virtual friend?
A popular Christian blogger known as the Internet Monk died a while ago, and many of his regular readers were moved to express their sympathy, despite the fact that he’d met hardly any of them…yet he had still left a little space in their life in a similar way to that the writer of the article experienced.
Which begs the question: what does death actually mean? For the Internet Monk’s followers, his death meant that he would no longer write articles on his blog. For the author of the article, it meant he would never ‘meet’ him in an online chatroom again. But both of these outcomes would have been met if a virtual friend simply decided not to log onto the internet again…is there such a thing as virtual death?
I wonder if we’re in danger of reaching a stage where we can create online personas for ourselves which we like but can kill off whenever we want to. I could become a bully for a bit, just to see what it was like, then if that didn’t work out create a new personality and join a niche discussion board, until I found the one that brought me the most joy.
I could find my identity not in who I can try and become, but in someone whose personality is guaranteed to be eternal and perfect, and who will never die.
This is what the Bible means when it says that Christians are ‘in Christ’! We are not our own, for we were bought at a price; we have ‘put on Christ’ and are co-heirs with him. In Christ we are children of God. In Christ we have a perfect relationship with God. In Christ we are God’s ambassadors, bearing his name to this temporary fallen world.
That’s pretty fantastic.