The Internet Doesn’t Slander People. People Slander People.

The social media world has been pretty heated these past few months. A church I had been involved with for a few years wound up in a church politics situation that got very ugly. I didn’t mind that people were discussing the situation; discussion can be healthy. But grown adults were acting like junior high kids. Now the internet is abuzz with people praising and opposing the whole situation with Hobby Lobby. (Google it if you’re not in the loop. I’m too frustrated and worn out to get into it here.) As social media gets more accessible and more user-friendly, we’re taking “freedom of speech” to new heights, to put it mildly.

I had a particular situation awhile back where I posted a blog entry and someone I was friends with at the time wrote an extremely inappropriate comment. This person had crossed the line between disagreement and hate speech. I could not leave that comment on the internet with a clear conscience, so I deleted it and wrote a message to my friend explaining why I had to do so. He wrote back that this wasn’t the first time a blog or group administrator had removed his posts, and why couldn’t anyone stand to hear from someone with a different viewpoint? Well, after hearing more about what was going on in his personal life at the time, I realized he had some serious character issues that had nothing to do with me or anyone else, and it had everything to do with him.

I’m going to say that part again: The internet was not to blame for his behavior. The internet cannot be responsible for hate speech any more than bricks can be responsible for the construction of death camps. What he wrote was a reflection of what was already in his heart.

I’ve read a lot of articles and posts pertaining to the recent Hobby Lobby kerfuffle. My absolute favorite actually opposes my personal viewpoint of the situation. It’s my favorite because the author is not out to slander anyone but is sharing her viewpoint in a well-articulated, gracious manner, and I don’t feel like she would wish me ill if she knew I respectfully disagreed. She used the internet positively because she is a woman of excellent character.

Who we are off-line is who we are going to be online. The internet doesn’t slander people. People slander people.

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