Tag Archives: trolls

Trolling for a Thrill

31 Oct

Trolling for a Thrill . . .

 

I John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

 

I love looking at the context of famous Bible verses.  The above verse is the one that precedes the one I use so often (“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen”).  The verse on idols ends the book of 1 John.

 

What a wonder it is to realize that the true God has given us true life when we received His Son Jesus Christ.  We know Him and are in Him!  What a wonder!

 

As you have seen in the first three weeks of this blog, I feel called to look at the true life God gives us through His Word and His Son and to contrast it with some of the idols we embrace in this life.  I hope to gently challenge us, all of us, to realize when we are holding onto an idol (which we all do at some point) and to lay it down, in order to fully embrace our Saviour and His love.

 

I will always go unabashedly to the idea that we humans are messy creatures.  In Christ, we have been saved from sin, but we are all still works in progress.  And, because of that, when we try to live in community, we often step on each other’s toes.  It is these ways of stepping on each other, many of them based on our own personal idolatries, that I hope to look at sometimes.  That can be helpful to all of us.

 

I was thinking this week of something that happens a lot on-line, both in anonymous venues and even on Facebook.  There is the phenomenon called “trolling” which has been defined as someone putting up a status or a statement that is meant to incite angry words between people. 

 

Trolling is probably the on-line equivalent of “being an instigator.”

 

They say that the most skilled trolls (and real-life instigators) even get to where they can throw their “word grenade” into a crowd of people and get them at each other’s throats without anyone even realizing who originally started the fight!  These folks can end up watching a fight at the sidelines, with total innocence written on their faces, and with no one suspecting they lobbed the first verbal projectile into the crowd (they may have done it in a whisper to one of the people who later erupted in argument).

 

I am not sure why people would choose the thrill of stirring people up into argument over the true thrill of life in the Son of God, but it does happen and it even involves Christians sometimes.  Maybe they haven’t yet realized all they have in Christ, so they look for vicarious thrills elsewhere.

 

I guess there is always the idea of self-righteously looking at the people who are quarreling and feeling that we are somehow better than them (even if we instigated the argument).  That might help someone’s sagging spirits sometime, I suppose.

 

I will strive to be gentle in this blog.  I have to admit that I too have become addicted to the level of sarcasm that surrounds us today, but I will strive to apply sarcasm only to myself.  I realize that sarcasm, directed at a person, never changes his mind.  And it can cut like a knife.

 

Finally, if I bring up an issue, I really do intend to listen to your comments on it, even when you disagree with me.  I don’t know everything and I learn in community, as we all do. 

 

I think that there are few things as silly as putting up a Facebook status to invite comment, then deleting everyone’s comments that disagree with my position.  To me, it seems that putting a post out there means we are prepared to hear what others will say about it, pro and con. 

 

I especially don’t agree with putting up a political comment, or some other controversy, then accusing people who disagree with me of “attacking me.”  If I wave a red flag, I should not be surprised when the bull comes.  And it is disingenuous for me to then tell the farmer his bull attacked me!

 

All that to say, I am enjoying this blog and I hope you are, too.  Some of you have engaged in the conversation and I hope even more of you will.  God’s Word is infallible.  I am not.   

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Flame wars: What are You Offering as a Practical Alternative?

7 Jul

A few years ago, we used to call the constant bickering in cyberspace “flame wars.”   The people who lived to get them started were called “trolls.” 

I am not sure we use the term “flame wars” anymore.  I am not sure we have updated it either.  It seems as though controversy for controversy’s sake is accepted as normal now in cyberspace, not singled out for approbation.

I think of that idea as it relates to my Christian denomination.  I have spent 31 of my 55 years in the Independent Fundamental Baptist denomination, or IFB.  It stands out for not actually being a denomination, but a loose confederation of churches who have agreed to band together because they share certain fundamental beliefs about the Bible. 

It also stands out for loudly denouncing (“separating from”) almost any other group of Christians who don’t see things our way.  

That “separation” goes far beyond what is written in the Bible, too.  It often ends up being chiefly about music and musical styles.  There have actually been quarrels about whether God thinks that 18th century Europe produced the best praise songs and hymns ever.  Ummmm, really?  I love 18th century European music for many reasons, but I don’t think God had to wait almost 18 centuries after He sent His Son to earth to find someone to praise Him appropriately!  Ya know?

Problem is that the human heart is, by nature, tribal and divisive.  If we are not careful, we carry those tendencies to church.  

We would never leave our church because we know God has placed us there.  It has educational facilities for every age between preschool and a doctoral degree, so it stands out as being a place that values Biblical education.  It is also diverse and multicultural in the true sense of those words.  

I have also noted that those who leave our church, or the IFB, don’t stop being tribal anyway.  They usually just join another church and end up sniping at our church and/or the IFB for the rest of their lives.  They continue to preach “separation” only with a new target.  They end up separating from those who taught them the doctrine of separation!

I left the IFB for a while and came back.  I would like to think I have some wisdom on this subject to convey.  

