Recently, there have been many-a-blog post regarding personal convictions flying around the old internet machine. Not to mention all the political garbage floating around cyberspace.
This is not my take on any of those “issues.”
Quite frankly, I don’t think grey areas of personal conviction are the problem. I think the problem is our culture’s obsession with telling people that they are wrong just because they believe something that we may or may not feel personally convicted about.
The internet is glorious. As someone who has made their living in the freelance copywriting sphere, I wouldn’t really even have a job if it wasn’t for the internet and social media. However, the internet has opened up a portal into the lives and beliefs of others that we wouldn’t ordinarily be privy to.
Nowadays everyone has a blog or a website. I do. You probably do. And if you don’t, you’ve probably at least written one tweet, Facebook, or Instagram post about some topic that you have an opinion about. This isn’t a bad thing, clearly, I’m doing it right now. The fact that we all have the ability to be heard and seen is wonderful. It’s an immediate creative outlet―a megaphone for issues that matter and need awareness. The platform we each have with the internet is an incredible opportunity…there is great power in words after all.
But as Voltaire said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Or maybe it was Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben that said that…I can’t remember.
Unfortunately, the internet and the ability to post whatever it is we are thinking in that moment to thousands of people has somehow become old hat to us. We rarely take the time to weigh our words against how they could affect others, or even ask why it is we are broadcasting what it is we are broadcasting. If you think it, say it. Post it. Tweet it. Share it. Comment it. Whatever.
Which ultimately brings me to my main point: Since anyone can post anything they want about any topic they so choose on the internet, and many of these pieces go viral, we will all undoubtedly be exposed to opinions that we will not agree with, or perhaps are even downright opposed to.
And that’s actually okay.
We do not have to police these people. We do not have to tell them that they are wrong to feel convicted about whatever it is they feel convicted about. That’s not your job. That’s not my job. That’s Jesus’ job and the job of those who actually know and love them.
I may think it’s stupid, but if I do not know them personally, then my comments are more likely rooted in some psychological need to feel more right than they are…as if the mere existence of their opinion threatens my privilege to feel however I want about that particular issue.
Granted, some issues are black and white, wrong and right. Human abuse of any kind is wrong. Certain Biblical truths are pretty cut and dry. These types of issues aren’t really what I’m talking about. Though I will say, even if someone espouses some backward theology all over the internet, I still probably won’t comment. Because they do not know me. I may feel like I know them because I just read a tiny snippet of their thoughts, but I haven’t put the time in with them relationally in order to have passport to speak into their life. And because of this, my negative comments would just be noise, not careful advice doled out in love, but instead shallow judgment given out of my need to be the superior authority.
I can instantly gratify my desire to be heard and feel “right” with a few swift clicks of my keyboard and a click of the “post” button. And aside from someone commenting on my comment, there is little to no ramifications for the words I can hurl like bombs at people I do not know. I do not have to see their tearful pain as they read torrent after torrent of negativity from faceless interweb underlings who know nothing about them, where they came from, or who they are, save for one blog post. And let’s be honest, the blog post was probably about something ridiculous like why they have decided only to shop at Trader Joe’s from now on.
Who the heck cares if they want to do that? No seriously, why do we care? I wish I could shout this from a mountain. Why do we feel that we must make fun of them or belittle their decisions to the point of actually causing these sort of silly personal blog posts to go viral? If we would all stop sharing it with our reviews on how “stupid” we think it is, it would actually go away faster.
So, why do we feel that we have to change their minds? Are they hurting you? Are they hurting me? Are they hurting someone else? If the answer is no (as it often is), then hold your fire. Someone’s personal decision to only shop at Trader Joe’s, or use essential oils to get rid of acne, or never wear pink socks again, etcetera, etcetera, doesn’t mean your decision NOT to do any of those things is incorrect.
And for the issues that actually do matter…politics, human rights, refugees, the Bible in schools…well, I hate to break it to you, but arguing about it via social media is absolutely not going to fix anything. At no time in the history of EVER were our social and economical problems corrected because someone burned someone else on Reddit or Tumblr. There are ways we can work to make change possible, but no one seems interested in doing anything other than complaining on Facebook. That’s because change, REAL CHANGE, requires discipline.
It’s so much easier just to abuse people with our opinions than it is to actually work to change the issues that DO matter.
Words have power. We can wield our words easier than ever before in this age of the internet. What if prior to writing a post or leaving a comment, we each asked ourselves why we are doing it? Is it to be right? Is it so we can feel better than them or flaunt our intellect? Is it so we can feel funny by putting them down? I’m not saying don’t comment; we should comment! Writer’s love feedback, we all love feedback. But do so carefully, do so with love. If we can’t be loving, well, then we should keep it to ourselves.
Let’s not be a “gotcha!” culture that points out people’s flaws or nitpicks someone’s opinion to shreds in public forums. Let’s not be a culture that glorifies moot issues when there are so many other issues that need our attention. Let’s believe the best in people, especially if we don’t know their backstory. Let’s celebrate and support. Let’s humbly and privately ask for clarification instead of assuming and accusing publicly. Let’s not add to the noise. Let’s not add to the hurt. Let’s remember that our words have weight.