Both the first week and the third week of the exercises focus us on the reality of disorder in the world – in our own lives (in the first week) and the disorder and violence that leads to Christ Passion and death in the third week. The horrific flood of headlines at the moment about so much violence in the world, fuelled by land and religion. The suffering of the most vulnerable, the poor, women and children, remind us that to be in denial about sin in the world is irresponsible. What has changed though is the advent of social media – that as more and more of us live our lives on-line, we are leaving a record of our actions and experiences for good or ill. Andrew Keen , in his excellent book ‘Digital Vertigo’, claims that we are now living in an age of exhibitionism – and it seems that what we are exhibiting is not always good and noble.
The last couple of years I have been giving talks to students and teachers about the importance of cleaning up their ‘digital footprint’. A chaplain I worked with once, was very good at being a benign presence on social media. He would often log on – on a Sat morning and gently suggest that drunken photos might want to be deleted. I often remind students that when they apply for a job, their CV’s are less important to their employers than their facebook profile. I have heard countless stories of how prospective employers have binned piles of CV’s without even looking at them after exploring the candidates Digital Footprint.
Recently what has been shocking has been the use of ISIS of social media as a way of spreading fear. Videos and pictures posted on the internet – of grisly beheadings, summary executions are shockingly mainstream. It maybe one of the reasons that the Iraqi army crumbled so quickly whilst the ISIS forces advanced so rapidly. When these shocking videos started appearing on the internet during the Chechen War, it was pretty difficult to stumble upon them, now they appear on twitter feeds and facebook updates without warning. They should be taken down as soon as they can. And when these ‘tourist’ jihadists return home the evidence they have indicted themselves with should be used to convict them of war crimes. Interestingly this article argues that images on a Russian Soldiers Instagram account seem to offer evidence that could point towards Russian involvement of the Malayasian Airline tragedy.