Pondering A Digital Afterlife

Have you ever received a Facebook notification reminding nudging you to wish Happy Birthday to a deceased friend? It’s an odd experience, almost as if the internet is nudging you to hang out with an old friend. It’s almost, because any interaction is strictly one way.

What if interaction could feel like its two way, and you almost feel like you could see the one you lost?

The below video tells the story of one guys experience playing a computer game against his dead Dads previous best, and at the same time, giving what could be the best reason to play computer games.

The voice over is pulled directly from a YouTube comment that was under a video called, “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience?” Could the above be described as a spiritual experience?

I sometimes wonder what technology would look like in 20 – 30 years time. If people can have experiences like the above with what would now be consider old technology, what does the future hold?

In fact, is (what we might consider) a future technology already happening?

I read a theory a few months ago, that you could argue that human beings are separated into two separate states. One is our physical bodies. The other is our identities, or our souls.

Most (if not all) religions have a concept of an afterlife. A place where the soul lives on, but what if our earthly identity could be captured?

Eternime is one example of a company with plans to help your digital identity live on. They plan to combine everything you put on social media, photos from smart phone, email, and so on – the aim being to create a digital version of yourself, that will be accessible after you die.

According to the BBC website:

“Depending on the facts it has collected, the avatar will be able to offer anything from basic biographical data to being an engaging conversational partner,” says Marius Ursache, Eternime’s founder.

It is set to launch next year, and according to Eternime, more than 37,000 people have already signed up for the service.

Its not just a service like Eternime where this is possible, there is also Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, I’m not going to be around for ever. Could there be some comfort in having a “digital dad” available online after I’m gone? But what if the service fails? Wouldn’t that be some sort of “second death”? In fact, at the time of writing this on The Church Sofa, the Eterni.me website is down with the error message: “The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.”

Doesn’t the idea of a “second death” sound creepy?

Does the whole thing sound a little creepy? People I’ve spoken to have commented on how weird it sounds. Is weird, because it sounds unnatural? And is it so unnatural, that we’re in danger of not just playing God, but going full blown Black Mirror? 

If this new Black Mirror future, is in fact now, how would this impact the church and its teaching? Particularly how we communicate about the afterlife? Somewhere between Heaven and Hell, is there a place for a digital limbo dependent on service contracts?

(A version of this post first appeared on The Dads Sofa)

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#Bible365 Taking a Swim

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10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

From Exodus 14.

Theres no way out.

They’re not trapped between a rock and a hard place, they’re trapped between an Army and the sea.

This is it.

The final chapter.

The Israelites are trapped, and they’re going to die. And what does Moses say?

Be Still.

In an always on digital world, do we ever really allow ourselves to Be Still?

Further Reading on The Big Bible Website

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The Crowd, Mistakes, and I #digidisciple

When I was younger, I came across a pastime known as “people watching”. Every now and then, a friend and I would find ourselves in the front of a coffee shop, and the two of us watched the outside world. We’d sit there, comment, and take it all in.

As I’ve grown up. I’ve realised that was stupid. Coffee shops are not where the action is found. For real people watching, go to a train station! Preferably a nice big train station. You get to see people who lost, confused, and sometimes saying good bye. But you also get to see people having laugh, relaxing, and being reunited with loved ones. Even if its just their luggage. This is where you really get to see people at their most emotional… People watching at its best…

The other Monday, I found myself upgrading from “People Watching” to “Manic Christmas Crowd Watching”. You see, I made two mistakes on that day:

  1. I thought that Christmas shopping on a week day would be easy.
  2. As I work in technical support, I looked for shelter from the Manic Christmas Crowd in a local computer store. I figured it would be quieter, that I could gaze at gadgets I couldn’t afford, as well as possibly get an idea of what some of our customers may be calling in about after Christmas.

I thought it would be a space to build my nerves up to take on the Christmas crowd again. As I burst into a space to breath, I became aware that I wasn’t in a quiet breathing space, but I was surrounded by yet another Manic Christmas Crowd.This crowd seemed different to the normal type.

This lot weren’t storming from one place to another. They looked a little slower, some looked a little lost, some fairly stressed. I heard people mutter about prices, how fast it goes, and if it was ADSL compatible. Yes I was in that section of the shop.

Various emotions and various needs, but be it on with new iPhone, router, or printer, the members of this particular manic crowd were all looking for new ways to connect with people. Part of me wonders if we’re all part of this crowd at times.

Looking back over the sight of that confused rugby scrum, part of me wonders:

  • Where does the Church fit in a world of people, looking for new and faster ways of connecting?
  • Do we concentrate so much on individual meetings, that we forget about connecting with people during their lives?
  • What do you think?

Above originally appeared on The Big Bible)

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Someone. Please Press Pause? #Digidisciple

In the palm of my hand, I have access to what feels like the entire world and possibly more. Just by using this little phone I can not only keep in touch with people around the world, but I can also send them photos I have just taken and edited.

But there’s more:

As I take my walk into work, I have more then enough time to update websites, blog on tumblr, and update Twitter. If I remember to read the Bible, I have access to a number of translations, maps, and images of biblical events… Besides, who said I needed to read it? I can just put the headphones in, and get listening to a random voice reading it to me.

I’ve not even got started on my ability to update my online CV, play computer games, remotely access my computer at home, and measure the distance / speed of my walk… all by using my phone.

Have I even mentioned anything about calling or texting?

With the above in mind, its easy to believe that every 60 seconds*:

  • 79,364 Wall Posts are made on Facebook.
  • Over 6,600 new images are uploaded on Flickr.
  • 694,445 queries are typed into Google.
  • 168 million emails are sent.

Its getting noisy out there.

Think about where we were 10, 15, 20 years ago. Did you ever really imagine we would have such fantastic access to a world of information, almost every where we go. The thing is, its not just information we have access to. Not anymore. Ten years ago, could anyone have seriously imagined how much of our entire lives would be shared online?

With so much access to everything we think we need, do we sometimes forget to slow, turn of the computer, stop the music, and just be quiet? I know I do.

If we live our lives in a digital “always on” world, does it sometimes feel a little noisy?

Do you seek out quieter moments, away from online access? If so, how do you do it?

*Stats from go-gulf.com
This post was originally posted on the BigBible Website
 

Married. Dad.

Blogger / WordPress / Email List Guy.

Photographer.

Support worker. Short sentences. I write Bio in.