Ugh. I hate it when my husband and I have conversations when we completely and utterly disagree. I usually hate it because what he thinks is godly and what I think is flesh-ly – as in, of my flesh. Most recently, we disagreed about a story floating around the Internet that we personally know nothing about. I appreciate my conversations with my husband, regardless, because they get me thinking. Tonight it has me thinking about this: when on the Internet, proceed with caution.
1. On media-based coverage. When you are learning of a story for the first time from the Internet, please remember that it’s from the Internet. Which means that you likely are reading a huge portion of the story – but you are never reading the whole story. Sources have to support their belief system and what they hold to be true. They will leave out or re-configure the side that doesn’t fit in.
2. On making opinions based on one source, or one kind of source. If you find a bump on your head, you can find tons of information on it likely being cancer, especially if you are a hypochondriac. Though there may be an article out there that says the bump on your head is likely from when you hit your head on the shelf. But if you’re not looking for that – or wanting that kind of answer – you may never find it.
3. As Christians, we must remember to be gracious even with the facts we read. We aren’t supposed to be gracious only to the homeless person, but to the murderer as well. It’s a painful truth, but Jesus says that He who is without sin can cast the first stone.
Just like when you overhear your neighbors fighting or you see a beautiful person win an Emmy or a godly couple get married, you never know the full story. You just don’t. Don’t make it more than it is, don’t base “the truth” on the pieces that you know.
Why does it matter? I believe using the Internet as our exclusive source for information is a slippery slope. One that can have you sliding down the wrong side very, very fast. I remember watching the news when we lived in Dallas and being concerned that we didn’t have enough canned foods to survive the Ebola outbreak. The news used up every moment of my day explaining how disaster was nigh. That turned out to not be the full truth, and fortunately, in our case, here in the United States, it did not spread to epidemic proportion.
Be wise on the Internet. Be gracious. Err on the side of kindness and peace. And when in doubt, log out.