'Terms Of Service' A Critique Of Modern Life Built On Social Media

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Tan stopped watching “Silicon Valley” after a season and a half because he couldn’t stand the relentless ridicule about improving the world, which he said still motivates him and many others besides. Bad behavior makes for good copy and plot points but doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s going with founders Tan works with, many of whom live by a do-unto-others ethic, be they Christians or just plain secular humanists. “For every Travis Kalanick there might be a thousand unsung people out there who are still trying to do the right thing and are true to those values, and so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here,” said Tan. “Funny thing is, you never have to make these values the center. Deals that aren’t good for humanity usually aren’t good opportunities either.”

Cham seemed sanguine too. That Christians are mostly closeted on social media isn’t really a VC-worth signal, as he sees it. “The fact that there haven’t been new Christian movements built around social media is really more about the weakness of social media’s influence rather than the fact that Christians haven’t been able to figure it out,” he said. Maybe the post-church future, with someone like Zuckerberg as the secular godhead, will have to wait.

Loudest among them all is Gelsinger, surely the closest thing in the Valley to John the Baptist, albeit without clothes made of camel’s hair. In an age when Twitter can elect a president and blog posts can sink CEOs, nothing is accidental in terms of online image. In his Twitter header image, Gelsinger, VMWare’s self-declared lead pastor, wears the tech-software-standard jacket and no tie among a smiling, polyglot group — one familiar with the ritual of selfies, maybe the smartphone era’s most ecumenical ritual. Of course Gelsinger is at the group’s center. He is the boss, after all.

“He doesn’t impose his beliefs on people; he honors people for what they believe, but he tries to be an example for Christ in the workplace,” said Vaccarello, who counts Gelsinger as a friend and noted that his CEO pal has talked about attending Hindu celebrations and Muslim meetings among his employees. “I think it comes down … I don’t know if he’s ever used these words … but it really comes down to caring about and loving people.”

Gelsinger’s list of speaking credits doesn’t include TED events and probably never will, not that he’s a voice of one in the wilderness. There is an ample archive of him on YouTube at events like the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, the Christian Union and various churches — not regular stops of the culture circuit, for sure, yet not invisible either. And he’s active on Twitter along with fellow CEOs, too, though in terms of followers he’s a relative backbencher compared to other execs in the public spotlight. Still, Gelsinger keeps beating the drum for those who are listening. On September 3, months after I’d spoken to Vaccarello, Gelsinger tweeted this: “This is one of the most beautiful things my #faith gives me. There’s no limit to the depth of love I feel.”

Despite the prominence and press earned by big nondenominational churches, all the big cultural trend line points decidedly away from faith of all stripes. Christianity is well on its way to becoming a minority religion in the United States, Kelly said. As in most other things, Silicon Valley, which Cham called the great staging server and development sandbox for the rest of the world, is likely to get to this secular future first. This means that relatively soon, Christianity may be at once vastly less important culturally but also more vibrant and real to its practitioners. Ecklund found Evangelical Protestant scientists were more observant, in terms of going to church, reading the Bible and praying, than even their non-scientist fellow Evangelicals, and far more observant than the culture at-large.

“I think the really interesting story is that there are 23-year-olds going to church here and not because their mom is telling them to go,” said Cham, the VC signal scanner. “To me, that’s worth checking out.”

One thing that seems certain is that technology (and the nerd execs like Gelsinger building it) will loom increasingly large in daily life. Based on written responses to my questions, he clearly keeps one eye on eternity and saving souls though remains a pragmatist about the here and now too. Perhaps it’s the old engineer in him or maybe the board has beaten afterlife mentions out of him.

I’m curious, though, about what matters most. After all, Christians are explicitly called in the Bible to go out and make disciples. This Great Commission is Jesus’ final act, at least in one telling, and for millennia since this instruction has been the source of annoyance and uncomfortable holiday gatherings for families (including mine) with certain members violently allergic to proselytizing. In one of my email questions, I asked Gelsinger: Which would be a better outcome? That the Valley would lead instead of lag the nation in philanthropy? Or that the tech elite in the Valley would be more overt in their disciple making, or least more open about their faith?

“Of course the answer to this question would — both!” Gelsinger replied. “However, if we had the most philanthropic area on earth but had made no progress in faith and attracting Christian believers, I’d have failed the Great Commission.”

Always ready with a reference to scripture, Gelsinger sure enough had one here, pointing to the parable of the vineyard. In that story, Jesus says that no matter how late workers come to the vineyard, a metaphor for the Kingdom of Heaven, they will receive an equal reward to those who have been faithful and toiled the longest. This is an ultimate reality without ahistorical fortunes for founders, early stage investors and CEOs like Gelsinger, who has talked about running into tax limitations due to the magnitude of his charitable giving.

Judge makes hay making fun of billionaire scorekeeping in his version of Silicon Valley — a place in which Gelsinger doesn’t fit, and likely doesn’t want to. The open question is where exactly he fits in the real-life version of the world’s tech dream factory.

“The parable of the vine is clear,” he said. “Eternal fruit is the only measure one has of their work on this earth.”

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Source : https://medium.com/@geoffreykoch/notes-on-watching-jesus-jockey-for-relevance-in-tech-culture-bd8c1f5ac988

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