I am, most days, fairly reasonable. I enjoy a good conversation, a good and lively debate, differing opinions and view points. None of that means that I do not have view points of my own, but I do enjoy others. I like diversity. I enjoy most when the “educated” and “uneducated” can actually swap ideas and share things with each other. I think both have perspectives valuable in the search for truth. Ultimately I believe in people. I believe in them so much, that one of my sources of contact with them will come to an end. The decision is mine, it does not feel forced nor is it some plea for attention. It is simply what I need to do in order to continue to be able to believe the best of people. This swan song, if you will, is a final attempt on my part to try to shed light to online community and why it matters, how it helps, and how it hurts.
I believe that social media can be an amazing tool for community. I believe that online groups and rooms, church services and teachings, blogs, and networks, all constitute community. I believe that when you choose to “like” a post, comment upon a blog or story, etc. that you are voluntarily engaging in that community. The potential is amazing! The ability to exchange thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and lives has never been more available. The ability to interact with strangers never more ready, the ability to influence others never more important. Unfortunately never more abused.
To often I find myself in discussions that turn ugly, accusatory and just plain mean. To often people, myself included, end up saying things hurtful, vulgar, unnecessary. To often there is verbal bullying and abuse. To often the idea that we are essentially anonymous allows our sinful nature to speak before the nature we have in rebirth can come to the forefront. To often we are so convinced that we are right that we can not allow a second to pass before we start to type so as to disagree. To often we, the people of God, rip off own arms and legs with a keyboard and a computer screen. We are indeed one body and make no doubt, when you are mean, nasty, hurtful toward your brothers and sisters, even online, you have in effect ripped off your arm. If we should speak in love, it means we should type in love also. We all to often are not. I all to often am not.
This boils down to me feeling entirely to much hurt and pain when I or others say harmful things to people. When we insist that someone is not able to receive grace for whatever the reason. When we start talking about the “right way” to do church. It is a selfish choice because I choose to not allow myself to continue in that hurt. This does not require comment to me as I will not respond, but please feel free to use this as a discussion starter as to how this is true. Perhaps it is not at all true and I am a lunatic. This is possible as well. In this great digital age, we have such potential to reach people for the gospel more than ever and we spend our time fighting over the very tool we have to advance the Kingdom. For me that will no longer happen. I will read my news sites, and the like. I will of course use my email. I will not disengage from the information available, but I will disengage from interacting online via social media. God has given us this great and wonderful tool for connecting with each other and for forming a new and expanding community. I have contributed far to much in its misuse to continue. I hope that you who may read this learn from my bad example and use this tool to instead begin building the Kingdom instead of tearing it down. Peace.