Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fear and Loathing in Social Media, Part 2

Continued from Part 1:
"The Internet's not written in pencil, Mark.  It's written in ink."
Just about everyone has heard that line from The Social Network.  And it's true:  Shouted, muttered, whispered, scrawled, or typed, our words can exist long after we're gone, whatever the medium.  Technology didn't start that particular fire, but it might have poured gasoline on it.  Things fly off our iWhatevers faster than we can really evaluate the wisdom - or the ethics - of posting them in the first place.

What you write is important, sure.  But equally important is why you're writing.  The effects will be, believe it or not, long lived.  Be as certain as you can they're good effects.

My caveat here is that I certainly haven't got this all buttoned up yet.  It's something I struggle with.  To my shame, I've been pretty darn good at transforming words into thermonuclear weapons.

These kinds of questions* are ones I'm asking of myself lately:

1.  What's my motive?

Why am I saying this, anyway?  Is my goal to win an argument, improve my own stature, save face, attract attention, to get someone told... or is my goal to show the grace and love of Christ in gracious and loving words that would glorify him?  Big difference.  One is almost exclusively self-serving, the other just... serving.

My preacher pen pal (from last time) was focused on winning an argument.  An argument with someone he knew to be a fellow servant of Christ.  As fellow servants, we're commanded to love and be gentle with each other.  He dunked over me anyway.  The motive mattered.

2.  What would happen if every single person I know read this?

Would including your wife, hubby, preacher, mom, or boss in this communication change what you just said?  How?

Is privacy in this matter important?  Is there a good reason why disclosure should trump privacy in this case?  Why?  Are you sure?  Would it do some unintentional (but predicable) damage?  We all say yep, privacy’s very important... but we mean our privacy is important for us.  The other guy's privacy?  Not a big deal.  Your Facebook account is littered with examples of decent, well-meaning people destroying privacy and goodwill simply because they were thoughtless.

Is this important?  Is it beneficial?  Is it so important and beneficial that 2, or 20, or 2,000,000 people need to see it? 

Does this improve my life, or the lives of others?  Or does it degrade us?

3.  Does this honor and glorify Jesus Christ?

I know, I know, that's a whopper of a question to ask when you're telling 3,153 people how juicy your turkey sandwich is.  (Stop that, by the way.)  But when you're a servant of Jesus, you have to pose the question:  Do my actions reflect well upon (or just plain reflect) Christ Jesus?

I think your answer to that question might cut how much you interact online by half.  Maybe more.  But if your answer is, “That’s profoundly dumb, because what I post has absolutely nothing to do with my faith,” then - and I'll steal this from someone else - you may be splitting your life into secular and spiritual pieces… a concept never, ever endorsed in scripture.

Stay frosty out there, kids.

*Since this blog is Christian (If you didn't know that... Hey, this blog is Christian.) these are necessarily Christian-flavored.  But then, shouldn't they be?  If you’re Christian, but operating without a set of Christian ethics for your online behavior, does that make sense?


bebe said...

This is all well-said and pulls together things that have been rattling around in my head as well.Well done and thanks!

rwl10802.word.press.com said...

"Things fly off our iWhatevers. . ."

*snort* Made me laugh.

Great part deaux.