Preaching to the Tribes
BY: SUN Staff
Jul 13, USA (SUN)
Over the last few years, social networking (SN) has emerged as one of the "next great things" in the world of Internet technology. Social networking platforms like the Tribe and Six Degrees have sprung up to compete with the more traditional forums like Usenet, Yahoo groups, and instant messaging. Not surprisingly, devotees all over the world have begun to populate these SN spaces to spread the glories of Lord Caitanya's Sankirtan movement.
Basically, a "social network" is a map of the relationships between individuals. These maps indicate the ways in which people are connected through various social familiarities, ranging from casual acquaintance to close family bonds. On the Internet, people are connected through their familiarities by way of hyperlinks, which let them hook-up from webpages, mobile phones, blogs, and e-groups.
Users populate SN spaces by building a personal profile that describes who they are, what they enjoy, where they've been, and where they want to go. In SN environments like Tribe.net, nearly every word of a user's profile is a hyperlink. If someone lives in Orissa, they only need to click on that word in their profile to quickly see, meet and greet other Tribe members with a relationship to Orissa.
Users not only build profiles, they also start and facilitate their own tribes, which can be loosely or tightly focused around any subject imaginable. Among the growing number of devotees now online in SN spaces, many are running Krsna Conscious tribes that are vibrant preaching venues. Devotee tribes focused on arcana, kirtan and bhajan, and Gaudiya Vaisnavism not only bring devotees together, but create an instant-connect location for non-devotee tribe members to find out more about the philosophy, sadhana practice, and culture.
What makes SN tribe-ing such a potent preaching tool is the quality of personalism inherent in the linkage. While Google can instantly connect us to a million page views about Bhakti, it doesn't put us a single click away from seeing a picture of each webmaster, looking at a photo album of images from their family life, or reading where they went to college. This granular degree of personalism streamlines preaching because it let's the preacher quickly assess who the jivatma at the other end of the "click" appears to be. The preaching message can be tailored to the newcomer, who's likely to be eager to learn more about something that's connected in a real way to their own life and interests.
On the Sampradaya Sun's front page, left column, you'll find a list of several devotee preaching tribes from Tribe.net. Nityananda Rama dasa (ISKCON Portland) is one of the Tribe's most active preachers. He runs several devotee tribes, and is tireless in his efforts to expose as many others as possible to the science of Krsna Consciousness. The results of such efforts can be easily measured by subsequent postings or blogs in which newcomers describe their visits to various temples, Govindas restaurants, and Krishna websites. Social networks provide local and global preaching opportunities, and serve as a via medium through which the mercy of the Sampradaya can be distributed.