Blogging is more real than we realize


Blogging is more real than we realize
The Christian blogging community is starting to look a lot like traditional community.  I’ve often thought that in certain ways people are more themselves online than they are offline.  If you have ever put on the audio head set for an X-Box live game you’ll quickly realize that many video game players are rude, vulgar, insensitive and mean.  There is no fear of reprisal sitting in your living room miles away from the people you are playing against.  There is nothing holding you back from saying what you are truly thinking.  Teenagers often think some very terrible things. 

There is more accountability in blogging than there is on X-Box live.  We all have static web addresses and most of us allow for comments.  Reprisal is a more tangible possibility but it isn’t enough to keep people from saying some very nasty things.  Unfortunately what we say when we aren’t afraid of reprisal is a very accurate refection of our character.  The nastiness, division and strife occurring in the Christian blogging community reflects the character of those who blog. 

In “analog” community we are somewhat insulated from our true nature because most of us hide it.  Much of the infighting and politics in our institutions are hidden from view.  Sometimes the accountability structures we create actually hide sin in an effort to protect the institution.  The reason is simple, if most of us knew the dark nature of what transpires in our faith communities we would lose faith in our institutions. 

Many of my personal friends who have entered vocational ministry lasted only a few years.  The reasons are complicated and have been the subject of debate.  Many of the people that I know were not prepared for how carnal some of the people in their church were.  When they entered ministry they moved from the outer circle to the inner circle where far fewer things are hidden from view.  It is very common for people to become disillusioned when they see the dark side of their faith community.

I believe the same kind of disillusionment is beginning to happen online.  I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half and I’ve already be labelled a hypocrite, immature and a cry baby.  I have friends that have endured far worse.  However I still believe in this form of Christian community just as I still believe in the church.  I refuse to let the dark nature of humanity eclipse the good that can be found in sharing our thoughts and stories. 

  1. #1 by MItch Tulloch on August 30, 2003 - 1:01 pm

    Leighton:

    I found your blog recently through my friend Rob McAlpine’s new blog and although I probably won’t agree with everything you have to say, I *do* respect your courage to speak what’s in your heart. So keep up the good work and don’t give up! :)

    As for the idea of people being more “themselves” in their blogs than when they’re face to face, I think you may have something there. Personally I like the Internet, and email in particular, because it provides the same kind of distance as letter writing used to and thus gives me time to weigh my response, compose my thoughts, and then review them before I irrevocably click Send or Submit. When I’m on the telephone or face-to-face though, I’m often tense about what to say, react to strong emotion in the other person by freezing up, and regret afterwards what I said or didn’t say.

    On the other hand, maybe blogging doesn’t reveal the real me though, since it obviously helps me hide my insecurities and control my emotions! ;)

    My main frustration concerning asynchronous communication methods like email and blogging though is that it’s easy to express thoughts but hard to get to know the person behind them. So having invaded your blog in the last few days with my comments, I’ll just mention offhand that I’m a 49-year old computer book author who got saved at university 27 years ago while studying Physics when he was a neurotically lonely young man who intellectualized everything and eventually found his way into the Vineyard after wandering through first Evalgelical then Charismatic churches while struggling to find his so-called ministry or calling and failing as a church planter but growing tremendously through failure once over the bitterness and now at last is experiencing some degree of contentment and sense of direction but why so late but better late than never–in case you’re interested.

    If not, no worries :)

  2. #2 by Markio on August 30, 2003 - 2:24 pm

    I’m not sure if I would say that people hide their true selves to save an instution. The institution being saved is a biproduct of our self-preservation. In the Christian community we know that we are to be Christlike, loving, kind and full of the fruit the Spirit can create through our lives. We hide who we are because we are scared that people will realize that we are far less than we ought to be. We are scared to be exposed. At least enough people are that you can very easily be blidesided by the carnality of those who call themselves Christian (many of whom are simply immature in Christ in spite of their years of being a part of the faith community).

    We can not hide it forever, no matter how we try. Some will release it on the internet because they can remain “safe” but there is no one that can have significant interaction in a fully live community that will not have their sins manifest. It is the fact that we hold no one accountable in these situations that keeps unhealthy institutions unhealthy.

    Bruce talked about “the elephant in the room” the other day. The thing that is obvious to everyone but no one wants to talk about. Our sin is part of that, institutional sin and individual sin. I think that you are one who will receive flak because you will talk about the elephat in the room.

  3. #3 by Jadon on August 30, 2003 - 2:35 pm

    No kidding, Leighton! I think part of it is that Christians need to unwind from their frustating attempts to be authentic in church and around Christians. But I agree that it gets too easy to be dismissive and mean when there’s distance. Unfortunately, there’s also the expectation amongst Christians to be “nice” and “kind” when in each other’s company. There’s got to be some type of balance, and the lack of it with some Christians who blog (and I’m sure I’m one of them) or comment doesn’t make it easier.

    That’s why I like the Door Magazine’s Chat Closet (heck, The Door Magazine too!). Even though there’s some heat, it’s easier to be real there. I’d rather go there everyday than most Bible studies.

  4. #4 by Leighton Tebay on August 30, 2003 - 5:28 pm

    Mark:

    Actually I don’t believe said people hide their true selves to save an institution. The reasons you cite are accurate. In addition to what you mention I think people are apprehensive about being genuine because there is a lack of trust.

    I believe that the structures we create (like church boards) actually cover up or gloss over the difficulties in church community in order to preserve the institution. I know that there is a Christian leader in Saskatoon who has lost the faith of his board because he has clearly demonstrated a lack of integrity. The other leaders won’t fully address this persons sin because if they did it might create division and kill the institution.

  5. #5 by Leighton Tebay on August 30, 2003 - 5:31 pm

    Mitch:

    I think that it would pretty difficult to find one medium that would reveal all of who we are.

  6. #6 by markio on August 30, 2003 - 7:04 pm

    You are right LT. You were referring to accountability structures protecting the institution. Which is a good observation.

  7. #7 by little bear on September 1, 2003 - 6:58 pm

    At this point in my life I’d have to say that I find more “community” online than I do at my church. This may be due to issues that have stood between me and my church, however, I’d have to agree that I am more myself when online than I am when surrounded by people, which is maybe why my communication with those I know online is so much more fulfilling. Although I’d like to draw attention to the problem with blogging, and that is that one’s writing can often be misunderstood, and a person’s intentions misinterpreted, which perhaps provides a more volatile atmosphere.

  8. #8 by lookin on September 1, 2003 - 11:38 pm

    Leighton,

    This is the first exposure I’ve had to “blogging”, and only discovered that there was such a thing through the 8/30 issue of the Dallas Morning News.

    I’ve gotten tired of the chat room communications because of the chaotic ramblings coming from so many perspectives and motives. I like e-mail communications, but that lacks the open forum that is seen here. lookin

    On the subject of the protecting of institutions, I’ve learned from experience that public sin needs to be dealt with publicly, and private sin, privately. However, a board member who walks in sin would definitely be a difficult problem if he doesn’t decide to act responsibly. I’d say, just pray for him……..until. And even let him know that you are so that he won’t feel as isolated as the devil wants him to feel. We aren’t ignorant of his devices. And one of his main devices is to divide, then were conquered.

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