It can be reasonably accepted that influencing people's thoughts is most effective when aimed at the young. With still-developing minds and ideologies, younger people are far more likely to believe your claims and follow your judgments. It's a tactic that religious organizations absolutely rely on. But this is the age of the internet, where new competing ideas and information are a click away. Religious groups can no longer rely on communion and Sunday school to hold their young flock's attention, so what are they to do?
Enter 1flesh.org, a website spearheaded by Marc Barnes of the Patheos blog Bad Catholic and brought to my attention by the friendliest of atheists Hemant Mehta. The site itself is devoted to the usual anti-birth-control/ anti-abortion fare that we see so often, only with a hip new look and an anti-condom view that strays from the standard "It's against God's will" argument and ends up somewhere closer to "Condoms suck, go bareback instead!"
I'm not here to talk about how the statistics cited are questionable at best and actively misleading at worst, or how he proposes a glorified rhythm method as an acceptable alternative to using contraceptives that work. That is all covered pretty succinctly by Hemant. What I am talking about is the appearance of the site, and how it informs their attempted changes in appealing to the young.
|Because misinformation has never looked snazzier.|
If you've looked into the site for more than 30 seconds (or even just glanced at the above picture), you'll probably notice the sheer number of ragefaces and infographics used by the site. As a fairly hardcore citizen of the internet and the sort of redditor who has once unironically bragged about their karma (5000+ comment karma… Ladies) I can confidently say that those are the sort of images that are only registered by those who have been brought up with the internet, that millennial age group who are doubting their faith and disagreeing with traditional fundamentalist views at unprecedented rates. Here's the important part, this age group is going to be the next set of the world's mothers and fathers; and that’s who they need to advertise to, the ones who will be raising and teaching the next generation.
|That sound you just heard was the internet |
crying over abused ragefaces. Aaaw yeah.
So what does this say about the organizations which are attempting to appeal to these children of the internet age? Why the need to suddenly use online culture to advertise upholding traditional views? I think it's because the world and culture is changing faster than the church and its views can come to terms with. So it has been forced into a choice: either let its stances on family planning stand alone and sink into the obscurity of a bygone era, or try to shoehorn its views into something young and trendy, and pray it catches on to continue the cycle of religious influence. If 1flesh.org is any indication, they'll try everything to their power to achieve the latter, but it seems like it is only a matter of time before the reasonable path will win out and the cycle will be broken.