Internet Decorum

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by greenbaggins, Nov 21, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I haven't been on the internet for very long, although in today's super-fast informational Autobahn, 5 years is an eternity. In those 5 years, however, I've noticed some things about internet discussions, both in my own behavior, and in that of others. But the most distressing things are two-fold: one is a complete lack of decorum in the sense of tact, politeness, and generosity, especially regarding positions that differ from ours. The other is a distressing tendency to hit "post" before the brain actually ever engages in terms of the consequences of the post. I have some thoughts about this, in no particular order.

    1. Never say anything about anyone else that you wouldn't be comfortable saying to them in person. This simple rule would probably eliminate 90% of internet fracases.

    2. Consider that the entire world can read what you wrote, most of the time. On the PB, we do have members only sectors, but those should still be treated as an open book. There is such a thing as copy and paste.

    3. Consider that no one can review what you wrote in most cases. This is not peer-reviewed scholarship, most of the time, at least before it is posted. It might become reviewed afterwards, but it it isn't beforehand.

    4. Ask yourself this question: does this post guard and protect my internet neighbor's good name? The internet has a huge potential for good or harm, more so than almost any other media except television, and it's giving TV a run for its money. Everything is simply out there.

    5. Have I thought through the implications of what will happen after I hit the
    "post" button? Imagine the reaction of the person it most highly affects. Try to see the issue from the other person's shoes.

    6. Have I loved this person through what I am saying to that person? Never write a post in anger. If you are angry with something that someone else has written, do not reply until you can write with a cool head. Otherwise, you will almost certainly overstate the case, thus polarizing the other person into a defensive mode.
  2. calvinich

    calvinich Puritan Board Freshman

    Great, helpful thoughts.

    In this regard, I've always thought about those crazy people who have a bad experience at some church and then go and create a whole blog or website just to spill the beans and get all specific. But what they don't realize is that by bringing their enemies down, they are bringing themselves down likewise. A wise person knows when to speak and when to just be quiet.

    Pick any random well-know church leader, and you will find at least a few expose sites like this about them. And, often, even if I grant that the leader being accused is in error or has sinned, I often find myself thinking: I would pretty much rather fall into the leader's error than be fall into the venomous hatred and bitterness of the expose websites. We could possibly plead ignorance in regard to error, but we cannot plead ignorance in venomous attacks and hatred.

    But we all can fall into this sort of thing. As soon as we lose perspective of the value of someone's name, we can easily fall into the trap of purposely and sinfully dirtying a persons name (and apart from the potential of lies, misunderstandings, and slander...even if they are actually in error, we do not have a right to sinfully dirty their name and speak of them in an unchristian way).

    A big aspect implicit in #1, 4, and 6 lies not only in what we say directly about others, but also in our discretion in terms of how we use what other people have written, said, etc. Many a person puts their foot in their mouth by using information that is invalid, distorted, or generally questionable. And for passing on information based on some sort of supposed "authority" without taking some reasonable measure to validate its authenticity and accuracy. Many people who live off of saying foolish things depend on other foolish people to spread their rubbish without discretion.
  3. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Great topic! I was just going to start a thread on an aspect of this very thing, particularly:

    In the "Contraception" thread, I came off looking like a total WOF-er because apparently I figured that you all could see the other 99 thoughts that accompanied the 1 thought that I managed to stutter out on the keyboard before I posted it. Especially when discussions are hot and heavy, it is perhaps wiser to back away from the keyboard for a while than to die on every hill that presents itself in a discussion.

  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I should have added a couple more things to the list:

    7. Will what I'm going to say actually help other people, or am I just setting myself up to be a great professor of knowledge, or man-pleaser, or know-it-all?

    8. Is what I'm going to say on the topic, or is it rabbit-trailing (sniff, sniff, nibble, nibble)?
  5. Wanderer

    Wanderer Puritan Board Freshman

    I would agree with much of what Greenbaggins say. You should always consider your words before you publish.

    However, if you have considered your words, and you have confronted the person, and you have taken the matter to the church, and you feel confident that they will stand in the light of God's word, and you feel your heart is right then publish.

    With that said, I give you some words from John Calvin:

    A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent. - John Calvin

    Also I give you another quote as to why John Calvin wrote the Christian Institutes:

    "Observing that the object which these instruments of the court aimed at by their disguises was not only that the disgrace of shedding so much innocent blood might remain buried under false charges and calumnies which they brought against the holy martyrs after their death, but also that afterwards they might be able to proceed to the utmost extremity in murdering the poor saints without exciting compassion towards them in the breasts of any, it appeared to me that unless I opposed them to the utmost of my ability, my silence could not be vindicated from the charge of cowardice and treachery. This was the consideration which induced me to publish my Institutes of the Christian Religion. My objects were, first, to prove that these reports were false and calumnious, and thus to vindicate my brethren, whose death was precious in the sight of the Lord; and next, that as the same cruelties might very soon after be exercised against many unhappy individuals, foreign nations might be touched with at least some compassion towards them and solicitude about them." -John Calvin
  6. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I don't know if you read me this way, but I certainly don't intend to say that truth should be muzzled. It never should be. But that isn't the problem I am addressing in this thread. I am addressing people who might very well think that they are defending orthodoxy, but are doing so in a way that compromises charity, quite apart from the question of whether they are actually defending the truth or not. Neither truth nor love is more fundamental than the other. The Bible that tells us that God is love is the same Bible that tells us that God is light. And I don't care how much the truth is being attacked, we should not lash out in personal anger in defending the truth. There is a place for righteous anger, to be sure. But it is very difficult to discern in one's own heart whether one is saying something out of righteous anger, or out of selfish anger. This is especially true if one's emotions get involved.
  7. Timothy William

    Timothy William Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for adding these. They are both sins I am guilty of. Number 8 more than number 7 on the PB, because I cannot show off knowledge here when so many others know so much more than me, but I am guilty of this at church, on other internet sites, etc.
  8. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    I agree wholeheartedly with what Lane has said.

    I'm almost certain that had the internet had been around in the Apostle Paul's day he would have included internet communication in his admonition in 1 Corinthian 13.

    [bible]1 Corinthians 13:1-7[/bible]

    Just a thought....
  9. Calvin87

    Calvin87 Puritan Board Freshman

    I totally agree.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page