Tribalism is inside us.  The tendency to create controversies with “us” vs. “them” is inborn in us. It is that tendency we need to fight, not other churches.  

And when we leave a church, we take ourselves along!  So the imperfections of our former church, in many ways, come along with us.  

When we realize the enemy is indeed us, as Pogo said, we begin to gather wisdom.

There is no perfect church.  So my initial question is still valid.  What are you offering as a practical alternative to flame wars?  

Can people come to you to find a solid, supportive friend?  Or are you too busy stirring up controversy to see the human treasures right before your very eyes?

We miss them too often, the very people who could make our lives in Christ richer and fuller.  Let’s not do that. 

Just a Thought: When Someone Tells Me a Friend of Mine is Really a Hypocrite!

20 Jun

We hear a lot about how to sort out sincere people from hypocrites.

Sometimes things get murky and confusing because we are, by nature, messy creatures who are not internally consistent, none of us.  

However, that does not make us all hypocrites.  Hypocrites purposely plan to be inconsistent and they do it long-term, month after month.

Sometimes we get into a position where one of our friends may accuse another of our friends of hypocrisy.  

There is no foolproof way to sort out a statement like that, although, if one of your friends is badmouthing another of your friends and that person is not fighting back, chances are the person who is not fighting back might actually be the one who is most sincere!

At least he is not one who gossips behind people’s backs!

Another test I have noted is to ask yourself how much support you get from each of those friends when you are in need.  

I have noticed something in the past that has only been exaggerated by the advent of Facebook.  

The people who are constantly belittling other Facebook users and accusing them of hypocrisy behind their backs usually don’t make any other contribution to Facebook than those negative statements.  

If a flame war is breaking out on your Facebook page, that person will be right there, ready to engage.  

If your grandfather is dying or you have food poisoning or your washer breaks down and you need prayer . . . you won’t notice these “valiant warrior types” posting to your page at all.

They seem to major in controversy.

I guess that is why they have been termed “Internet trolls.”  

Some people have nothing to contribute but negativity.  

Trolling for a Thrill . . .

17 Aug

I John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

I love looking at the context of famous Bible verses.  The above verse is the one that precedes the one I use so often (“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen”).  The verse on idols ends the book of 1 John.

What a wonder it is to realize that the true God has given us true life when we received His Son Jesus Christ.  We know Him and are in Him!  What a wonder!

As you have seen in the first three weeks of this blog, I feel called to look at the true life God gives us through His Word and His Son and to contrast it with some of the idols we embrace in this life.  I hope to gently challenge us, all of us, to realize when we are holding onto an idol (which we all do at some point) and to lay it down, in order to fully embrace our Saviour and His love.

I will always go unabashedly to the idea that we humans are messy creatures.  In Christ, we have been saved from sin, but we are all still works in progress.  And, because of that, when we try to live in community, we often step on each other’s toes.  It is these ways of stepping on each other, many of them based on our own personal idolatries, that I hope to look at sometimes.  That can be helpful to all of us.

I was thinking this week of something that happens a lot on-line, both in anonymous venues and even on Facebook.  There is the phenomenon called “trolling” which has been defined as someone putting up a status or a statement that is meant to incite angry words between people.

Trolling is probably the on-line equivalent of “being an instigator.”

They say that the most skilled trolls (and real-life instigators) even get to where they can throw their “word grenade” into a crowd of people and get them at each other’s throats without anyone even realizing who originally started the fight!  These folks can end up watching a fight at the sidelines, with total innocence written on their faces, and with no one suspecting they lobbed the first verbal projectile into the crowd (they may have done it in a whisper to one of the people who later erupted in argument).

I am not sure why people would choose the thrill of stirring people up into argument over the true thrill of life in the Son of God, but it does happen and it even involves Christians sometimes.  Maybe they haven’t yet realized all they have in Christ, so they look for vicarious thrills elsewhere.

I guess there is always the idea of self-righteously looking at the people who are quarreling and feeling that we are somehow better than them (even if we instigated the argument).  That might help someone’s sagging spirits sometime, I suppose.

I will strive to be gentle in this blog.  I have to admit that I too have become addicted to the level of sarcasm that surrounds us today, but I will strive to apply sarcasm only to myself.  I realize that sarcasm, directed at a person, never changes his mind.  And it can cut like a knife.

Finally, if I bring up an issue, I really do intend to listen to your comments on it, even when you disagree with me.  I don’t know everything and I learn in community, as we all do.

I think that there are few things as silly as putting up a Facebook status to invite comment, then deleting everyone’s comments that disagree with my position.  To me, it seems that putting a post out there means we are prepared to hear what others will say about it, pro and con.

I especially don’t agree with putting up a political comment, or some other controversy, then accusing people who disagree with me of “attacking me.”  If I wave a red flag, I should not be surprised when the bull comes.  And it is disingenuous for me to then tell the farmer his bull attacked me!

All that to say, I am enjoying this blog and I hope you are, too.  Some of you have engaged in the conversation and I hope even more of you will.  God’s Word is infallible.  I am not.

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