A Focus on Masonic Research, News, and other Tidbits

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Embracing the Internet: the Implications for Freemasonry

It should probably go without saying that the entire system of Masonic correspondence and the Masonic experience were never designed to operate in a modern world now dominated by Internet forms of communication and information. Though this can also be said about other organizations, Freemasonry is rather unique in its slow moving, deliberate, and useful process of making changes. The result is that Freemasonry as an institution has been one of the slowest to embrace Internet technology and equally slow in recognizing the implications that this technology can and will have on the Fraternity.

The fact, however, is that the Internet is here and is being used by many as their primary form of communication and information gathering. Freemasonry is not immune from this trend. Men are now very likely to use their electronic devices to search for information about Freemasonry, search for lodges in their communities, and to make inquiries about becoming a Freemason. The old norm of a man personally asking a Mason about the Fraternity is quickly being eroded.

In addition, individual Masons and lodges are turning more and more to the Internet as a way to communicate with each other. Lodges has discovered, for example, that newsletters can be emailed for far more cheaply that they can be sent out via the Postal Service. Grand Masters have also realized that email is a cheaper and quicker way to relay information to District Deputy Grand Masters and other Grand Lodge officers.

Websites have also become a way to provide information that otherwise would not have been easily available to many people. Calendars of events, locations of lodges, and contact information for lodges are all items that are increasingly being provided by way of websites. In this day and age, many people have sort of adopted a mindset of, “if an organization does not have a website, then it does not really exist.”

All of this notwithstanding, the Internet is not the answer to all of Freemasonry’s information and correspondence needs. It is just a tool among others. It is a powerful tool, however. It is also one that can be used – intentionally or unintentionally – to cause great harm to the Fraternity. That may be the primary reason for Freemasonry at all levels to embrace the Internet. Yes – it should be embraced for the good that it can be used for, but it should also be embraced as a potential enemy to Freemasonry. “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”* If the institution of Freemasonry does not know about how the Internet can be – and is - applied as a weapon against the Fraternity, then it can not be prepared to deal with the implications of such.

* Sun-tzu, Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC)

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