When we started this blog a few months ago, I was became anxious about a few things. Would I do it well? Could I be consistent with both message and content on a week to week basis? But the biggest thing I was worried about was……the dissenters.
Because, people can be jerks online.
I have been thinking about this for a while, especially after reading the comment sections of some blogs I read.
And, I wonder….if any of these commenters were face to face with those they disagreed with, would they be so bold? When it came right down to it, would the commenters say the same things if the “digital veil” were not drawn?
You see, the internet makes us very bold, indeed. When the (perceived) consequences are diminished, we are freed up to say things we wouldn’t normally say and demonize people we have never met face to face.
I am a big fan of an artist named Derek Webb. He is a musician and writer who started with the folk-christian group, Caedmon’s Call. Basically it was his music that provided a soundtrack for my college years.
In the last few years he has dropped some of the pretense of being a “christian artist” (really, that is a subject to be discussed later) and started dealing with the issues of the world in a more honest way that has garnered a lot of criticism.
To put it short, he became more liberal. And that drives folks crazy apparently.
I love the guy. While I don’t always agree with him, I think he is fascinating and a great songwriter to boot. He will often say things or write on his blog about things that get people thinking (and sometimes upset). So, he gets a lot of the mean-spirited comments, especially from Christians in response.
Because of this, he posted this satirical blog about how to deal with someone you might not agree with online.
I think this is just hilarious, especially in light of how I see people act online. People I know and respect in “real life” will post things online that really make me cringe. They will take a political or social stance on an issue and assume that everyone who is a christian agrees with them. And, if you call them on it, get ready! You will have a fight on your hand.
So, after reading Derek’s post and considering your online persona, consider these questions as you post or comment online:
- Is what I am writing online reflective of the way I would address a person face-to-face?
- How well do I know this person that I am criticizing?
- Turn the tables around: what if this person you were critisizing was your son or daughter? How would you respond to the person who is speaking this way to your child?
- Finally, how well are you representing Christ as you write?
This is not to say that we shouldn’t disagree online.
We just shouldn’t be jerks about it.