"Genesis 2 reminds us that we are all created to connect on a personal level in significant community. Yet, being one virtual profile among a sea of millions creates a competitive atmosphere where successful individuals become intuitive experts at self-branding."
--Brad Howell, "Finding Love One Byte at a Time"
I haven't read this book, or anything else by Brad for that matter. But I think this quote says something about us. Something is deeply wrong.
What I have read is Viral by Leonard Sweet. As he puts it, "this book is a tale of two tribes." The tribes he identifies are Gutenbergers and Googlers. The Gutenbergers are those people who have been influenced and live in a world created by the invention of the printing press. Yes, that happened a long time ago, but the world of pre-Google was heavily influenced by this sudden spread of information.
Speaking of a spread of information, we'e living a new digital age where everything has indeed gone viral. This is the world of the Googler, a tribe that has embraced social networking in a way that seems foreign to older generations.
Sweet does a good job of explaining the upside of all this new technology, even for the Christian who might celebrate the Bible being the first printed book off the printing press. At points, it felt like he railed a bit too much against philosophers as being stuck in the Gutenberg tribe. (I may be sensitive as someone who majored in philosophy.) I believe he was trying to convey that our sharing of faith cannot reside in listing out answers to every question posed in this world. But philosophers have often been the poets that he did praise.
Along the way, he uses many new words, like 'complexipacity' and 'metaphor', words he uses to better define the culture we now live in. To put things in perspective, he quotes inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen as saying that "an eight year old today sees the internet with about as much fascination as you see the toilet."
In the end, Sweet is not arguing for Gutenbergers to simply 'suck it up' and accept the new realities. We do need to realize the world we are living in is constantly changing, and much like a missionary researches and adapts to the culture they live in, our effectiveness as a Church will require us to do the same.
I received Viral from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah. They send me books and ask me to say things. They don't tell me I have to be nice. That part just comes naturally. You can check out this book at their site.
You can check out Leonard Sweet at the following sites.