I’ve read quite a few books with multiple worlds and characters that have identities in each of the different worlds. At certain times and places it’s possible for a character to cross over from one world to another. Sometimes movie franchises do a similar thing with the interconnection of worlds either by time travel or portals. Think of Back to the Future or The Wizard of Oz.
However, the existence of other worlds isn’t simply in the domain of books and movies, We experience shifts from one world to another in many ways – getting in and out of a lift, driving through the harbour tunnel, traveling in a plane, entering a shopping centre are all activities that introduce us to new worlds.
Agreed they are really just different locations within the same world. Yet the different surroundings, perhaps with different cultures, and climates lead us to speak of different worlds.
Every now and then I like to escape the real world for a time and immerse myself in the world of a fiction book or a movie. Whenever I do this I am typically a passive observer of the world being portrayed. Of course, when the last page is read or the credits roll, I pick myself out of the seat and go back to real life.
In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee created a new world. A world that became accessible to the public in 1991 and has grown exponentially ever since – he created the World Wide Web. It’s a place that is visited every day by just about everyone in our church. We go there to do our shopping, to communicate with each other, to be entertained, to get information, buy tickets, submit assignments, and of course listen to the sermon.
However, it’s not a world that people just passively watch. It’s a world they can participate in. They can make contributions and even shape what the online world is like. As a result, the world of the internet mirrors the real world with all its good and all its bad.
Recently I’ve had a lot of conversations with parents who are concerned that their children are spending more and more time in the world of the internet and less and less time in the real world.
Scientific research is now turning its attention to the effects of online gaming (particularly with boys) and social media (particularly with girls). One of the problems with the online world is that the last page is never reached and the credits never roll. People can be so immersed in what they’re doing that hours pass by while they remain fixated on their screens connecting, playing, watching and liking.
How do we make effective use of all the good things offered by the internet without being trapped by the things that are bad? In future spotlights, I will seek to provide some material that will be helpful.
Recently I viewed a documentary called Screenagers, which is about how teenagers are growing up with a world of screens. The documentary addresses the areas of social media, cyber bullying and online gaming – areas that many parents are concerned about. The documentary explores how technology impacts on the development of youth and offers solutions to help adults empower their children to best navigate the digital world.
A screening of the documentary in late August which we are hosting has already sold out! However, we are negotiating with the promoters to try and have the screening relocated to a larger venue that will enable more people to attend. Once a bigger venue is confirmed we will make it known.