The internet has proven itself to be neutral, it’s what people do with it that gives it its negative or positive value. At the core, it’s not anything more than wires (well, not so much anymore), computers, and cable lines. Just like fire, with its ability to warm the house and cook meat, it has the potential to devastate and kill.
Last week I got a huge lesson in what happens with careless use of the Internet. I had lunch with a friend and opened the email on my iPhone. What I read was a message from a guy who had read a blog I’d commented on and wanted to get in touch with me. It turned out we had a couple other common connections, which was an added bonus. I have a rule now about not getting involved in blogosphere debates because ultimately, they’re neither useful nor beneficial to the Kingdom. It just allows for angry critics on a Mac at Starbucks to pop off about how they know the answers to everything and everyone else is wrong. Plus, getting into debates on a blog is like wrestling a pig, you both get covered in mud and the pig likes it. So my response has been to read these hot topic blogs and hit the little red button on my browser.
Thankfully the comments I made were in an attempt to defend a biblical position, and from what I remember I was a little sarcastic (but it was obvious) and gracious in disagreement. I got to have a lengthy conversation with this brother about church, family, education (he’s a fellow glutton for punishment), and our hopes/dreams for where we see the application of our theological convictions.
That’s the good, now the bad.
A family-owned restaurant in our town that we absolutely love has a Facebook page which Carrie and I are both “fans” of. We got up one morning and did what we do when we get ready, check Facebook. It’s our news source and a way of catching up with people we rarely see. On the restaurant page a disgruntled employee ripped his boss (and dad) and left the post up for the majority of the day, despite comments to dissuade him of such. One was incredibly wise “um, I’m not an expert but I don’t think it’s good to trash your old employer while you’re looking for a new job”
Here’s my encouragement: watch what you say. I joke with my students about not putting dumb things on Facebook because it’s part of the “World Wide Web,” and one day we will have to answer for our words, both spoken and posted on a Timeline. Our words have power and they speak far louder than any stick or stone. And the worst and scariest part, with the over-saturation of social media, there’s no way to escape when you say something, even off cuff.
My other encouragement: Choose to edify, not destroy. I’ve gotten convicted about having some grumpy or pessimistic Facebook updates. That’s something I’m working to repent through. It’s a means and use to glorify God and build up the church. Let’s use it for that.
And finally, in the words of the great Herm Edwards: “Don’t press send!”