The Degeneration of Facebook in 10 Statuses

Facebook's logo

Facebook started off as a true social media that focussed on keeping up-to-date with what friends are up to.  Over the last few years it’s changed dramatically, in ways summed up beautifully by The Degeneration of Facebook in 10 Statuses:

Gone are the kittens and puppies, they’ve been replaced by vomit inducing images of dogs being punched, roadkill, videos of children being punched on public transport, girls sucking on used tampons, kids stabbing their hands with knives, injuries, insults, masturbation and sexually suggestive selfies. It’s a place for generating hatred, inciting witch-hunts and scare mongering. What happened Facebook? We used to be friends.

Over the years users have also developed a distinct lack of personality. Statuses generally follow a pattern made up of ‘trendy’ words and before you know it, everyone’s coming out with the same old stuff. It’s all one big competition, it’s theHunger Games of photographs and hyperbole and the modern day equivalent of gossiping over the garden fence and keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashiwotnots. Here are a few of the statuses responsible for the degeneration Facebook.

“Click ‘Like’ if…”

…You’ve lost someone to cancer, you want to find a cure for cancer, you love your daughter, you love your kids, you enjoy breathing, you like clicking like etc. Stop clicking like and fill a bag with old clothes and take it to a charity shop, give money to cancer research, tell your kids you love them to their face. Save the tip of your index finger and do something that will actually make a real difference.

“Anyone know the number for the Doctor’s Surgery?”
“Anyone know the number for 999?”

If you can update your status, you can search for a telephone number. The above are desperate, attention seeking posts and require nothing more than the obligatory “Why what’s up hun?” or “Hope everything’s okay hunnii” or “I’m here if you need me hon” or… oh I can’t be bothered but I know you know what I mean.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish Rihanna a happy 3rd birthday. Congratulations sweetie we are so proud of you. Love from Mum, Dad, Kev, Nana, Grandpa and Carol next door x”

Can baby Rihanna read? Does she have a Facebook account? “I’d like to take this opportunity”? Have you really been so busy that this is the only chance you’ve had to wish your daughter a happy birthday is through a Facebook account she can’t read and has no access to?

See also: “Shakira, we have just been to your school open evening and your teacher said that you are the best in the whole school at absolutely everything. We are so proud of you. Love from Mum, Dad, Kev, Nana, Grandpa and Carol next door x”

Oh, stop showing off!

“Well Nana, it’s been 7 years today since you died…”

Nana didn’t use Facebook when she was alive so the chance of her being able to read this when she’s been dead for seven years are pretty slim.

“#Bored.com”

For starters, why do people use hashtag on Facebook? It’s completely superfluous and then there is nothing more boring than someone who is bored and nothing more criminal than sticking a .com after a word to describe your feelings.

“Rate me”

This is the dangerous one. Mainly because it encourages users to post pictures of themselves in their new clothes or hardly any clothes and then asks friends to rate the pictures and their figures. The problem here is users are appealing to their “friends” if you look awful they’re not going to tell you because they’re your friend and they don’t want to upset you. So no matter how hideous you look, people will click “LIKE” and they will comment with things like “Beautiful Hunniiiiii”.

Blatant vanity and a desperate appeal for compliments seems to carry absolutely no shame whatsoever and adding “I hate this picture” to the posted image won’t fool anyone. If you genuinely hated it, you would press delete. Well done Facebook, you’ve created a monster, and a bloody ugly one to boot!

Check out the article for the other four statuses that have made Facebook a worse place to be

The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites

The NSPCC earlier this week launched a new research report into the experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites and the strategies they use to deal with things that upset them online.  Researchers conducted an online self completion survey in December 2012 of 1,024 11-16 year olds in the UK.

NSPCC Report Cover

Here’s some of the key findings:

  • Over one in four (28%) of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site have experienced something upsetting on it in the last year.
  • Of the children and young people who were upset, 11% were dealing with upsetting experiences on a daily basis.
  • The most reported issue experienced on social networking sites was trolling, experienced by 37% of children who had been upset.
  • Other issues experienced by children who had been upset included: pressure to look or act a certain way (14%), cyber stalking (12%), aggressive and violent language (18%), encouragement to hurt themselves (3%), receiving unwanted sexual messages (12%), and requests to send or respond to a sexual message (8%).
  • Over half of 11-16 year olds (58%) believed at least one of the people responsible for the behaviour which had upset or bothered them was either a complete stranger, someone they only knew online, or they did not know who it was at all.
  • Only 22% of the children who were upset talked with someone else face to face about the experience.

