Event Speaker

Speaker: Friendship in a Digital Age #mmudigifriends #mcrESRCfestival

Slides put together at short notice to contribute to ESRC funded event ‘Are you really my friend? Exploring digital relationships’ this morning (I’m unlikely to use all my slides – but people can see the shape which offers an overview of one my book chapter re ‘Relationships (Online)’:

Friendship in a Digital Age (@drbexl for @MMUBS) from Bex Lewis

[REPORT] Friendship in a Digital Age

“Young people are using a diverse range of digital platforms to communicate with their friends, and most young people are having a positive time online.”

Encouraging from Internet Safety Day back in February, in this short report Friendship in a Digital Age:



#BIGRead14: The Unlovely

Image Source: The Worship Cloud
Image Source: The Worship Cloud


Today’s poem ‘The Unlovely‘ ends:

Help us learn to love the unlovely
that we might find ourselves loving
the unlovely in others,
and that the unlovable parts of ourselves
might feel the warmth and worth of true love.

I loved this picture above – made from recycled materials – all things that had been abandoned as useless or ‘unlovely’, and made into something beautifully creative! But then the idea that we work as a community, and it’s not only about engaging with the people who enrich us, but those who may have less loveable parts, and finding ways round and through difficulties… for the sake of something new and beautiful.

#Do1NiceThingTake a prayer walk round your neighbourhood and pray for needs// This is powerful, and means eyes up, rather than eyes down (unless praying for the pavements to be clear .. as is required in some areas!)

Maggi Dawn

Mark 5: 1-20 – the demons into the swine … well that’s certainly something unlovely removed… and the story chimes almost exactly with the poem above … Legion was ‘unlovely’ – people didn’t know how to cope with him, so he was left to wander the graveyards alone. As he became well, there was also a fear that they would get involved with something too difficult to cope with… but God calls for us to engage with the unlovely as well as the lovely..


Can you make real friends online asks @PsychologiesMag

Guess I better get round to submitting an article that’s skittering around in my head for Psychologies magazine, as I spotted this story asking whether online friendships are ‘real’? I need to get on with my research – once I’ve written my book for parents/turned my PhD into a book (or equivalent digital!), as I want to write a book called something like “it’s real”.

Common themes in my conference papers are:

  • The ‘digital native’ debate has been debunked by Prensky who wrote it in 2001, as it limits by age, rather than by mindset – a more commonly used phrase is ‘digital resident’, although this is not uncontested.
  • I think Dunbar’s number also needs to be contested – I suspect personality type comes into this. As an E, I love having lots of different friends, and some are closer than others. A lot of I’s I suspect, are happier with a smaller, closer number, and there’s more research that can be done on engagement there.
  • Online relationships ARE real, there are real human beings, building real relationships and having real conversations online, and we must always remember that there’s a human being behind the keyboard. This does not mean that online relationships are THE SAME as offline relationships, but they shouldn’t be diminished on that basis.
  • In the most recent talk I gave on Friday, we’re seeking to do research into values in social media, and we were seeking to find the values that I was putting forward when I talked about ‘a blend’, we played around with ‘community’, but I think ‘inclusiveness’ is truly what I’m seeking. It doesn’t matter what tool you use – your mouth, pen/paper, telephone, online – it’s all about conversation, community, feeling a part of it (whatever ‘it’ is), and building relationships, and it’s at the heart of everything.
  • With The Big Bible project we’re seeking to build a sense of community amongst those who are trying to engage with the Bible – whether online or offline, although especially seeking online ways of engagement.

I was intrigued to see responses to my “I could say lots…” at which point I’d stopped with a brain choked full of cold, so I’ve come back today to write the response above… fascinating:

Look forward to seeing more debate – the one re embodiment comes up frequently in Christian sessions (and I love my face-to-face contact, and often use technology to enhanced that!), and I do find myself highlighting the power of digital for those who are physically disabled, but as in all my projects on accessibility/usability – anything that can improve things for those with a disability tends to improve the lot of all!