Facebook’s church is ready to capture the human soul in silicon. July 25, The New York Times reported that since 2017, the social media giant has quietly cultivated exclusive partnerships with certain religious communities. As always, the money is involved.
While Facebook’s ultimate goals remain sealed behind nondisclosure agreements, the Times article hints at things to come: its platform, from hosting worship services and more laid-back socializing to the solicitation of money.
âPartnerships reveal how Big Tech and religion converge,â the Times continues. “Facebook is shaping the future of religious experience itself, as it has for political and social life.”
In other words, ultra-mod spiritual centers will be blessed with massive data mining, algorithmic polarization, and censorship of theological âdisinformationâ.
If Facebook’s story is any guide, every digital prayer will be picked up and turned into a data point. Live-broadcast preachers who deny the sanctity of LGBT lifestyles will be flagged and punished as “extremists.” Best of all, loyal smartphone addicts can donate their latest widow mite with just the push of a virtual button. Sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn’t it?
Register in the metaverse
Facebook’s Church is only part of a much larger vision. Three days before the Times article appeared, The Verge published a in-depth interview with founder Mark Zuckerberg on his ambition to ‘bring the metaverse to life’. The term refers to the evolution of 24/7 screen time into a distorted synthesis of physical reality, mixed reality, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
The metaverse was first invented by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 dystopian novel “Snow accident. “The author imagined the decadent virtual kingdom like an escape from a dismal society run by mega-corporations. Now that the Metaverse is funded by Silicon Valley oligarchs and Wall Street traders, we’re supposed to believe it’ll be a good place to live.
In his interview with Verge, Zuckerberg describes the Metaverse as an âInternet personifiedâ – âthe holy grail of social interactionsâ – where we can work, play and enjoy a âsense of presenceâ alongside teleportation holograms. He predicts that over the next five years – around the same time that Elon Musk hopes to achieve digital telepathy through brainchips – Facebook will “shift from people who see us primarily as a social media business to a metaverse business. “.
According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, this will also be a spiritual endeavor. âFaith-based organizations and social media naturally fit together because the two are fundamentally about connection,â she said. Recount time. “Our hope is that one day people will also organize religious services in virtual reality spaces, or use augmented reality as an educational tool to teach their children the history of their faith.”
Imagine a synagogue where a holographic burning bush recites the Decalogue, or a cathedral where holy icons speak directly to you, or perhaps animated deities waving their many arms in Hindu temples. Immersive idolatry is the future of false religion. With 3 billion users worldwide – and no sense of sacred boundaries – Facebook is poised to lead this spiritual revolution.
From New Atlantis to Techno-Occultism
It is true that with enough hyperbole everything can be described as a “religion”. People often say things like “Art is my religion” or “Nature is my religion”. Critics also use it to berate their opponents, perhaps accurately, saying “Science is their religion” or even “Video games are their religion”. But this is not hyperbole: technology has become a religion.
If you look at the personalities behind techno-fetishism, they often describe digital culture in spiritual terms. Smart devices produce all the miracles that religion promises, and at an affordable price. It’s a dream world with a long history.
In Francis Bacon’s unfinished 1626 novel “New Atlantis“, He describes a technocratic utopia with” houses-perspectives, where we make demonstrations of all the lights and radiations. … We procure the means [to] to represent things near as well as far; and things as far as they are near. The pioneering scientist warns of vivid mechanical âillusionsâ that could be presented as âmiraclesâ. From the 17the century, Bacon imagined holograms. In a sense, his new Atlantis has already arrived on your laptop screen.
Striking a dissonant note, in 1976 the first Apple computer for sale for $ 666.66. Despite Steve Wozniak’s hug insistence that it was just a fluke, the digital symbolism has a dark resonance in the Christian imagination. You don’t have to be superstitious to appreciate the mythical implications. When I visited the famous Apple Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, a large sticker on the front window read: âThree apples changed the world. The first tempted Eve, the second inspired Newton, and the third was offered to the world half-eaten by Steve Jobs.
Many observers are delighted with these hellish archetypes. In 1988, Timothy Leary published his classic essay “Digital Polytheism: Load and Run High-Tech Paganism. “The High Priest of LSD explicitly describes the personal computer in terms of ritual magic:” Today digital alchemists have at their disposal tools of a precision and power unimaginable by their predecessors.
âComputer screens ARE magical mirrors, presenting alternate realities in varying degrees of abstraction on command (invocation). Aleister Crowley defined magic as âthe art and science of bringing about change in accordance with our will,â Leary wrote.
It’s a curious fact that, like many techno-fetishists, Leary was as obsessed with Crowleyan âmagicâ as he was with psychedelics and cybernetics. In fact, his essay opens with Crowley’s catchy little text. ditty:
We don’t trust
On virgin or pigeon;
Our method is science,
Our goal is religion.
In the age of smartphones, even a ” sick “ The assistant can summon transportation, Sichuan noodles, or casual sex with just a few swipes on the touchscreen. But that’s just a cheap salon trick. Big Tech titans can observe our inner worlds as a whole, or each of us one by one. They can use this information to sell targeted ads, manipulate public consciousness, or influence national elections. It’s like magic, except it works (almost) every time.
Rebuild better with corporate religion
This mystical connection is not a secret conspiracy. For example, on Good Friday of 2020 – when religious communities were banned from meeting in person and forced to pray online – Microsoft launched a controversial ad for its HoloLens 2 mixed reality glasses. art titled “The lifeÂ»By Marina AbramoviÄ. It shows hipsters with glasses standing around a gallery of candles, looking self-satisfied. Suddenly the “Spirit cookingMaterializes the witch in a red dress.
âI believe that the art of the future is an art without objects,â says AbramoviÄ. âThere is always this great ideal of immortality. Once you die, the artwork will never die. â¦ Here I am kept forever.
The ad can be as tacky as it is spooky, but you don’t have to be a crazy dot-connector to see the deep symbolism. It is just an expression of an increasingly influential worldview.
By the way, Microsoft and Facebook are among the many partners of the XR Association who have joined forces to manifest the metaverse in our daily lives – from basic infrastructure to spirituality. Google, Sony and HTC are also leaders in the effort. âImmersive technology will play a vital role in America’s resolve to Rebuild better, The XRA website promises. âOver the next decade, the physical and digital worlds will merge on an unprecedented scale. “
As citizens bicker over vaccination mandates and debt ceilings, Big Tech is creating a parallel universe for a new breed of humans to inhabit. Right now, the âmagic mirrorsâ used to enter this world are touch screens in our palms. In the years to come, we will carry them on our fronts. Each of us will be free to sink into our own inconsequential reality, playing pretend under the shade of a homogenizing corporate umbrella. It will be heaven on earth.
Maybe you don’t buy this story, and that’s fine. Do not worry ! If Zuckerberg offers universal basic income is generous enough, the powers that be will only buy it for you.