Once an old friend posted something on Facebook. I thought I knew why she posted it. I was fairly certain I understood her motive behind it, and I didn’t like it much. So, I hopped right over to her page and proceeded to leave a strongly worded comment that essentially made her look like she didn’t know what she was talking about.
My adrenaline was flowing. I felt like it was my duty to call her on what she had said. And, I wrote what I would never have said if she were sitting in front of me.
A few minutes later, she wrote me a private message. She was hurt. She was embarrassed. She was shocked that I would do that to her. And, when she explained the circumstances behind what she had written, they were nothing like I had imagined. Her motives had been pure. Her mission had been to glorify God. And, I had come along and made the whole thing look silly to the very people she was trying to reach.
Of course, I apologized. She was right when she said that I should’ve messaged her privately if I had something to say about it. I had acted hastily, and with nothing but assumptions to guide me.
Since that time, I have tried to be careful to maintain one rule in my dealings with people on the internet, whether they’re friends or total strangers. I try not to say anything that I wouldn’t say to someone across the dinner table.
Just try it sometime. It’s amazing how often I start typing something and then end up deleting it after asking myself, “Would I say this face to face?”
It’s a good rule of thumb for Christians on the internet, because I’m convinced that most of us don’t make it our goal to be mean or rude.
Granted, there are plenty of times when Christians need to speak out, especially when we see heresy, but I’m convinced we can do it in ways that aren’t humiliating, degrading, or nasty. Let’s be the ones to set the tone on the internet; instead of reacting, we can remain calm and well-reasoned without letting our emotions rule how we deal with people.
Even on the internet, wouldn’t it be great if the world could look at our comments and see that we are just different?