Thursday, August 04, 2005

No Comment

I'm opinionated. Very opinionated. I believe and feel things strongly, and am willing (eager, even) to share these thoughts and feelings with others.

The greatest blessing and curse of blogging is the comment box, both for the writer and the reader. Instant feedback is often a welcome thing; but when such feedback devolves into "flame wars" and arguments/attacks, it becomes a bane on the whole venture.

Those who have been around here long enough remember when we'd have these issue from time to time. Misunderstanding coupled with mis-statement, then combined with the inability of text to convey certain kinds of tone (or the text's tendency to belie unintended tone), often results in major problems between people online. Friendships can be seriously marred by misunderstood jokes, or sincerity that's seen as sarcasm.

So. I find myself becoming more and more hesitant to comment on certain issues, or certain pages. I'll read a post and completely disagree with the person. Or I'll take exception at a blanket statement or characterization that unfairly paints me with its broad brush.

I'll start to type something in response, not in anger (necessarily) but as a means of "correcting misperception and/or misrepresentation." Which is to say, I snap back in the guise of humility.

Then I catch myself. Usually, I'll delete the comment and "walk away." I've learned that most of the time, the comment is not worth the strife. I remind myself that, after all, it's just the internet. It's not as real as the people on each end of it, so it's not worth any attempts to "save face" that result in hurt feelings and misunderstanding.

Paul warns Timothy, "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." While this advice was given in a vastly different context, I think Paul would say the same thing about the blogosphere. He instructs the church at Corinth, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Graceful conversation often means overlooking verbal offenses.

The best example of silence in the face of slander is Jesus. He was falsely accused, lied about, and still he made no reply. He was verbally attacked by the religious leaders, and yet he did not answer their charges. He could have responded; he could have destroyed them rhetorically. He could have argued his way to being released, if he so desired, but he knew that the best response to their slander was to die for them.

So, when people make statements about Americans, "red-staters," Christians, or me personally, I'll probably just shake my head and scroll on. When people praise things that I don't agree with, I will share my opinion openly and honestly when asked, but I'm not going to try to provoke a discussion as much anymore. I'm learning that some things just don't matter as much as living at peace with those around me.

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