This is the last post in a series on our “screened” culture (brilliantly entitled “The Culture of Screens”). No need to go back and read the other posts, but I think they are helpful. Screens are a part of our hourly lives (at least for most readers of this blog), so it is worth thinking about how they affect the way we communicate with social media. We can treat screens like oracles, like portals, like stages.
And we can also treat screens as… well, “screens.”
A “screen” can refer to the almost magically pieced together contraption on which you are reading these words, a flat device illuminated by liquid crystal techno-craft (as far as I know). But a screen can also be a thin veil that hides or obscures.
We are all aware of the temptation to hide or obscure ourselves behind our computer screens. Our Facebook and Twitter profiles can be ever so carefully tweaked. The bio on our blog can be carefully crafted in the 3rd person, as if someone else was admiringly describing us. And there is a high degree of selectivity we use in determining what to Tweet or to enter in the “status update” field.
If we are not careful, we can screen ourselves with our screens.
The first use of screens in human history can be traced all the way back to Eden. The very first effect of sin for Adam and Eve is a type of self-recognition that immediately leads to the manufacturing of screens—they cover themselves with garments made from the foliage.
Secrets then entered the stage of inter-human relationships. Transparency and vulnerability were lost. Human conflict—divorce, child-parent battles, rioting, wars—have persisted ever since.
I am not saying that our computer screens can be traced back to the very first sin in the Fall Narrative. But the idea of screening ourselves from others most certainly does go back to that fateful scene. Computer screens are simply another way by which we can present ourselves but in a hidden, veiled fashion.
Computer screens can also be the mean by which we lay ourselves bare to others. Now hold on there… I mean this in a figurative sense! It can happen literally, of course. But my point here is that we can use our screens to share openly our trials and thoughts. To the extent that this is not exhibitionism or vanity, such a use of our screens can be redemptive in some sense, working against the pattern of veiling and hiding initiated at the Fall.
But sometimes we perpetuate that sin-induced pattern of hiding and obscuring ourselves by our use of screens. Are we self-presenting who we truly are, or misrepresenting and hiding behind the misrepresentation?