My day begins fairly early, not quite as early as when I had dairy cows, but still pretty early. Shelli leaves for work around 6:30 and that means I have time in the morning to do some reading, exercise, and catch up on the news. Most of the time that means spending time on the computer because that’s where I read the newspapers.
But online newspapers come with a “Pandora’s Box” called the “comment section”. I have told myself to stay away but eventually I am led back into temptation. On larger newspapers, where comments are curated and approved, they can be instructional especially when they take a viewpoint I hadn’t thought of. Occasionally I make my own comments but I have to wonder if I’m not really looking for “likes” and affirmation from others instead of engaging in a conversation. Because the fact of the matter is that online posts and comments are not “conversation” in any kind of traditional sense.
This makes me wonder about the question in the title, “Would Jesus have Facebook?” Social media was originally thought to be a mechanism for sharing of broad viewpoints and interacting with people all over the world. In this way, walls of misinformation and misunderstanding might be brought down. Is this not at least in part what Jesus calls us to do?
But with the advent of things like honest to goodness “fake news” where stories are made up with salacious headlines just to generate internet traffic (and the ad revenue that comes with it) what is a Jesus follower to do? Should we stay off the internet? Should we vigorously defend the truth as we know it? Should we try to just get along? Should we risk upsetting our ‘friends’ when we know something they post just isn’t right?
A “friend” of mine, a person I know from my hometown, recently posted a horrific headline about Muslims ripping a person “limb from limb” for blaspheming the Quran. I’m not sure if that is “fake news” or not. A number of comments followed, all arguing this is why we need to keep “those refugees” out of the country and prevent them from bringing their Shira law with them.
I wanted to respond first: Even if such gruesomeness is true, all the refugees I know are FLEEING from that kind of violence, not perpetuating it.
And second: In the Hebrew bible, sacred and inspired words to both Jews and Christians, three men survive being thrown in a fiery furnace for their devotion to the God of Israel. In Daniel 3:29 the king who sees this miraculous rescue says, “Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” History will go on to demonstrate that there is no religion that can claim clean hands regarding brutality and violence.
So what should I say to my “friend” if anything? How are we ‘salt’ and ‘light’ for the world as we interact online?
I invite your comments.