Download the full report from the NSPCC: The experiences of 11-16 year olds on social networking sites.

87% of American teenagers send text messages each month

We all know teenagers are glued to their mobile phones. New data from the Family Online Safety Institute shows which mobile activities are keeping them hooked.

Text messaging is the most popular activity, which 87% of teens have done in the past 30 days. More than 80% of teens also have also participated in mobile gaming, emailing and social networking.

Statista‘s chart shows how many teens engage in different mobile activities:

Digitial Life of Teens

Analysis of Wikipedia has shown that Jesus Is ‘The Most Significant Person Ever’

historical-jesus

Two computer scientists have completed an analysis of Wikipedia data, and found that Jesus Christ is the single “most significant figure in human history.”

To come up with their top 10 list of significant humans, the researchers looked at individuals who have impacted opinions and movements over time, according to entries in the online encyclopedia. Napoleon, Shakespeare, Muhammad and Abraham Lincoln rounded out the top five, followed by George Washington, Hitler, Alexander the Great and Thomas Jefferson.  The researchers said that the lack of women on the list was a result of gender inequality views throughout history.

One of the professors behind the algorithms told the Pacific Standard,

“We would call Jesus ‘The most significant person ever.’ With over 2 billion followers a full 2,000 years after his death, Jesus is an incredibly successful historical meme”

Toddler Buys Car While Playing with Dad’s Phone

Austin Healey Sprite

Don’t give your smartphone to anyone that you don’t trust with your money. Paul Stoute of Portland, Oregon found that out when his 2-year old daughter Sorella used the eBay app on his phone to purchase a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite:

“She decided to open the eBay app, and started clicking around and one thing led to another and we own a car,” he told KOIN 6 News, laughing.

Mom and Dad had an “initial panic,” he said. “‘What do we do? We can’t really afford it’ kind of thing.”

But they decided to keep it.

Paul plans to keep the car, restore it, and give it to Sorella for her 16th birthday or high school graduation, read here for more.

Digital Children: Q&A with Bishop Paul Butler

Q&A with Bishop Paul Butler at the Digital Children conference:

Why is it that most Vicars only receive 1 seminar on children’s ministry in 3 years of full-time training?  Wouldn’t disagree with you, keep arguing and don’t seem to get anywhere.  Heads of Theological colleges began to take it on board but changing the culture takes time.

In Australia people are licensed as a Children’s Minister or Youth Minister – everything rises and falls on leadership – why are we not empowering on this?  The last year or two of CYM has struggled to get its numbers in the Children’s Course and the number of churches that are employing a children’s specialist.  If All-Age becomes the sustainable model do the training colleges begin to slim down?

Churches seem to struggle to find the calibre of workers should we employ from abroad?  But the Border Agency would not welcome this.

Refreshing to have a Bishop who gets it – don’t take that for granted – for many a children’s worker issues of leadership are real.  How do we encourage leadership generally from sentiment and rhetoric to meaningful action?  Show me a budget and I will tell you what your focus, but let’s be honest in our accounting so that we include volunteer hours.  Honestly don’t know the answer which is one of the frustrations.  Chair the Joint Liaison Safeguarding Group between CofE and Methodists – one of the positives is that Bishops are now waking up to the seriousness of the situation and to the wider issue of where are headed with childhood.  One of the things might be to find different ways in – coming from another angle people are now willing to speak about The Good Childhood etc.  Alongside Safeguarding try Parenting and Grand-Parenting skills.

Youth worker seeking ordination thinks schools and community work has to stop – that you graduate from children’s and youth ministry to focus on the grown-up issues of weddings, funerals and more.  Part of that is about placing Ordinands with Vicars and Rectors who get it.  It is still depressing to hear that said especially given how we now say bring your business skills, or teacher skills or social work skills.  In some Dioceses the do a weekend to train Curates on Children’s and Youth ministry.

Parishes that are having the most significant success are those that are tackling the issues of poverty – for churches doing football etc., they were feeding children, building better homes and more.  We can ask for more children’s workers but it is about missiology and the child piece in that.  It is not rocket science to look at what works for the community, 8am service was to allow the workers to milk the cows, do the service and then go back to cook lunch whilst the Lord and Lady attend the 10.30am.

