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Be Slow to Blog by Dr. David Hankins Exec. Director La. Baptist Convention.
I have a blog. It seems like only recently that I got my first e-mail account but it was 14 years ago! The address was a random series of numbers and letters that defied logic and memorization. My blog site is simply my name. I don’t mention my blog as a matter of pride. Just about everyone has one.
The explosion of social media continues apace. A report last week noted Facebook has 500 million participants. (My grandkids got me to sign up). And then there’s texting, Twitter, YouTube, and on and on. The Internet has opened the floodgate of electronic communication and everyone can play.
I am benefited by the easy access to information the Internet provides. In one fell swoop, it has replaced my dependence on the newspaper, Webster’s Dictionary, some of my commentaries, my 1965 World Book Encyclopedias and my memory. I enjoy having so much data at my fingertips. I’ve even become accustomed to purchasing things on line.
What about the interactive features of the Internet, the “social media”? As of yet, I don’t tweet or follow anyone on Twitter or surf through the blogs or post every day. I can feel it coming, though. But I also have some hesitation, not from the positive things, but from some negative things.
The Apostle James wrote, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” E-communication is so rapid. It may have as much in common with oral communication as it does with written. Perhaps the Apostle’s admonition would serve us well here. If James lived today, he might say, “Be slow to blog!” Slow down. Before you blog, make sure what you write is not:
- Inadvertent. Internet communications can be widely read. Make sure you don’t mind what you write being widely disseminated. One recent denominational blogger seemed surprised that his unhelpful remarks on his blog could be read by everyone. Don’t expect privacy or confidentiality with blogs, tweets, FB, etc. Be prepared to live with what you write.
- Intemperate. The whole idea of writing is that it can be more thoughtful, dispassionate, and measured than what often occurs in the give and take of verbal exchanges. The temptation with interactive media is to fire back immediate responses that have not been thought through. These can be hurtful, insensitive and slanderous. Count to ten. Sleep on it. Get a second opinion. Then write.
- Inaccurate. Wikipedia is a great site, but they have had to beef up the review of information that has been proffered. Some of it was simply not true. Untruths can now be promulgated at the speed of light. Don’t contribute to misinformation and don’t pass it on.
- Inappropriate. What a sad outcome to the posting of the video of the gay Rutgers student who, as a result, committed suicide. Or the shameful exploits of a Duke coed that irreparably damages the lives of people. There are hundreds of other inappropriate postings: bad language, insensitive humor, thoughtless remarks, and a myriad of other careless, crass, coarse words and pictures. Teenagers need to be especially careful! Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I don’t want to be a spoilsport or a nanny, but could we at least have some good manners?
- Inane. Don’t contribute to the blather. Have something thoughtful to say. Comedian Dave Barry, in noting the Twitter site being out of commission for several hours last year, opined, “Hundreds of people didn’t know where the Kardashian sisters had lunch.” There is probably some value in just saying, Hey! or Atta boy! on line. Every posting doesn’t have to be Pulitzer quality, but try to be meaningful. Just because it is rapid doesn’t mean it has to be vapid.
I often sign off my communications with “keep in touch.” Keeping in touch is getting easier all the time. Perhaps, if we slow down, we can maximize our communication while minimizing any harm.
P.S. Check out www.LBC.org for the latest on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting. Hope to see you there.