Social Media, Dehumanization, and First Words

September 5, 2013 - 10:12 AM

In a profound analysis of the inherent problems with “advance directives” and other such statements of how one wishes to be cared for at the end of life, Brother John Luth writes in an e-mail:

“In philosophy, we are taught that the first words are the most important in an argument. As Christians, we can see so readily how this applies to our theology and to our beliefs. For, in the Bible, we are first told that God is man’s creator, and in the same opening chapters that man is his brother’s keeper. Thus in God’s first words to man, God informs us of our need to [revere] what is greatest of all—the Creator of all created—and that we are to care for our brother, our equal, as ourselves; for, in a very real way, our brothers are, in fact, ourselves. And so, as part of God’s first law we are charged to keep our brother safe, protected, fed, clothed, cared for in every way. Our devotion to our brother’s life is to be treasured second only to our devotion to God Himself.”

While this is the obligation assigned to each of us by God, it is a task—a blessing really—that is frequently rebuked in our age of social media and the dehumanization of the individual person.

As an example, we need only look to this news report on the latest video game currently under development in the state of Texas. In the game “Choice: Texas,” players hunt for abortion access in Texas via the “choose-your-own-adventure” technique—and confront obstacles such as geography and health care. 

Gamers live vicariously through characters such as 35-year-old Latrice who, despite a long-time boyfriend, “has never planned to have children, and between her career and family obligations, she feels she has her hands full enough.” Another, 19-year-old Leah, bartends as she “save[s] up money and think[s] about what she would like to do.”  . . .

Besides teaching “awareness and empathy,” Kocurek and Whipple hope the game provides “a sex education tool for older high schoolers.” Whipple explained their intent in an interview, highlighting how “Many people, including privileged pro-choice people, do not realize the extent to which people with less privilege struggle with geography, time, and money to obtain abortions.”

Their IndieGoGo, which asked for donations, advertised the game in further detail:

The game “Choice: Texas” is an educational interactive fiction game which will be freely available on the web. Players will explore the game through one of several characters, each of whom reflects specific socioeconomic, geographic, and demographic factors impacting abortion access in Texas. Although billed as interactive fiction, Choice: Texas is based on extensive research into healthcare access, legal restrictions, geography, and demographics, and is reflective of the real circumstances facing women in the state. 

In other words, as feminist site Jezebel translated: “Sounds like a uniquely challenging game, and maybe something every anti-choice legislator should be forced to play.”            

Yeah, a thrill-a-minute experience. If you’re going to trivialize infanticide with a video game, shouldn’t it at least be fun?               

Is this how we are to heed God’s word to care for our brother’s life? Our society has made the killing of innocent preborn babies legal. Our children are taught that these “problems” are easily taken away with a simple act. Then, just to be sure they fully understand, we make a game of it. Murder is no game. And killing our brothers is not what the Lord had in mind when He told us to take care of each other.

When the choice is killing and the object is to desensitize the gamer as he or she perhaps subconsciously begins to see child killing as sport, those first words come back to haunt us. How low can you go?

Perhaps this is a suggestion of where we are headed as a culture—as a human race eerily close to being totally divorced from those profound first words.