Half churches aren’t engaging in children’s and youth work – there is a sense of larger churches growing due to their churches – thereby leading no people to lead that work.  How do we solve this?  There are schemes to get a part-time worker; maybe it is okay for some churches to not have children’s work as some areas have a demographic where there are very few children and so should focus on the elderly etc., and partner with a local place for the few children; ecumenical partnerships will be increasingly important.

Sticky Faith talks about involvement in all areas of the church being key for faith development, but All-Age Worship is often the worse attended, committed to it as a principle but how do we shake that image.  The only way is to shake it up by having an all-age group to plan the all-age worship to think how the different ages etc. work as too often it is child worship not all-age.

We are still focussed on aspirations – children and young people who go to university – half don’t so how do we connect with them?  So much is connected to those who go off to university, and we have to go back to Rakes with the Sunday School movement and the Ragged Schools – what is the equivalent for us – Glee Club and where we can raise aspirations.

Greatest cricketer in Viv Richards asking a guy in his congregation who was a poor county cricketer to improve him.  How?  He watched and spotted and commented it and left it to Viv to make the changes.

Digital Children: Bishop Paul Butler

Bishop Paul Butler led the next session at the Digital Children conference:

Children in attendance at church has been in decline although in 2011 Baptist numbers were up and the CofE numbers were just about steady

Sales of Sunday School materials are in decline, wider materials such as Bible reading notes etc. are also in decline.

Half of all churches have little or no contact with children, and more than half have little or no contact with young people.

Schools

Our engagement with schools is stronger than it has been for a number of years, and the opportunity is there.  We all know it can vary from Head teacher to Head teacher, but the options are there, especially if we are creative.  Why is Open the Book so successful?  It says you don’t need to be young, it is dramatic, it is creative, people enjoy it, and it tells the Bible stories very faithfully.  Too many churches still think engagement with schools is taking assemblies even though they haven’t been called that for a long time – it is running gardening clubs, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs.

Messy Church

Lots of research but no one knows why it works.  It is the willingness to explore the questions as to what it looks like – what do the sacraments look like in Messy Church, how does it change from a monthly event to a lifestyle – trying things out some of which work and some of which don’t.  Whilst in Walthamstow, was told by a Superintendent from the police the problem is that we have to know it works before we will try it.  Messy Church will continue to grow and variants will develop, e.g. Godly Play in prisons and Alzheimer’s work.

Toddler and Carer Groups

They continue to flourish at extraordinary rates – very quickly parents are asking for wisdom on how to parent and bringing children up spiritually.

Church Clubs

Still a huge role for places where children can enjoy, run around, be free to explore.  But we need to explore BGT and XFactor which is dance, drama and comedy – why aren’t we doing more Glee Clubs etc.

Sport culture

150 years of football which local churches started.  Southall is a town of 7,000 inhabitants, on Sunday morning there are 500 young people in the local football club.  Why are churches not freeing adults to go and be at Southall Town FC – don’t set up your own clubs.

Mentoring

Single parent families seeing so many young people growing up with no male role model, where does the church fit in with mentoring.

Residentials

We need to grow these further, interesting conversations from schools visits with senior staff about how they matter to the life of schools and how funding limits could cause problems.  We need to help churches grow their residentials, also including families.

Church Worship

Churches will move to all-age as the norm, what Mary Hawes does in Teddington with 25 minute services is going to be important.  Sustaining Sunday groups as they are in the current format is near impossible.  We may even see the beginning of Sunday afternoon school again as seen in the development of the Messy Church timings.

Poverty

In 2011 Paul’s diocese was the fastest growing, one common feature is they engage with the local community for the sake of the community not for bringing people into the church.  We need to work alongside Sure Start, social workers, schools etc., as the poverty issue is going to be the one that will run as there is a growth in child poverty, even the government are admitting that 250k extra children will fall into child poverty due to Welfare Reforms.

Get the Story Out

We have to get the story of Jesus out into people’s lives.  We have to use digital resources but look at low tech not high tech in the sense of YouTube, Facebook, Gavin Tyte’s beatboxing – not technically brilliant, mass market and massively possible.  We want some people who are brilliant at high tech but we have to get the message out.  This doesn’t just apply to children’s and youth work – it is the whole work of the church.

Which are the stories that will connect?  Paula Goodyer and Paul Butler are working on a book for 2014 taking a dozen bible stories with Bible scholar and passionate children’s worker reflecting together on the stories.  There is the whole of the Bible not just the favourite bits which are often mis-represented in the way they are told and dumbed down.

