I subscribe to a Christian Satirical site on Facebook called the Babylon Bee. They usually poke fun at some quirky element of our Christianity, and they take shots at the wide spectrum of what makes up the church. They are often amusing and sometimes quite funny.
But until today, I had not noticed that people leave comments on Facebook about these posts. Today I read one stream. And yet again I was amazed at the things people will say when hidden by the veil of the internet. And of course, many of these people would call themselves Christian.
What the internet has changed is that we get to say things to people through the internet that we would never say to an actual person, face to face. Why? Because we all tend to avoid conflict. We all tend to dislike the tension of saying or doing things that will evoke strong emotions in others. So when we are with an actual person, we tend to soften our posture, our words, our expressions.
But not on the internet. With the internet and social media, we no longer see people; we only see words and pictures. And so we react. We react strongly. We react in ways we would never do face to face. This is why social media can be so cruel and incendiary. We use it to vent our frustration and strong feelings without caring for what it does to other people (because there are no other real people in view, only their posts).
The same principle is true when we are driving. We no longer see the people driving, only an obstacle or irritant. So we let the other car have it when we get frustrated. (Imagine if people gave each other the finger in person as often as it happens on the road.)
So, what’s the point? As Christians, we must always strive and strain to see the other person, and so acknowledge that they are made in God’s image, loved by God, and people for whom Jesus died. That way, we will never justify treating them as something less, and thus justifying when we vent our strong emotions on them.
I contend that Christians become a leveling force of civility in the world in how we live all aspects of our lives, and especially our lives on the internet. The Biblical commands apply there as well.
It starts with you and it starts with me.
Grace & Peace,