Recently, I had my bona-fides as a Christian professional called into internet question.
folks started blowin’ up my Facebook wall with paragraph length responses heavy on Biblical citations and light on punctuation BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS TO TAKE A STAND AND, ERIC, IF YOU AREN’T GOING TO THEN I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE TASTE OF TIGHTLY-REASONED-3:00AM-SLAM-POETRY.
Normally I love a good pitchfork and torch internet inquisition, if only because it finally affords me the opportunity to get to the bottom of just what exactly my old college roommate thought he was doing when he posted that Buzzfeed list mocking Ted Cruz’s love of our lord and savior Jesus Christ’s blinding hatred of immigrants.
“Derrick, I know we haven’t spoken since Econ301, but that’s not gonna keep me from verbally disemboweling you for of your cousins who live in Kentucky to see on Facebook. And, I’m still praying for you.”
However, as a coward unwilling to stand up and be an internet man in the name of internet Jesus, I’m not altogether certain our ceaseless arguing and linking and posting and liking and tweeting and defending and blogging has managed to produce a concrete result in the lived experience of actual humans in the actual world.
But that, again, could be the cowardice talking.
“Facebook is the opiate of the masses.”
-Karl Marx (sort-of)
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me how brave I am for writing something they agreed with on the internet.*
(*Actually, that was hyperbole. I can tell you that this number is greater than 1 and less than 4.)
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me how wrongheaded I am for writing something they disagreed with on the internet.*
I can’t tell you how many times either one of these responses failed to change anything about the way I live in my world or the way you live in yours.
Instead, what I have found is that it’s far easier to construct an existence online that requires little more from us than giving keyboard assent to the views and ideas that, largely, languish unused on the shelves of all the moments in-between our endless scrolling.
But, really, who can blame us?
Personally, I rather like the idea that the dissonance between who I think I am and who I actually am can quickly be dissolved by linking a few articles and writing a few blogs about systemic inequality in my country without actually having to change anything about where I live, where I’ll send my kid to school, or even the way I spend my money or my time.
Or, that what truly ends global slavery is, in fact, my profile picture.
Or, that what a world increasingly besieged by sectarian violence truly needs is a viral video featuring a camouflaged reality star “putting militant Islam in its place once and for all”.
Ultimately, my absolute favorite thing may be that, even in the midst of desperate calls for bravery and heroic acts of courage on behalf of a vulnerable and fledgling ancient global faith besieged by growing secularity, all that’s really required of me to ensure divine favor and everlasting joy is simply to retweet the rhetorical quips of Christians with the largest media footprint in an effort to tip the cosmic scales in my tribe’s favor.
Or, as Jesus so presciently put it:
“Go, ye, therefore and make followers of all nations.
Spamming them in the name of the Father,
the Son, and thy Klout score.”
Lately, I’ve found I don’t quite have the stomach for internet heroics.
I suppose I’ve grown tired of being brave only in the ways actors-who-lost-40-pounds-in-order-to-play-a-brave-person-on-TV, are brave.
It isn’t brave to be a Democrat or a Republican on the internet.
It isn’t brave to be a Christian or an atheist on the internet.
It isn’t brave to be an advocate for or a strident opponent of the gay community on the internet.
And, finally, it isn’t brave to be anything on the internet.
In my experience, bravery and cowardice can only be uncovered in the nooks and crannies of the rubble that makes up most of our analog relationships, dreams, hopes, fears and faiths
whatever they may be.
So, if you must tweet,
if you must post,
if you must comment,
and if you must share,
by all means,
Just make sure you’ve left enough in the tank for the moments and people and experiences requiring actual faith, hope and love.