Don’t give up on evangelism with children – who knows what we might be sowing for the long-term.

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Digital Children: From Clay Tablets to iPads

Dave Roberts  carried on the Digital Children conference with Clay Tablets to iPads:

Watching a programme about impressionist paintings was like watching paint dry, but was surprised and became hooked to the four programmes in the series.  The presenter spoke about howthe artists wanted to paint the ordinary things.

They were aided by several things

  • Tube technology for storing paint came into being
  • Someone invented an easel that you could fold up and take with you
  • The railways were invented so people could travel to do the Normandy scenes
  • The brushes changed allowing the daubing to take place.

What is the core of who we are?  God the Father, Jesus the Son, work and nature of the Holy Spirit.  But John 1 with the word becoming flesh is pivotal.  Words capture faith – who we are and what we believe.

  • How has culture dealt with words, how have Christians dealt with words?
  • Are we early adopters of technology with words.

Clay Tablets

Or tablets of stone, the 10 Commandments were handed down on tablets and still guide us now.  Lots of storytelling was done in hieroglyphics and picture form on clay tablets – much of which we morally wouldn’t agree with; recorded debt – each bit scratched off and then the tablet is broken when the debt is paid is a legitimate purpose but often turned out to be illegitimate; literacy related to the devout who formed schools for children to learn – honey on lips – honey on the tablets for the letters which they picked out with hteir fingers.

Scrolls

The medium for the scene was Jesus picking up a scroll and reading Isaiah saying this is what he had come to do.  This suggests Jesus had literacy skills.  The children were taught to read so they could read the scrolls – but in reality they were asked to memorise the first five books of the Bible.  The oral tradition was very strong – some countries the Christians learn scripture by memory in case they have their Bibles taken off them by persecuting governments.

Paul writes epistles on the scrolls and uses them to help believers.

Mass Teaching Needs

The reformation was important as it allowed dissent from one theological view – John Wesley was key for this and was influenced by Zinserzolf.  But Zinserzolf was in rebellion against monastic scholasticism, and wanted ordinary people to meet in homes and begin to understand the Bible.  Out of this comes a push for mass literacy.  In pietistic communities they start to educate the girls as well as the boys.  In general literature we see references to blackboards enabling teachers to communicate on a highly visible surface.

The move to mass literacy needs equipment

Then something happened coming from Wesley based around the Clapham Sect who said they would help Wilberforce to abolish slavery, then led to the formation of the NSPCC and the RSPCA, the Religious Tract Society and the Bible Society.  We saw a tension between the Bible, Pilgrims Progress etc., against books on the Occult, witch craft.  All of the big publishers came from Christian movements, e.g. Harper Collins, Hodder & Stoughton, Mills & Boons.

Mass literacy through organisations such as the London City Mission breaks the hegemony of a particular view point bringing democracy and equality.  This needs tools – clay was discovered to develop pencils.

Tell me a story

Mass literacy is an important aspect in the story telling.  Telling the story through pictures came through television and flannelgraph.

There must be an alternative

The CUBE project of the 1950s was The Eagle, started by a Anglican Vicar who believed children’s minds were being poisoned by comics and felt that the church had an inadequate response.   The first print run had 900,000 with Dan Dare being a manly vicar or parson.  The back page had a story linked to the Apostle Paul.

Tell me the story with moving pictures

Christians got involved in moving pictures telling great stories with good skills, leading to Veggietales in the Charts and films in the Cinema.

Conclusion

The Word is the Word is the Word.  Sometimes used for desperately hurtful purposes but equally for building up.  We’ve been in the business of using technology from forever.  Taking information away from elite groups and onto the wider population.

Digital Children: Learning Spaces

Allen Reesor on Learning Spaces at the Digital Children conference:

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that we need to become little children but we don’t know who is the child.

Who is a child?  Are we becoming like little children?

Who learns from whom?  As adults we are not the experts, we come knowing that we don’t know.  If you already know everything you need to know you don’t need to do the research!  Children strive to know about God, to understand more about God, and they mistakenly believe adults know more.  Are we learning from them or are we trying to teach them?

Children learn differently

  • Want to access not memorise information.  They don’t bother with memorisation, they bother with access.  Are we giving them the access and avenues they want.
  • They want access to experience not facts.  The Bible doesn’t come at you as a theology text, but as a bunch of people’s experiences.

