its so easy for people to become disconnected online with the person they are face to face, especially when you anonymity can be kept complete under wraps. But how does that affect our ability to live and act as we should do? Can we mask our profile to suit what we want others to see, even if the way we interact with others doesn’t match? Is digital integrity not as important?
We now have one of the greatest opportunities to be hypocrites in the history of mankind. Think about the scale of our hypocrisy these days. Thirty years ago, your dad interacted with maybe 200 people in a given month. He knew people at work, in his family, his town and in his church. If he wanted to be a jerk to large groups of complete strangers, it was pretty difficult. I guess he could have printed up a newsletter or called a radio show but even then, that would take a lot of effort.
Now though, in the time you and I occupy, it’s so much easier.
We can proclaim Christ with our (digital) lips and then deny him with our (digital) lifestyle faster than any other previous generation and to more people than our parents would have ever dreamed! (Head nod to Brennan Manning and DC Talk’s What if I stumble.)
If this concerns you at all, it should. The damage we Christians can do with the Internet is unbelievable.
I’d love to think this blog post will radically change the world, but I am making my own images these days and they are just horrible. (A sunset has nothing to do with this post. Just ridiculous.)
Not everyone who reads this will give up their hypocritical ways.
So, if you want to be a hypocrite online, at least do these three things:
1. Strip your Christianity from your profiles.
My friend had an Ichthus magnet on his car. Eventually, he felt bad about his driving habits, as he was prone to speeding and cutting people off. So he took the Jesus fish off his car because it was a bad witness. Could he have instead, driven better? Might that have been the better long-term solution? Definitely. But maybe you’re not ready for that. Just promise me you’ll fire Jesus from your twitter bio and facebook page. Get rid of the following words: “Love, Jesus, God, faith, grace, brokenness, forgiveness, etc.”
2. At least admit you don’t know the person.
A Christian recently emailed me to tell me he was unfollowing me on Facebook because he no longer liked me. As a Christian, it’s on me to apologize if I did something that personally attacked you as an individual.” Just so we’re clear, it was certainly possible that I had met him and was a jerk. I am an idiot, often. (It will not be difficult for you to find some way that I have been a hypocrite.) But as it turned out, I hadn’t, which he confirmed when he responded and continued to tell me how lame I am. We hadn’t met. We hadn’t talked on the phone. We hadn’t texted. We hadn’t skyped. But the dirty thrill of the Internet is that it gives you the opportunity to be mean to people you’ve never met. Why? Well, Jimmy Kimmel summed it up nicely. “In person people are nice, because you can punch them in person. Online they’re not nice because you can’t.” If you’re going to write something mean about someone online, at least preface it with, “I have never met this person, talked with them or had any personal engagement with them despite the personal attack I am about to launch.”
3. Just be consistent.
In the first year of writing Stuff Christians Like, I didn’t really understand the difference between mockery and satire. Here’s what I’ve come to 6 years later. The goal of satire is to share humor with a purpose, the goal of mockery is to cause a wound. Mockery always has a victim and sometimes not a point other than pain. Granted, mockery is a fast way to get a laugh. Read some of the old posts on this site, I was definitely writing more from a place of mockery. But what I learned was that mockery is a great shortcut to a laugh now, but it removes your ability to speak in love later. And the love later mattered more to me. (Also, God is pretty clear about his feelings about mockery in the book of Proverbs.) That’s why I try to write about issues, not individuals. When I write about issues, folks show up and have a rich discussion from a lot of different angles. When I write about individuals, sharks show up at the smell of blood in the water. Are you going to make mistakes at this? Sure. But know this, you’ve got a choice. You can attack people or you can love people. Just be consistent.
I hope these tips help if you decide to go deeper into the wondrous world of hypocrisy. Or you can do the opposite and just be kind online. Hopefully, you’ve never even bumped into someone mean online. I know people like that.