How many people do you know who’ll enter a debate honestly, open to the possibility of having their opinion changed, and are you one of them?
Among the responses I received:
“I’ve learned that nobody gets their mind changed in an online debate. Nobody.”
“That depends. Is the person I’m talking with open to having their opinion changed?”
“I think that in-person people are more willing to listen to another point of view. There’s more empathy and understanding that happens in a face-to-face conversation.”
“I’m inclined to be open and listen when the other person gives me the same courtesy. Listening with the intent to understand and not defend, is how I try to be. This exists outside social media, but social media exacerbates/exaggerates the problem.”
“Those discussions never happen on social media. People are defensive of their position and don’t have any intent to understand what someone’s truly saying.”
Two thoughtful lengthier comments:
The anonymity of an internet connection, coupled with never meeting this person in real life, has created a “less than human” category in the minds of some for online interactions. People are willing to berate and dismiss opinions of those online in a manner they never would face-to-face. The other roadblock online is when you put an opinion out there and someone responds negatively to it, they never actually want to debate the issue. They honestly feel you’re not allowed to respond to them. They directly address your viewpoint with a negative comment, but when you respond, their knee-jerk response is, “What are you, mad? I have the right to say whatever I want!” Well… yes, yes you do. Of course. But by your own logic, so then do I. So, let me get this straight – you’re allowed to respond to me, but I’m just not allowed to respond to you? Got it. A person like this is telling me they don’t have an opinion on the topic, they just want to spread their childish negativity. To them, I say, come back when you’ve formulated a lucidly cogent response.
Someone piggybacked on this observation:
Nailed it! In a similar vein, anything to do with Christianity or politics makes things even worse. Christians who voice an opinion or share a post on what they believe (on things like abortion, given as one of the more extreme examples), not only aren’t Christians allowed to respond to others, but they’re berated for voicing ANYTHING at all. Believers are scolded that they must always be “loving” (according to the reader’s understanding of what “loving” means). They’re silenced into never voicing anything, never responding to anything they feel, think, or believe – even though they feel/think/believe JUST as strongly as the opposing side. They get so bullied by others who attack their faith (even their very being!) simply because they’ve joined the conversation. They get drowned out with anger toward them as human beings (if they’re even truly considered as such), that they don’t get to have a seat at the table. They barely get to taste crumbs dropped to the floor, and when they try, they get kicked down for doing so. And we wonder, “Where are all the strong, brave people?” Sitting terrified behind the same glowing screens, like those screaming at them and cursing them for not being “loving”. I post this here, but if I post it elsewhere, people will get mad at me.
Thoughts about this from me:
Does the above commentary jive with your experience and opinion? In person have you seen better interactions than what occurs online? I agree that communication is far better in person, but even “out in the wild” it’s rare to find patient constructive dialog. I’ll always cast a vote for “Face-to-face” over “Facebook”, but I wonder if this is a problem caused by Facebook, or if Facebook is merely exposing a larger problem in society. Certainly, the words shared above by others contain many good observations. If we actually know a person, then we might discover we actually like them, and so we might behave more politely. Although, I must admit I’ve become jaded, so it also occurs to me that in some cases our experience is that it’s harder to like someone after we get to know them better. Regardless, we’re to love our neighbor anyway.
Living in a World of Make Believe
People invent stories, disregard facts, ignore truth, and draw conclusions from information purposely selected to misinform others. Below is an example of a fake occurrence (built upon actual historical facts) that serves to illustrate the point. Imagine this is a transcript of a talking-head cable TV show, with the host commenting on what’s claimed to be a clear case of collusion:
“In September of 1992 the Chicago Bears defeated the Atlanta Falcons for one of their rare wins that season. What’s more, the Bears scored more points in that game than in any of their other games that year, providing a glimpse into just how much Mike Ditka hates birds. Later that season the Mike-Ditka-coached-Bears suffered one of their worst defeats of the year. The opponent? The Houston Oilers. This created a loathsome attitude toward the entire petroleum industry by none other than – you guessed it – Mike Ditka. Fast forward one month. On January 5th, 1993 the oil tanker MV Braer ran aground on the coast of the Shetland Islands, spilling 84,700 tons of crude oil. The environmental damage was mysteriously limited to mostly the killing of birds. Is all of this mere coincidence? You decide. Mike Ditka hates birds, so he crushes the Falcons, and then murders feathered fowl by way of a shipping disaster. Mike Ditka is humiliated by the Oilers, and then an oil tanker ‘accidentally’ runs aground. Need more? Here it is. On January 5th, 1993 (the same day the oil spill occurred) the Chicago Bears fired – wait for it – Da Coach Mike Ditka. Bam! Stay tuned for our hour-long exclusive expose tonight at 11pm.”
A story like this would’ve seemed insane a few years ago. Now this sort of nonsense passes for news and is what drives the opinions of government agencies. Discernment derived from a biblically informed worldview has never been more important than right now.
Oklahoma House Declares Abortion Murder
Remember this news item? It was much celebrated at the time.
There’re several problems with this happening. One, a resolution isn’t a law. Two, the political will for following through on such a “statement of purpose” is sorely lacking in the current American generation. Three, no state assembly truly makes such a declaration as though the truth depends on their opinion – at best what they do is provide an affirmation of what the God of the Bible has already declared to be true. (I saved the best and strongest point for last).
Doing Good to All
An out-of-the-blue sharing of the powerful Word of God was posted on social media. It uplifted and edified me, so I share it with you. Galatians 6:1-6.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the Word should share all good things with their instructor.
My friend added, “I believe this Scripture’s written with the belief that no one’s perfect, and there’ll be a day each of us will find ourselves on each side of the situation – then you’ll know who lives by the Word – when it’s hard, and not only when it’s comfortable. Certainly, something for all to think about.”
Isaiah 55:7 ESV
Right after seeing the above Word from God, another friend posted this:
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Keep sharing the Truth. Everywhere. The Word never returns void.
This is from yet another friend:
God uses pain/weakness/affliction as His chisel for sculpting our lives. Weakness deepens our dependence on Christ for strength each day. THE WEAKER WE FEEL, THE HARDER WE LEAN. In these moments I lean on faith, and feel peace knowing He’s in control.
Random Thoughts of the Day
One of the worst things about Westboro Baptist Church is that they call themselves a “Baptist Church”. They’re neither. Not Baptist. Nor a true church (at least not one that’s based upon biblical Christian teaching).
Two random article links were sent to me that are actually interesting. One is about generational divides between Boomers, Xers, and Millennials. One is about the benefits of dad’s being sacrificial (even laying down the pursuit of personal dreams).
Here’s a random link to a movie clip (an all-time great inspirational movie scene!) and a random quote from Tool, “All I knew and all I believed are crumbling images that no longer comfort me. I scramble to reach higher ground, some order and sanity, or something to comfort me.” I immediately thought in response, “This is a reminder to not put our hopes in unsatisfying things.”
Speaking of random, someone sent this. “Obi-won Kenobi… is not Jesus.” True. True.
“Have a wonderful day. Don’t stay here when God’s calling you there. The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You’ve stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance.’ (Deuteronomy 1:6-7)”
Leaving a Quote for You at the Bottom as a “PS”
“Our country is now geared towards an arms economy which was bred in an artificially-induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.” – General Douglas McArthur (You can tell this is an older quote by all the multi-syllable words. The pagan-educated American of today doesn’t come close to speaking like this).
God bless you friend. Always remember – Obi-won Kenobi is not Jesus.
Many blessings to you,
Pastor Troy Skinner