The internet is a horde, a vitriol mob of perpetual outrage. Each day elicits new battles to fight and new controversies to analyze. Competing tribes narrow the line in the sand drawn yesterday. Watchmen have stood the walls of our culture decrying and warning that the schismatic vile spewing from social media feeds both demolishes public discourse and weakens society. Though the past was not an idealized age of peace and charity we blissfully remember, we sense that something has gone awry.
The internet has brought out the worst aspects of our depravity, and you don’t even have to plunge into the abyss of the dark web to find it. The evidence of sin is on the unceasing eternity scroll of your favorite social network, from the prideful pontificating of the virtue signalers to the libelous bullying who always manage to see the worse and assume the ulterior motives of strangers. The verbal hand grenade can only be tossed around for so long before we all explode.
We ought not to be surprised that a culture that jettisons any remnant of a Christian worldview might degrade into a cultural civil war. Yet, this pattern of destructive behavior and meanness is a plague that has infected the church. Though important matters of theological converations ought to warrant debate, the public forum of Twitter is no place for the conversation. Attack blogs and tweet-storms will not do.
Christians have responded to these trends in two ways. Some have gone all in, embracing the new avenues of conversations using these social tools to recruit soldiers for the battle and building a garrison of followers to unleash as a hoard at the command of the influencer—complete with hashtags and memes. These Christians have adopted the grammar and tactics of the age in an attempt to advance the kingdom, but often in the process sully their holiness and marginalize their distinctiveness. Their efforts are admirable, but those who live by the sword die by the sword.
Others of us have gone radio silent, avoiding the combat but delighting in the carnage. They keep up with the outrage machine and inwardly rejoice when their team inflicts a wound on the opposition. Whether combatants or observers, participants or spectators, none are innocent of blood in this Colosseum.
As I reflect on my own relationship with the internet, I was filled with great optimism over what good could come from these new technologies, good that I believe has come and will continue to come. Though I’ve become more skittish about the dangers of these tools, I’m convinced of their utility, even if I struggle to trust myself to use them in a way that honors Christ. In the last few years, I’ve drifted into a role of observing rather than contributing to the online conversation. In my early twenties, I blogged consistently, following the script of platform building at the time, complete with catchy, click-enticing headlines. Over time, the game grew stale, so I invested my energy locally in my church and pursuing post-grad work.
However, my time of radio silence is coming to an end, and I hope to begin writing here again on matters of the Christian faith, the church, and culture. Though I will aim to write in a way that is edifying for all, I am not going to consume my attention with audience building. Instead, I wish to write because I must write, and I invite you to follow along as I muse and reflect on the word of God. I hope to write with an irenic and charitable tone that does not relish in engaging in the lightning rod issues of the week. Though failure awaits me, I hope to model speech that is both kind and driven by biblical conviction. Yet, grace abounds, and on it, I must rely as I reenlist in the conversation.