With the proliferation of cyberspace especially with the blossoming of social media, people tend to think that cyberspace is reality. The fact is, cyberspace sometimes represents reality but isn’t necessarily reality itself. Cyberspace often represents different facets of reality, even amplifying one facet over other facets. One facet that consistently gets amplified is conflict.
These days, what starts off a full disclosure of a personal perspective turns into a kind of defensive armor that allows people to say whatever they want with impunity. One popular tact is, “I’m not an expert of X … So, please don’t fault me for my mistakes.” Another tact is, “If you don’t like this post, don’t share, but also don’t attack me on here.” This is indeed a problem because such disclaimers aren’t means to free speech but a violation of it.
Certainly, some malicious people misread, misquoted and deliberately misrepresented what they read, and such people should shut up. With the above tact however, the effect moves far beyond shutting up morons. They in fact create a kind of micro aggressive linguistic hegemony. It’s a way of saying, “My opinion is more valid and I’m not interested in hearing yours. Why? Because I said so.” This kind of passive aggressive rudeness does represent the reality we live in. As a minority in the US, I lost count in how many times I heard the phrase, “I don’t want to sound racist, but …” or “just kidding” after a cheap racist joke. Such subtle realities are there to remind us all that certain people think they have the right to be complete jerks while you and I are jerks for calling them on bing jerks. In reality, the real jerks are those who use such full disclosures as defensive weapons against critics.
The best representation of the above problem is the issue of body shaming. Selena Gomez the starlet of pop music is known for posting endless pictures of herself either fully clothed or partially nude (bikini pictures) on social media. Certainly, the jerks come out in droves to congratulate her for being fat, skinny and everything else in between. While I’m totally against cyber bullying, I get what’s happening. Whatever we post on there and the theme about which we post will be viewed by the public. Whether the public opinions are valid, they will be heard. We simply can’t police the jerks who bully Selena Gomez. I suppose the easier way is for her (or anyone else) not to post any body picture unless she’s ready for all sorts of reaction. The same goes for blogs. There’s only so much we can do to police our own blog space. Haters will continue to write nasty things regardless of how much we clearly explain ourselves, and they will do so behind the privacy of their own Facebook settings.
What can Christian bloggers do? Well, we like to think of blogging as being about truth because as Christians, we like to think that we own the truth or that we try our best to talk about the truth. The fact is, no matter what truth is spoken, someone else can misread and misunderstand what we write. At worst, the haters will deliberately misrepresent what we write. At a certain stage, we’ll have to accept the fact that we aren’t going to please everyone and only some opinions are valid. We simply can’t occupy our time with answering every single critic for the fear of others accepting their warped views. The fools will follow other fools.
With social media, there’s always good news. People forget easily. The viral video or blog today will turn to a faded memory of tomorrow. We can only do what we can right now and let tomorrow worry about itself. Surely, we should try to write responsibly, but at a certain stage, responsibility for our own action can only get us so far. This is the world of social media.