Children have a new set of values

  • They are creative not rigid – it is why they play the same level of the same game several times.  We have multiple learning styles.
  • They do not like it when the church is perceived as judging rather than accepting and loving.
  • Interested in relationship not position – don’t care on title but on whether the other person is interested in a relationship with them.
  • Children’s engagement related to change
  • What changes are significant
  • It is not about simply entertaining.  Sometimes when you encounter God you’re not always entertained, sometimes meet him in silence, sometimes challenged and browbeaten etc.

Learning Spaces: Messy Research

  • Create a Research Hypothesis
  • Roundtable discussions with theoreticians and practitioners
  • In UK and USA
  • Formulate a theory for testing

Test with qualitative research

  • Focus groups with children (aged 8-11 years old), parents, and practitioners of spiritual formation.

Initial findings

  • Indicators of Spiritual Vitality
  • 3 possible domains shown in the USA and UK: God, myself and others.

Theory of Spiritual Vitality

  • Interdependence of domains
  • What comes first?

Can we quantify pre-teen Spiritual Vitality?

If we were to measure Jesus on this scale we would have three completely over layed circles – completely perfect spiritually.  But on the negative side we would have three circles completely unrelated.

“It is not so much that it is a question of spiritual development but the development of the battle for spiritual vitality.”

Next Steps

  • Define sub-factors
  • Research review – how do other sciences quantifying such factors?
  • Create a prototype based on best practices.
  • Validate assessment results – need to test with children that the model is right.  Children have deep awareness of their spiritual life.

Digital Children: Children meeting God – in the digital realm

Maggie Barfield spoke on Children meeting God – in the digital realm

“… people with a story to tell are finding: that to tell it, they need not only to entertain their audience, but to involve them, invite them in, let them immerse themselves.”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

We have the stickiest story so we need to involve, invite, and immerse them.

CUBE: Working together with the American Bible Society to help 8-11s grow in their faith online.

Doing it because of the Great Commission.  Christians have done this for 2,000 years.

Most children aged 8-11s spend 2 hours online a day so if we’re going to fulfil the Great Commission we need to go online and speak their language.  Instead of telling them what to do we ask them “what should you be doing?”  “What should we be doing to help children meet God through the Bible and prayer?”

Looked at all the areas of child development, in faith and spirituality, ways of handling the Bible, where education and learning styles is going, technology developments – tablets didn’t exist when initial project started, safety and child protection.  Digital delivery quite quickly came

Marc Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, 2001: “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors … are ‘native speakers’ of the language.

“Digital natives …”

  • Used to receiving information really fast
  • Like to parallel process and multi-task
  • Prefer their graphics before their text
  • Prefer random access (like hypertext) – finding things on Wikipedia that are irrelevant
  • Function best when networked
  • Thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards
  • Prefer games to “serious work”.

“a new type of narrative is emerging – one that’s told through many media at once in a way that is nonlinear, that’s participatory and often game-like, and that’s designed above all to be immersive.  This is “deep media”: stories that are not just entertaining, but immersive taking you deeper …”  The Art of Immersion, Frank Rose (editor of The Wired), Norton 2011

Justin Barrett from Fuller Theological Seminary says:

“Children learn things that their minds are tuned to learn more readily than things that go against that natural tuning … children’s minds are not a level playing field.  They are tilted in the direction of belief.”

Faith can be …

  • Shaped by teaching
  • Enhanced through response
  • Grown in community

This is all works when we live in a digital age.

Product definition

Our solution is to pursue a site that is child-focussed including gaming, entertaining and information.

“This stage of development has been called by some “the age of the young scientist” in that it is a time when things are either right or wrong.  It is also a period of considerable spiritual awareness.”  Howard Worsley, A Child Sees God

Everything we are aiming to do through CUBE can be done through a Virtual World, innovations that game writers are surprised by, finding new ways to tell and explore Bible stories with a genuine response in the online environment.  Doing some new work on the metrics and indicators of faith.

Matters Arising

  • How do you “reward” activity in a digital world – it’s normally for shooting or killing something!
  • Avoiding the anticlimax – revolutionary fun and then the Bible story – interesting and challenging.
  • Grace – how do you share this concept of God’s grace against the
  • Moving between game and beyond-game – and back.
  • Balance between fun and purpose.
  • Who am I?  Is it real or not?

Are we nearly there yet?

Done a lot of research and thinking.  Ready to press the button, but there isn’t much to show.  Want to have something available to the public in January 2014 to build an audience, and next April launch fully, scaling up the site from then on.

www.projectcube.org

www.facebook.com/ProjectCube