I spend a good deal of time perusing the internet. There is a wealth of information out there to be had, as well as communities of people with common interests. There is just about every kind of community, or “board” you can imagine. Faith, Fashion, Food, Health, Animals, Lifestyles, Sports, Humor, Education etc. There are folks who flock to these forums to share both their needs and their experience. Being 5 hours from town isn’t a hardship to me, because by nature, I have always been pretty much a loner. My life experience has found an awful lot of people who just aren’t very nice and my own company, or the company of my animals is a lot more edifying. My circle of friends is rather small, both in person and on the internet. Those whom I do consider friends I think very highly of, regardless of their age, gender, or location. I have met some great folks that use their access to the internet well and wisely, being positive, supporting others and providing good fellowship, advice and enjoyable interactions.
Then there are the self proclaimed experts, who are certain that no one else is capable of accumulating the amount of knowledge, experience or good sense they themselves own, and consider every other person, forum or idea on the web to be a threat. Then there is the odd one who, for reasons I cannot fathom, choose to use their words to wound, accuse and/or condemn. One would think that, because the relationship is long distance, superficial and only through the computer, that a verbal attack or flaming by someone shouldn’t affect us, or that we can just click them off. That’s all true, but I find it’s not all that simple.
James spoke about the power of the tongue, how it can tear down and destroy, or build up. Bruises heal and are no longer seen, but words sink deep into the heart or psyche and they scar much more easily. I would like to say, we should always be careful how we speak, that we don’t use our words as weapons to injure another. But on the internet, I think we need to be doubly cautious. Without the facial and audible cues of how something is being delivered, our words can often be misunderstood. In addition to this, unlike the spoken word, what is written is right there in black and white, powerful and public. It can be devastating to the recipient.
We don’t know why any given person is on our forum, or chat room, or wherever it is you might congregate, perhaps they are alone and desperately need to reach out to someone. Maybe they are ill and could use some comfort. Perhaps it is someone who needs to be needed and a rebuff can send them into a tail spin and you wouldn’t even know it. We can be floating along in our own lives, poisoning others, merely by being careless.
I implore you, to choose your words wisely. Better yet, read James 3. I couldn’t agree with anything more, or say it any better.
You have my word on it.