This week I'm trying to get a lot of grading done for MODG so my husband volunteered to do a guest post! So without further ado...
I love social media. I really do. I love being able to keep in touch with people that we don’t get to see anymore for a wide variety of reasons. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Deviantart, am on XBOX Live and dabble in any number of lesser social media apps. I enjoy keeping up with my friends’ lives and both Susana and I have had many requests to keep our friends updated on ours.
It’s one of the beautiful benefits of having a mommy-blogger for a wife. I can point friends and family to baristamommy.com for the most recent updates on what’s going on with us, not to mention the newest pics of Peter and James. We, as a couple, have never been what you would call “private”. Our dating was pretty consistently public and social (all the better to help us keep our courtship chaste), I proposed in front of 50ish people at an XLT event, and our wedding itself had a pretty huge guest list and an open invite to the youth group I help to lead. So, we are a very public couple and we definitely use social media to share our lives with others.
There are definitely the annoying aspects of social media to contend with (no, I don’t want to play Bubble Witch Saga), but I feel that probably the most awful thing that’s come from the Internet is the concept of “online anonymity”.
It’s said, “internet anonymity brings out the worst in people” and unfortunately, I believe that’s true. These trolls use the anonymity of the internet to say terrible things and make people feel crappy, all the while reveling that they don’t have to deal with any of the normal, human repercussions to saying mean things. Louis CK (a hilariously inappropriate comedian) was on Conan last September and said it pretty well:
"Kids are mean, and it's because they're trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, 'You're fat.' And then they see the kid's face scrunch up and say, 'Ooh, that doesn't feel good to make a person do that.' But they gotta start with doing the mean thing. But when they write, 'You're fat' [on social media], then they just go, 'Mmm, that was fun, I like that.'" [link to video]
As a note: anonymity in cases of asking questions one doesn’t feel comfortable with being connected to but still wanting an answer to or something of that sort isn’t what we’re talking about. The anonymity I’m focusing on is the kind that’s being used to basically be a cyberbully.
Definitely the biggest downside of having a public blog are those trolls commenting negatively, trashing your beliefs/morals/decisions without any fear of having that microscope turned back on themselves. Between the comments Susana has shown me on baristamommy.com and the comments on my occasional articles for namelessministries.com, I’ve seen more than my share of hateful negativity and the sad truth is that many of those comments have been from people we actually know in real life. These people have dropped hints in their comments that make it unlikely that they’re just “some random troll”. The way people go on about certain topics and the way people word things are often dead giveaways (plus IP address searches are magical…and yes, anonymous emails can be traced).
Don’t be this guy. Credit: Penny Arcade
My plea to you is to break this no-ownership, no-responsibility, cowardly cycle of Internet anonymity. Refuse to take part and bring charity to everything YOU do on the Internet. Be the better person and for the parents (or future parents) show your children by your example what is appropriate behavior online as well as offline.
And to any of the people who know us personally…we aren’t saying that our way of raising our kids or our way of living our lives is perfect. Far from it. However, if you truly disagree with our choices, be man (or woman) enough to take ownership of your opinion. Send an email or a comment and don’t hide behind anonymity. Or, you can always simply go elsewhere. The beauty of the Internet is that there are millions of other sites to visit.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God bless, Andrew