Third spaces and the Internet
Third spaces are mentioned in David E. Fitches book “The Great Giveaway” (p.64-65). Upon reflecting on this categorization of a non-threatening place were we as christians bump into ordinary people in safe places. There are few of these in our culture. Places were issues of competition for power, prestige and plunder are subdued, places were our culture has the ability to meet and interact without presumptions.The Internet has often been touted as having many of the similar traits to those of ‘third spaces’. To most middle aged people, the Internet does not hold great significance as a tool for ‘quasi-social’ interaction, this disqualifies it from being a social enviroment in the eyes of many people.
There is a group emerging that use the Internet to suppliment alot of their social activity and lives. Most of the people I meet, when I suggest that the three of these ideas, “third spaces” (now that Fitch has given me a term for it), the Internet and Youth brush me off. I think they do so because despite the fact that alot of social activity happens on the Internet for our younger generation, it does not strike us as relevant becasue the Internet to us seems to be extremely impersonal and lacks the dimensions of F2F (face to face) interaction. While this is true I beleive that we need to look closer at this medium. Despite the fact that you may not use facebook, msn spaces, blogs, LinkedIn or any other network tools, the next generation will and does. They spend alot of time in this third space and it is demanding more and more of our attention as technology becomes more and more accessible to the general population. I’ve been reflecting on how the ‘Global Village’ has implications on ecclesiology when it comes to ‘seekers’ and ‘strangers’. We may be missing out on ministry that only exists online.