For much of history, humans have grappled with questions of meaning and belonging within institutions like churches and civic groups. Today, more and more people are leaving religious and other communal institutions and moving their search for connection and significance to digital space. Especially in the time of social distancing and online learning, the work of being human — exploring life’s big questions, finding a sense of identity and context, and connecting with others — increasingly happens on the internet. How is this changing our understanding of who we are? Join humanist author, activist, and professor Chris Stedman for a conversation about his new book IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives, what it means to be “real” in the time of Twitter and TikTok, and what we can learn from the novel ways of being and belonging that are emerging online.
Chris Stedman is a Minneapolis-based writer, speaker, and community organizer. He is the author of IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives (2020) and Faitheist (2012). Chris has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS, and has written for publications including The Guardian, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Pitchfork, VICE, USA Today, and The Washington Post. Previously the founding director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, Chris also served as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University. He currently teaches in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Augsburg University and serves as the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities’ 2020-21 visiting lecturer. To learn more, visit chrisstedmanwriter.com.