You are probably wondering why I choose such an odd title for this post, but there is a method to my madness and it comes from the Bible. Proverbs 12:18 (TNIV)….
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Too often times we really don’t think about what we are saying before we say them and I know I am just as guilty as the next guy. And, unfortunately, in our world of technology where just about everything is written out it has seemed to have gotten even worse, because now all we have are our words. We can no longer see people’s body language or hear the tone in their voice. All we have is the text on our computer screens or on our phones.
I am someone who loves the technology we have and love how it has connected people together in such a cool way. I have found old (not that any of us are old) high school and college friends, and think it is so great that sites like Facebook and MySpace have helped that to happen. I have even been able to connect with other youth pastor’s from literally around the world because of Youth Ministry Exchange (YMX). But the side effect of most of those relationships that I have found again or formed anew is that it is most of it is all through the written word, so many things can be left up to interpretation when things are said. You can use emoticons, but even then it can still be misinterpreted.
I have even lost friends for some of these very reasons and had some horrible things said to me, because people can hide behind their computer screens or phones and say stuff. It is really sad but like I said it is one of the things that has come with technology. I try the best that I can to really think through what I say before I type it out and hit send. There have been a couple of times when I didn’t do that and it has really blown up in my face, so now I will often take a long time before I respond to people for that very reason. And I see it all the time on YMX, especially with the political season being upon us.
Then recently I read a story about a guy who lives in Texas that posted a story on the internet that he made to look like it had come from The Oklahoman website. This guy took the web templates header and made up a story about two quarterbacks from the University of Oklahoma that had been arrested on cocaine distribution charges. But, like I said, the story was false. This guy is claiming that he did it all as a practical joke and you can read that here. However, the problem is that it wasn’t a really funny joke because you are messing with people’s reputations and lives. In fact, one of the fathers of these quarterbacks is planning legal action against this guy and I think rightly so. You can read more about it here.
This is another part of the problem. Not only do we think we can hide behind our computer screens and do this, but we have no problems saying stupid stuff because we are “unkown”. Sadly, that is not really the case, but people find hidden courage in what they see as anonymity online.
Another case in point are email forwards. People will get a email from a friend and just believe it outright without even taking the time to check it out. Instead they will just forward it on and believe it. The funny thing is that with the internet we have the ability to easily search these things out and find out if they are true or not.
So not only do we need to put down our swords, but sometimes we need to put down our keyboards and take a deep breath before we respond or forward something on. Technology makes things faster and so we need to do our best to slow things down.