Posted by: dacalu | 10 November 2012


I was struck the other day by a feeling I have decided to call anikonia.  It’s happening more and more often these days, a sense of frustration at not being able to communicate in the form of a picture.  I’ve noticed that Powerpoint and Facebook have made it increasingly easy to share images.  So much so that I find myself itching to use them in daily conversation.

I suspect my friends who are in their teens and twenties feel this much more keenly than I.  One of them told me the other day the she felt this generation was just as social as earlier generations, but that they were social in the context of social media.  It took me about a week to figure this out.  It does not mean younger people interact less face-to-face.  Perhaps they do, I couldn’t say.  It does mean that even when they do, their relationships range through the virtual world as well.  They communicate digitally even when communicating orally, because there is a depth of meaning that can only be conveyed in a diagram, a picture, a movie, or even an app.

It gives me a whole new appreciation for the place of images (including ikons) in the emerging church movement.  Once we have integrated the ability to communicate visually (rapidly and expansively) we feel out of place in a text only environment.  This is not simply an aesthetic preference, it’s a faculty for communication.  Anikonia may become as distressing as losing the ability to make hand gestures or even losing the ability to talk.

Teachers and pastors need to be savvy about alternate communications styles.  It’s not just a new way to reach people; it’s a whole new social landscape that augments how we communicate.


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