I work on the internet. Rather than a technical job, mine is almost like a sociologist, observing how people behave and use the internet, especially to interact. Let's just say I have some experience in observing online behavior. These are some things I've seen that are "part of the job" for me as a marketer, but deeply concern me as a Christian.
And from this I have concluded that the internet is one of the the biggest temptation sinkholes for Christians.
Nope, not talking about p0rn0graphy. Not online gambling or even internet addiction. I'm talking about sins much more subtle than those. These are the sneaky sins that bubble to the top of Christians' internet usage which we overlook or accept.
Let me preface that I have struggled with all these, and some I still do, although my job has been therapeutic for many of these since I see the bad fruit of them daily.
No, you may not be spreading stories about people online, but do you read tabloid blogs? You are giving them your attention and mind share. And frankly, each time you visit you are putting money in their pockets by triggering the ads on their site. Might as well buy the Enquirer. They are profiting from your curiosity.
Remember my Facebook sabbatical? I also touched on this there. Maybe you're not telling stories about people, but do you try to put together pieces of their private lives from what you "overhear" online?
Here's another- do you spread information without making sure it's factual? This happens often in email. Snopes.com is a great resource to make sure what you're saying is true. Take a second to check before you pass it on.
Blogging hit mainstream about 5-6 years ago. With blogging people found an easy way to express their thoughts to virtually the whole world. In some ways this is a powerful, unifying tool. But as with any good thing, Satan is able to counterfeit it to use it for evil.
I manage our university bloggers, and this year I've added a clause in my guidelines about passive aggression. I shouldn't have to, but because of the example set by so many people in "the world" AND "the Church", I felt I should. I basically state- "If you have a problem with someone, you will not use your blog as a vehicle to vent or rant against them. You will deal with them as the Bible instructs in Matthew 18. I will be more than glad to walk through that with you."
Do you write things for an audience about a person, a business, an organization that you wouldn't say to their face? Do you handle conflicts in a manner worthy of Christ, or do you do publicly disgrace them? (This is one I struggle against daily and still fall into; Twitter is like a petri dish for this right now in the name of "customer support".)
And here's one I see a lot. Do you anonymously comment on blogs and say things that you would never attach your name to? If you won't attach your name, then you need to seriously re-think what you're saying. Seriously.
I work in marketing, which is the hub of self-promotion and self-righteousness. Well, I guess it rivals ministry in that way. Heh... sad joke.
Anyway, it's good to have healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, but to call someone out for the purpose of making yourself look better is not right. It is pride in its purist form. Again, I touched on this in my last blog about a balanced work ethic. Pride and humility are enemies. You can't serve two masters.
In conclusion (wow this is a long blog), my advice to you would be the same as what I'm constantly reminding myself (with varying degrees of success depending on the day and my mood).
If you hesitate, don't post it.
If you wouldn't say it in person, don't type it.
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. :)
Sorry to ride the soap box, but this is what I deal with day in and day out and has been heavy on my heart lately. Sometimes the whole "being in the world but not of it" is hard!
What do you think? Am I the only one who struggles with these? Did I forget any that are common?
Let's hold ourselves to accountability and honor God with how we conduct ourselves online.