Are You Ugly?

Posted on Posted in Faith, Family

boy making a faceEarlier this week I had a bit of fun with my wife’s phone.  She works part-time and leaves for work in the early morning hours.  In the blur of the early morning she forgot her phone, so I kept it with me all day in case anything important came up.  Over the years I have seen many friends ‘hack’ the Facebook accounts of spouses, siblings, parents and friends.  I thought it would be fun to write a few nice things about my wife on her Facebook page since her birthday is coming up…and because I think she is pretty swell.  My little ‘trick’ was met with great approval from my wife’s friends.  I found it interesting that several commented what I had written was the “best” thing they had seen on the internet all day.

Those comments pretty clearly point out that the internet can be a fairly negative place.  Case in point, did you hear about former major league baseball player Curt Schilling being in the news this week?  He recently took to Twitter to have a ‘proud papa’ moment about his daughter.  His girl is 18 years old and had signed on to play softball with a university.  His tweet was met with many congratulations and the occasional good natured college boy joker who said something like ‘I can’t wait to show her around campus.’  But there were a few internet trolls who went well beyond the realm of acceptable behavior when they started talking about raping Mr. Schilling’s daughter, etc.

As a Dad of girls I can identify with the rage he must have felt.  In a blog post he channeled his inner Liam Neeson and said that defending his daughter was one of the few things he was willing to go to jail for.  The young men who typed up these tweets were publicly outed with their real identities, the schools they attend, and their place of employment.  It wasn’t hard to find.  They have since been expelled from their universities, fired from their jobs, and released from the sports teams they were a part of.  Their unacceptable behavior will be an enduring legacy anytime someone Googles their name.  Online activities have real world consequences.  These guys knew they weren’t joking around, they were just being ugly.

The internet can be a place where people are ugly.  The anonymity and detachment provided by cyberspace allows many people to say things they wouldn’t dare say to someone’s face.  People leave comments on photos, videos, and blog posts that go well beyond the realm of rude and crude.  They are fooled into thinking that their words have no real world impact for themselves, the target of their derision, or those observing their behavior.

We recently attended an event at a local church where the Sunday morning sermon was titled “Ugly Christians.”  It was a challenging lesson given by a young man about the impact of the words we say and type as Christians.  Teens face unprecedented challenges in a landscape of new technology but adults also need to make sure they are not a hindrance to the cause of Christ with their online and offline activities.  May we always check our motives, reasoning, and purpose with the things we post online and the conversations we have in the real world.

I have an informal personal policy that I use for online activities.  You might have heard of it… if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  The public forum of social media is not the place to have a war of words.  I know there are probably people who really enjoy the ‘sport’ of online word jousting, but I think it truly impacts our ability to reach out to people as Christians.

Look back at my online posts and you’ll find a hodge-podge collection of posts about my family, interesting things we are doing, funny things my kids say, great deals we want to share, posts about faith, and other things I find inspiring or interesting.  All in all a pretty good collection of nice things.  I’m not advocating that we bury our heads in the sand regarding tough issues, but there is a time, place, and method for these things to be handled in personal conversations.  It is challenging to take a look back in the ‘mirror’ of our online activities to see if we are being lovely or ugly.

Of course one of the most lovely things we can do for our families is teach them about God.  I hope that your family spends time studying the Bible on a regular basis.  It is my hope that Written On My Heart – Week 9 will be a blessing to you in that endeavor.

4 thoughts on “Are You Ugly?

  1. Hi Jon,

    I really enjoyed today’s blog post regarding “Ugly Christians.” One thing I have been seeing lately that troubles me is people forwarding ugly, hateful things about our President. Sometimes at the end of them they will say horrible things like calling him a “Fag_ot” or worse. I generally let these slide but when they come from a relative or someone I know well, I will sometimes ask them to stop sending me stuff like that and explain why. They’ll usually say, “Oh, I didn’t write that part, I just forwarded the message” to which I say, “As far as I, and everybody else that gets this forwarded trash talk down the line are concerned, your name was on the top of the email saying YOU sent it so you are in effect saying it yourself.” I ask them to read the whole email before forwarding it and if they wouldn’t say the words it contains to their Grandmother or Mother’s face, they ought to hit the delete key a few times to remove the offensive phrases or words. When you forward an email, it’s as if you were saying it yourself so remember that before you hit the “Send” button.

    Thanks for being a positive blogger whose words I don’t have to edit out when I forward them to folks.

    Dempsy Winans

    1. Thanks for your comment Dempsy. I agree that certain issues definitely present a challenge. I have made my mistakes and learned lessons from them. This powerful tool that we have in the internet comes with an ever evolving set of challenges to be navigated. Our real challenge is set to begin as we raise our children in this constantly connected age.

  2. I was totally disgusted with what some tweeted about Mr. Schilling’s daughter. I applaud him for what he did, and yes I understand how much damage these people have done to their lives. Notice I don’t hold Mr. Schilling responsible for the punishment they received, not even a little bit. When people do terrible/harmful things, there should be an appropriate reprimand in return. Who knows how many others were saved because he took action, and likewise those who took action based on what his response. It is true that social media can be very ugly, and hurtful to others. I have deleted many posts, trying to keep my page appropriate, and I have asked folks who know me to let me know if they see something that I would not approve on my FB page. Jon, your post regarding your wife was just lovely. The obvious love and kindness that your family shows, including hers and your parents is so genuine. Thanks for sharing so much with those of us who can use a little kindness in the mess of all the other stuff.

  3. It’s worth reading through the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and considering that God wants us to actually be that way. So many times somebody says “I’m just not a gentle person,” but God expects us to actually produce gentleness. Gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and perhaps above all self-control. The fruit section of your grocery store is labeled “produce.” Fruit is what a plant produces. And the fruit of the Spirit is what God expects Christians to produce. So if our online communication (or our communication anywhere) does not look like it is the fruit of the Spirit, we have to ask ourselves if we are really producing what God expects us to produce, or if we are at risk of being burned as unfruitful branches.

    Our kids went to five Vacation Bible Schools last year, which was a wonderful experience. One of the songs they brought home was “The Fruit of the Spirit’s Not a Coconut.” It’s a silly little song, but it allowed me to memorize the fruit of the Spirit for the first time. And a few months later I was struck with the thought that God wants us to actually produce these things. Since it says “self-control” it dawned on me these are items on a todo list of things God wants us to produce by our own control and volition, as opposed to things we are supposed to sit around and wait for the Spirit to produce in our lives, eventually. If you haven’t heard that song, it’s worth looking up online.


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