Reminding us that “meetinghouse internet is intended to further the purposes of the Church” and not to check out your social media feeds or play games, over the weekend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to stake technology specialists and others informing them that effective May 1, the firewall on meetinghouse wireless networks will block a bevy of social media networks and video streaming platforms.
The platforms affected include Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify, Soundcloud, Zynga, Kahoot, Clash of Clans, and others. Yes, the Church is going to block you from playing crappy games based around loot boxes and microtransactions. Consider that one a blessing.
Curiously absent from the notice is the largest social network: Facebook. The reasons behind allowing Facebook—whose apps are notoriously system resource-intensive and major data sucks—to access the wireless networks can only be surmised. But we’ll venture a guess that there is strategic value in allowing wards and branches to retain access to their unofficial Groups, or to encourage individuals to “check in” at the meetinghouse as a bit of a soft missionary tool. (Swarm is also not banned, nor is Tinder or Mutual.)
One seminary teacher lamented in a Facebook comment that blocking Kahoot would be detrimental to their efforts as a seminary teacher, as the app is quite effective for teaching lessons and engaging the youth.
Blocking Twitter will also crush #ldsconf engagement during the now once-per-year Priesthood Session of General Conference. Or people can just use their mobile data, you know.
As for some of the others, uh, is anyone really using Rhapsody at church? Or Flixster? Or MySpace?
While blocking so many sites can seem restrictive—a Jell-O Firewall, if you will—it’s good to remember the exact reasons for doing this, as outlined in the letter: “Non-Church-related internet use in meetinghouses often creates difficulty for those who are trying to use it for Church purposes.” For any who have attempted to stream video from the Mormon Channel app only to buffer into infinity, you know this pain point. That said, who would kick in an extra one percent in tithing to upgrade wireless access points and invest in a gigabit connection Church-wide? Anyone? If I can’t stream 4K episodes of Queer Eye on a night when I’m “playing basketball with the guys,” what’s been the point of this whole thing?! What is my raison d’être?
That said, can we please update the suite of LDS apps so I don’t have to basically redownload content every time I hop on? I’d be much happier downloading the entirety of Hymns rather than waiting for the network to load “Sweet Is the Work” in time to make the first verse.
In the end, this might be a good juncture to reflect on why we think we need wifi at church, and to ask ourselves how much access to that technology is drawing away our focus on the real purpose for our meetings.
But don’t worry, Pioneer47 lives on. Globally.
The full list of affected apps is below.
- Xfinity TV
- Amazon Video
- Clash of Clans
- Big Fish Games