Friday, February 15, 2013

The Dangerous Side of Internet Comments

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Many are aware of a past controversy surrounding Ken Ham and the organizer of the home school conventions he was "disinvited" from, especially regarding Mr. Ham's Internet postings relating to that disagreement.[1] You may have also heard about a Methodist minister, Chad Holtz, who was fired after giving favorable comments on Facebook regarding Rob Bell's beliefs about Hell.[2] You will notice the one thing these two disputes have in common is instantaneous global opinion publishing, otherwise known as Comments.

There's an interesting book called The Long Tail by Chris Anderson which may explain what may be at work here:
Since nothing on the Web is authoritative, it is up to you to consult enough sources so that you can make up your own mind. This is the end of spoon-fed orthodoxy and infallible institutions, and the rise of messy mosaics of information that require--and reward--investigation. The sixties told us to question authority [AS DID THE REFORMATION OF THE CHURCH], but they didn't provide us with the tools to do so. Now we have those tools. The question today is how best to use them without becoming overwhelmed by uncertainty. (pp. 190-191) 
Along with call-in radio programs, the option to leave comments just about everywhere on the Web seems to have given everyone the ability to become an expert in his own eyes. We're all armchair coaches, generals, presidents, and preachers.

However, the dangerous side of that is, especially when you post your opinions online, you open yourself up to everyone else in the world having an opinion about your opinion. Every time you hit Send you run the risk of losing your friends, your job, even your marriage. Just one ill-written email or Facebook status update could spell the ruin of your own life and/or the lives of others.

I came so close to this one time it makes me shudder to recall it.

May the Lord remind us of His Word...
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak [slow to leave comments!], slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:19, 20)
...and grant us His grace to consider what we say before we hit Send.

[1], "Kicked Out of Two Homeschool Conferences," (March 22, 2011)

[2], Lukas I. Alpert, "Chad Holtz, Methodist Church pastor in North Carolina, fired for questioning whether hell exists,"