My third (and first for 2011) article for State of Formation is now live. I hesitated a lot with this one, as it deals pretty directly with how social media interacts with real lives. Can a blog truly change your mind? Further, can reading those thousands of comments below do anything other than force you to one pole or the other?
The piece is inspired by a blog-debacle I somewhat unwittingly found myself in the middle of last week. The whole thing, from start to finish (and beyond) left me shaky and full of self-doubt. The way we interact online when it comes to big, controversial subjects seems so utterly backwards and, often, intentionally harmful. I have found great solace in the New Testament letter to the Corinthians where the writer states that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” In this light, the internet seems like just the opposite of love, and goes to great lengths to tabulate the details of wrongs, so that they can be shoved in the face of the culprit over and over.
And yet, here I am publicizing on the very thing I doubt. Somehow, it seems important to keep doing it. So, here’s the beginning to “Webb vs. Web: In Defense of Not Being Right“:
You’re sitting at your computer trawling your daily litany of internet-check-in and networking sites, be them a flutter of tweets or tumblr-fulls of diggs and books of faces. There’s a link from someone who you suspect doesn’t share your opinion on something, be it the existence of g/God or the thickness and regionality of pizza. You know it could change the pace of your day, but you click anyway, only to find a disagreeable slice of vitriol that seems, despite its electronic anonymity, to attack the fiber of your being.
Then, it happens.
Your eyes cross, and your vision blurs. Your mind is racing, stringing sentences and ripostes together faster than your 4G network. You don’t want to respond, and thus “sink to their level,” so you get up and make coffee. But, you get distracted again and end up pouring coffee on your hand for way longer than your brain would like. “That’s it,” you say, probably out loud even. “I must say something. Justice must be upheld!” Before you know it, you’re slinging so much mud and/or being e-lynched that you don’t even recognize yourself by the end of the day.
What does it take to change a mind? Read More