It is a recent movie you may have heard about. It is a popular term on the internet and in gaming, speaking of a representation of the person interacting via techonology. This meaning comes from the descent and incarnation of a diety in earthly form, associated with the Hindu god Vishnu (from m-w.com).
James Cameron made this recent film, another blockbuster movie. The term used for the title may be more appropriate than he realized. In the film, humans take on avatars, forms of the alien Na'vi people, to interact with them. According to CNN, people are dealing with depression because they want to live in a paradise as beautiful and spiritual as Pandora, the alien planet depicted in the movie.
This is a sad story. I feel bad for people who feel they don't have anything more worthwhile in their life than a fictional visual presentation. One could almost laugh about it, but there is a definite lack of community in the modern world. Where did we lose track of being a part of something?
People in the article saw the interconnectedness of the Na'vi with their planet and felt a longing for such connection in their own lives. There's been a lot written about technology destroying meaningful relationships, replacing them instead with status updates and tweets. This problem started before Facebook and company ever sprang up on the interwebs anyway.
In the past, there was much more need for villages and communities to work together to survive. Now we don't know who is across the street from us, and we are too independent to declare our need for each other (unless it is the barista handing us our caffeinated nourishment - some people REALLY need that).
As my friend Nicole said in her comment to my Monday post on Avatar, people long for community and belonging because that's how they were designed. We were meant to be part of a body, part of a kingdom. Jesus came to tell us that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.
If you're not a believer, this may seem like a strange concept. If we realize that we are God-breathed, we all have value, and it elevates our relationships because we realize everyone from our best friends to our family to the people we don't like at work (or church) are made in the image of God, and He said this was very good. It puts a import on each human, that there is intrinsic value and dignity in everyone. If everyone has a design, a purpose, then that makes community important, because we are the threads that God wants to weave into a majestic tapestry.
For my Christian friends, we need to work on our relationships. If we can't model real community to the world, then they may see their only hope in a fictional world.
A few more thought on this new "Eden" before I'm done blabbing on Avatar.