Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Michael Hearn, DMin
A. J. Swoboda, PhD
Online communication is becoming increasingly divisive. This dissertation argues that the best way for individuals to decrease social media polarization is for people to engage in the ministry of reconciliation in their social media interactions. Section One describes how social media polarizes because the medium promotes networked individualism, exaggerates dehumanizing “discarnate” communication and numbs humanity’s ability to form meaningful relationships. The left-brain focused argumentation, writing-centered communication and depersonalized nature of online interactions increase a lack of empathy in social media users and add to the polarizing chaos evident in many social media conflicts. Section Two examines how individuals have unsuccessfully tried to address the increased polarization of social media through employing non-relational, information-based solutions; engaging in increased argumentative partisan behaviors; embracing ideological segmentation and adopting conflict avoidance and disengagement practices. Section Three proposes how to facilitate social media reconciliation through (1) developing a Christ-centered theology of reconciliation; (2) advocating online reconciliation that addresses the unique challenges of the medium of social media and (3) utilizing Brenda Salter McNeil’s Roadmap to Reconciliation as a guide to internet conflict resolution. Section Four describes the artifact, a non-fiction book entitled, Angry, Polarizing People: Communicating Truth in the Social Media Age, that will help readers communicate in a way that promotes reconciliation. Section Five articulates the artifact’s specifications.
Bursch, Douglas, "Social Media Polarization and the Ministry of Reconciliation" (2019). Doctor of Ministry. 291.