My friend Amelia Rhodes and I text many times a day. A common theme in our messages lately has been…
“The internet is ruining the world”
Now, I don’t really believe that. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have this blog, connections to many of my friends, a way to know what Snooki’s up to. Oh. And I wouldn’t have 2 books published (it’s amazing the connections made through Facebook).
No. The internet isn’t ruing the world. It’s just that some of the internet’s users are…ahem…meanies.
You all know what I’m talking about, right? If you don’t then do me a favor. Go on over to any news station’s Facebook page and look at the comments sections under any given story. Vile. Malicious. Hateful. Vitriol.
There is just something about being able to type a hateful phrase. It’s so detached. The sender of hate is in his or her space, looking at a screen of someone whose face only occupies about half an inch. That person doesn’t feel all that real. Not as real as someone sitting across the table.
So the hateful thing is typed. Posted. Read by just about anybody.
Basically every hateful, combative, ugly thing I’ve read online came down to this…
I’m right. You’re wrong. Therefore, you don’t deserve dignity or my respect. I don’t know you. I don’t know your circumstances. Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a hooey. I have the right to say whatever I want. So there.
Insert an emoji blowing a raspberry and you’re all set. (By the way…inserting a smiley face… …or writing “Just Saying” doesn’t make it right, either). Oh! And don’t forget the cuss words typed with !##%#$@&^ because that makes it so much better.
My friends, can I tell you something? I get really embarrassed for the people who go off on rants like that. The ones who puff their chests and beat them like gorillas, trying to assert their authority and power by bullying other people.
I get especially embarrassed when the discussion is of the theological/moral/ethical variety and the puffy chested howlers are professing Jesus followers.
It gets me to longing for a cabin in the woods with no internet signal…but with indoor plumbing. I can’t do without that. Oh. And a coffee maker. Just no internet.
Um. Rabbit trail. Sorry-o.
Back on point.
Some of the most hateful smattering of words I’ve seen online came from the typing fingers of people who claim Christ as their Lord.
(Note: MOST Christians are not like this online. MOST Christians, I suspect, feel a lot like I do when they read the bravado of others. MOST Christians are loving people who are fully aware of their flaws…but are doing their best.)
Just over the last few weeks I’ve seen arguments (which in real life would be screaming matches complete with arms cocked to throw punches) about the hottest of the hot topics. Homosexuality. Abortion. Guns. Republicans vs. Democrats. Liberal vs. Conservative. Contraception. The Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”).
Insert big huge honking sigh. And insert me refusing to riff on any single one of these issues.
I know. I KNOW. We’re entitled to our opinions. I know. Freedom of speech. Cool. Got it. And, yes, I understand that some people feel the need to be loud about their convictions. Okay.
But…please…can we stop being ugly about it? Can we temper our convictions with love? You know, stop being bonging gongs and clanging cymbals.
Can we be fruity?
By being fruity!
Somebody reacts in anger to something you post? Don’t take their invitation to banter. Bow out. Believe me, you aren’t the lesser person for doing that. You’re keeping the peace.
You know someone is having a rough time? How about sending them a direct message telling them how much they mean to you. Give them a little encouragement. You’re sprouting love and kindness there, my friend.
One of your Facebook friends has a success/once-in-a-lifetime opportunity/etc? Don’t be jealous. Share their excitement. Tell them how glad you are for them. Rejoice with them. Joy, friends. JOY!
Got someone who’s constantly inviting you to play Rocket Smash or Candy Collision (or whatever the new game is this week)? Don’t get all in a huff. Just over look it. Show off that patience. It looks good on you.
Someone trashing somebody else online? Stand up for the right thing. Don’t be a jerk. But call it out (in love, remember). That’s goodness. And, when you do it with grace and humility, you’re being faithful!
Ooo. See something you shouldn’t be looking at? Yeah. Some of that’s porn. Look away. Other things we shouldn’t be looking at are the things that steal our satisfaction with what we have. I guess that’s porn of a different variety. Look away. Self-control is a pretty difficult thing. But you can do it.
Be fruity, friends. Other people will notice. They’ll want to know why it is you’re doing these things (which are straight from Galatians 5:22-23). It might just make someone think twice about posting something ugly.
It also might make people angry. Well. Good excuse to keep practicing.
How about we all try this out. I will, too. You never know the difference it can make.
Please feel free to share this. Or write a blog post of your own. Send me the link and I’ll add it to this post. I love connecting people, especially when we can bounce encouragement off each other. Let’s keep sharpening one another!