The Russian Orthodox Church’s (ROC) discourses about the internet are centered on the idea that digital technology is an ethically neutral instrument. At the same time, however, both the highest clerics and rank-and-file priests continuously express disquietude or overtly negative attitudes toward the internet. Even those actively involved in blogging have paradoxically developed this ‘digital anxiety’, expressing it through a slew of negative metaphors around the internet ranging from drug addiction, to meaningless chattering, to a swamp in which they are drowning to a vanity fair. In their defense, the internet has become associated with moral corruption, and a threat to the society and its core values, to such an extent that it is legitimate to speak about the ‘moral panic’ around the internet in the Orthodox discourses. The discrepancy between the officially accepted ‘instrumentalization’ interpretation of the internet, and widespread ‘digital anxiety’, however, signals that the internet is the issue for the ROC, in spite of its claim that it is not.

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