An Interesting Read: Flickering Pixels

Apr 10, 2009Write!

Flickering Pixels
by Shane Hipps is an interesting book, discussing not the message, but the way we perceive, exchange and disseminate the message, particularly the media we’re interacting with. Here’s Shane on You Tube with Rob Bell:

What I enjoyed:

  • Shane writes in an easy-too-read style. I read the book through on one plane trip.
  • I enjoyed his discussion of how the written word changed us from a communally-centered culture to a more independently-minded one. It had never occurred to me how the simple act of creating language to be read changed society in such a radical way.
  • I particularly enjoyed his language on page 179, where he exegetes common passages we’ve always filtered through Me-Myself-I lenses when the verse was actually directed at a community of people. So few people understand this. When referring to Jesus’ words You are the light of the world, Hipps writes, “…These images are addressed to and describe a group, not individuals. Like Paul, when Jesus says you, it’s plural, while the word light is singular. Y’all are the light of the world. We are not a thousand points of light; we are a city on a hill.”
  • I also love how Hipps’ heart for people comes through in this book. It’s his ardent desire, I think, to be countercultural in a relational way. Conflict, he believes, is best resolved face to face, not email to email. As one who lives her days via email, his admonition hit home. I need more face time with people because folks are more than the words they type.

What fell flat:

  • I expected a more thorough discourse about why our current technology is “bad.” Or studies as to why our penchant for computers and cell phones and twitters and facebooking can be damaging. He gave an apt history of technology in terms of the printed word, newspapers, television, etc. But what about today’s rapid-fire technological change? How specifically does it damage? In what ways does it create community?
  • I appreciated his discussion about image, how pictures and movies and TV have shaped our society, particularly a postmodern society. But I’d love to see this further explored: As artists who follow Christ, how can we best serve our audience? Is it simply denying image all together? Or do we combine words and image to reach folks? How? And what about storytelling? It seems to be a perfect medium to reach our story-loving culture. How can we best craft stories that reach people? (I would’ve loved a discussion about how graphic novels have become so deeply important and popular. My guess is that a combination of image and text resonates with today’s culture.)

A listing of all the other posts in the blog discussion is here.

All in all, though, a fascinating book. In light of Hipps’ love for community and discourse, let’s talk about a few things together in the comments section:

  1. How do you feel technology (particularly information technology) has fractured our society? In what ways has it enhanced community? Destroyed?
  2. Think of the most techno-info-savvy person you know. Is he/she joyful? Why or why not? Is he/she frenzied? Why or why not?
  3. Would you consider a fast from media and technology? If so, how long? What would be the benefits of such a fast?

I look forward to your discussion.