Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Ministry of Spam-A-Lot

Since when is spamming a bona-fide ministry?
People believe the Internet to be the latest and greatest vehicle to spread their own personal convictions to the masses—the gospel according to… THEM! How easy it is! They never have to face anyone. They can throw the rudest and most accusing thoughts out into the universe without ever having to hear a retort or see the look of incredulity on the face of someone who might know something different. There are no social repercussions. They don’t have to cite their sources or have any proof for the claims they make or worry about that annoyingly trivial little thing called accountability. Logic can go completely awry and no one has to pay the piper. One simply has to click the send key and walk away feeling like he has helped make the world a better place in some small way. World War II reminds us that people don’t believe the little lies as easily as they believe the big ones. I’ve recently read some whoppers. Most of those whoppers use the tried and true tools of manipulation: intimidation, ridicule, and fear. Fear is the POLAR opposite of faith. Yet, what I’ve witnessed in the last few months are many who claim to be people of faith peddling the most fear.
I have a place on the Internet where I post my opinions. It’s called a blog, and I think it’s the greatest thing since peanut butter fudge with chocolate drizzles. I invite people to click on the link to my blog, but I do not copy and paste its contents and send it to everyone in my address book. On it, I state my opinions. And I’m not even gonna lie—it feels pretty good to vent. It’s an amazing feeling to put something out there and proclaim, “THIS IS WHAT I THINK, AND I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS!” But I keep my rantings all in one solitary place. My reckless abandon is contained! I do NOT circulate my opinions and convictions around the Internet because I’m just not that arrogant to believe that anybody gives a shit as to what I think about anything. People can tune in or opt out. The only source I can cite for this wisdom is my own brain, so I could never presume to claim any legitimate credibility. People can agree or disagree. There is a place for comments where my readers have done just that—agreed and disagreed. How insulated and safe it all is, even when someone does disagree. If I’m afraid that someone might, in fact, have a differing opinion, I have a nifty little filter that allows me to preview any message before I post it. If I don’t like how people respond, I can simply delete their posts and go make myself a sandwich. (Incidentally, I have never even thought about filtering or deleting any response to my blog. Ever.)
What if we were forced to go back to a time when, if we felt compelled to throw our opinions into the ring, we had to actually face people? What if we had to actually look into the eyes of another person and say what was on our minds? Would we take such a strong, adversarial stance then? Would we do a little more research and make sure we knew what we were talking about before we stuck our necks out? Because now it seems that we don’t have to stick our necks out at all. Would we be as condescending? Would we still have the hutspa to be as rude and as glibly self-important as the Internet currently allows? I think we should have to look people in the eyes when we speak, acknowledge what we do to them with our words, and take responsibility if we insult them with the gratuitous “sharing” that we convince ourselves is simply the truth. I think we should have to consider the distinct possibility that if people are not receptive to what we say, then PERHAPS we could contemplate a little self-reflection? If that reflection leads us right back to our convictions, then PERHAPS we could rethink the delivery?
If compassion were an actual requirement, would we be kinder? Would we force ourselves to THINK, not only about WHAT we would say but HOW we would say it before we allow the words to come out of our mouths? Would we be more thoughtful to others if we were forced to physically absorb their reactions to our opinions? Would we be slightly more wary about how we spoke to people if we knew they could beat us up? Would we give someone else a chance to talk if we saw their face contort into confusion in response to our proclamations? Would we listen to them or just wait “politely” to stop talking so that we could have their strict attention again before we resume our tirade?
No, I suppose that’s too hard. It’s much easier to click furiously away at the keyboard and delude ourselves into thinking we’ve contributed to the world in some significant way.
I want to say a couple things here ON MY BLOG:
#1 Check your facts. Emails that have been spammed out across the globe are not the voice of God above. If it sounds ridiculous, it probably is. Stop forwarding the “whoppers” that history has taught us so many are susceptible to.
#2 Look people in the eye with whom you have differences and embrace them. It’s hard to hold anger in your heart when you’re holding someone in your arms. After all, people don’t care what you really think about anything. THAT’S the truth, my friends. That is, until you’ve shown them that you really do care about them. Invite someone to dinner who voted differently than you did or prays to another God. Don’t try to convert them. Just feed them. That single act will do more to heal our land than convincing even one person that you are right and he is wrong. After all, how many people do you need to piss off before you find that one needle in the haystack? And remember, people listen a lot better on a full stomach.
#3 Do your best to develop that ability to perceive how others perceive you. This will prove most helpful in your quest to win friends and influence people. Start by realizing this: If you are one of those folks who clicks furiously away at that keyboard and e-shares with the masses the opinions that have been so enlightening to YOU or forwards every piece of Internet fodder that comes into your inbox, you should probably stop and consider one thing. At least a good portion of the population thinks you’re an idiot. They’re not listening. You can’t put something in someone’s hands if they are clenched into fists. People who want to punch you make fists. Stop making people want to punch you. Love them, be kind to them, and they will open their hands. It’s very simple. If you’re reading this and you don’t care that people think you’re an idiot, and you’re resolved that you’re going to continue to bombard the rest of us with your never-ending two cents’ worth (in the name of God or your own conventional wisdom) you ARE an idiot! Come visit me as soon as you can so I can put my arms around you, look you in the eye, and tell you to your face.
If you come a long way, I’ll feed you dinner.


Anonymous said...

Here's an opinion ... how 'bout a paragraph once in a while?

Just kidding, Daisy :)
As always, you seem to grab the pulse of what I "want" to say, but never knowing how to do so. I should just stop in the middle of an argument, point people to your blog, and say, "Read this. That's what I mean."

Loving to keep reading your adventures, missy.

Dad said...

Hey, you are right about fear being the opposite of faith. The Word admonishes us to "fear Not for i am with you slways" and also says that we "we are not given the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind". But often fear is good. We fear our little offsspring sticking a metal onject in a wall plug so we teach him to fear it as well. On saturday my grandaughter was grounded for riding her four wheeler without wearing a helmet. Was it fear she would get hurt or concern for her safety? On Sunday a 10 year old girl hit her father's car head on while riding a motorcycle without a helmet. So, perhaps no one taught her to fear the outcome of her actions. so should we not fear anything or let the world go to hell in a handbasket when we were given the good sense to try to prevent it. In the area of breaking bread with those who have different views with us is good. But when it comes to our faith, we are instructed in the Word to present our Lord to them. We cannot find in the Word a time when Jesus did not try to change those he preached to or associated with. That is what we are commissioned to do. Trying to convince them to vote like us or other trivial pursuits is so useless in comparison to winning them to the Faith. If we don't tell them who will? On other things i am not smart enough to comment on so i won't try.

Anonymous said...

Well said, my friend. Well said!


chelsi said...

Technology takes the human out of communication. To me, it is the difference between reading a book and watching a movie. A mindless regergitation of pictures colors and sounds versus a physical experience which provokes self generated emotions and reflection. God bless coffee with friends, dinner at the table, game nights, and birthday parties. Without human interaction we would all be large babies with poopy diapers and no communication skills. I love you sweetheart!

Tim Stafford said...

It would seem to me that the ontological view opposite of faith then like left and tight (also polar opposites) one could not exist without the other and so therefor have this philosophical symbiotic relationship that would lead one to ascertain that if those of faith peddle fear then it would only strengthen the faith of those in their path. So in essence if what you are postulating is true, then you would welcome the "fear peddlers" because then faith would be of even greater value, kind of like getting more "in" for the sake of strengthening "out."

Just a thought.
Don't you miss me?!

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