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This article is helpful and insightful. Has some good wisdom that our blog could gain from.  Here’s a highlight:

Sometimes, lives are wrecked by “Business Traveler Mentality.” This is the belief that “the rules of home don’t apply when I’m on business trips.” People make really horrible decisions on the road they’d never make at home because, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Often, we Christians suffer from that same line of thinking when we get online. We’ll tweet things we’d never say to someone’s face. We’ll comment on Facebook statuses in ways we’d never do in “real life.” We’ll push buttons and pick fights on comment threads and message boards. We’ll gossip and tear down people as if maybe “Love your neighbor” actually says, “Love your neighbor, except if you’re online.”

Check out the entire article via Relevant Magazine – Jon Acuff: How to Not Be a Jerk On The Internet

Enjoy and feel free to leave your thoughts or add to the list in the comments below.

23 Responses to “How to Not Be a Jerk on the Internet”

  1. on 06 Sep 2011 at 2:04 pmSean

    Victor,

    Thank you for posting this. We cannot allow the impersonal nature of text on a screen to fool us into depersonalizing the persons with whom we are speaking. Respect and gentleness should always accompany sound and biblically based reasoning.

  2. on 06 Sep 2011 at 2:23 pmXavier

    Gentlemen,

    As Christians, how can we “with all authority…reprove, exhort & rebuke sharply & publicly” those who oppose us without coming across as a “jerk” [1Tim 5.20; 2Tim 4.2; Titus 1.13; 2.15]? In or out of the Internet?

  3. on 06 Sep 2011 at 3:38 pmMark C.

    Xavier,

    We can “reprove, exhort, and rebuke sharply” by speaking the truth in love. Presenting the truth in a clear, logical fashion from the Scriptures need not include such things as belittling those to whom we speak, mocking their beliefs, taking a haughty, superior attitude, or using “snarky” sarcastic remarks. It should never be a matter of attacking or insulting a person or his character, but rather addressing the ideas. Prov. 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

    Also, keep in mind that most of the verses you referenced are dealing with confronting a sin in someone’s life. In most cases this is not what happens on the internet, as we usually do not know the person, nor what sin may be in their life. To assume such sin would be judgmental and prejudiced.

  4. on 06 Sep 2011 at 4:05 pmXavier

    Mark C.

    To assume such sin would be judgmental and prejudiced.

    I think the Bible teaches about spiritual discernment in other to identify and deal with people who do not have a love for the truth. And how this can lead to sin [1Cor 3.6; 2Thess 2.10-12].

    Anyway, I do not think we can ever escape public criticism whenever we question, let alone oppose, other people’s worldview beliefs.

  5. on 06 Sep 2011 at 5:57 pmMark C.

    Xavier,

    I Cor. 3:6 says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” I think you may have written the wrong reference.

    Also, II Thes. 2:10-12 talks about people who are deceived in the time of the Antichrist, because they did not love the truth. But it doesn’t say anything about spiritual discernment in those verses.

    Still, there is such a thing as spiritual discernment, but it doesn’t negate the fact that we are called to speak the truth in love, love our neighbor and even our enemies, and to be at peace with all men as much as possible. To assume a sin of someone on the internet that you don’t even know, and to rebuke them for it, is hardly a loving, Godly attitude.

    If people publicly criticize us for our beliefs, then the fault is theirs. But if we address them in an unloving way, as I described in my last comment, then we are no better than they are. Time and again I have seen debates in which the Unitarian was polite and civil, and the Trinitarians were the ones who got nasty about it. The same thing is often true with evolution/creation debates. And observers who are just looking for answers may recognize which side is the more loving and be attracted to it.

  6. on 06 Sep 2011 at 6:23 pmXavier

    Mark C.

    I meant 1Cor 13.6.

    To assume a sin of someone on the internet that you don’t even know, and to rebuke them for it, is hardly a loving, Godly attitude.

    One of the clarion calls for Christians is to believe Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God [Jn 20.31]. And anyone who refuses to aknowledge this human Son of God “is a deceiver and an anti-christ” [2Jn 1.7].

    By the sounds of it, to believe otherwise is a grave sin. Wouldn’t you agree?

  7. on 06 Sep 2011 at 6:50 pmMark C.

    Xavier,

    Of course, but that’s not the point. The point is “how not to be a jerk on the internet.” The Bible doesn’t say it’s OK to be a jerk to somebody if they sin or if they don’t believe in Jesus. It says we are to love even our enemies. This is supposed to be what sets Christians apart, but far too often Christians are the worst at it, even fighting among themselves. And on the internet it is often easy to criticize and condemn without knowing anything about the person.

  8. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:01 pmXavier

    Mark C.

    Yes, the point is how not to be a jerk while speaking the truth in love. When somebody figures it out let me know.

  9. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:04 pmDoubting Thomas

    Mark C.
    You said, “And on the internet it is often easy to criticize and condemn without knowing anything about the person.”

    I agree. My biggest problem is that when someone gets aggressive towards me, I very often find myself also getting aggressive toward them. Then later on (after I’ve cooled down) I wish that I would have been less aggressive. BTW – I really liked your quote above from Prov. 15:1;

    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger”…

  10. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:11 pmMark C.

    Yes, the point is how not to be a jerk while speaking the truth in love. When somebody figures it out let me know.

    Watch or listen to the debates Anthony has participated in. I think he is a fine example of maintaining civility in the face of rudeness.

  11. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:16 pmXavier

    Mark C.

    In case you did not know he’s my father-in-law. 🙂

  12. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:16 pmRay

    As I was reading this article I began to wonder if Jesus will be saying to us, “I was on the internet, and you…..”

  13. on 06 Sep 2011 at 8:40 pmMark C.

    Xavier,

    Yes I did.

  14. on 06 Sep 2011 at 9:41 pmDoubting Thomas

    Ray,
    That is a good point. We should talk to people as if we are talking to Y’shua.

    In Matthew 25:40 Y’shua says,

    “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”…

  15. on 07 Sep 2011 at 8:02 amAngela

    Great post, Victor.

    This website is so valuable for reaching out to people who have questions about their faith. When they begin to read the exchanges of the commentators…although there is a disclaimer that states, “The views expressed by posters and commentators are not necessarily endorsed by Living Hope International Ministries. Feel free to disagree with us as we all work together to discover the truth of Scripture.” I think we still all hold the very heavy responsibility, in our discussions and debates over Scripture and interpretations of it, to always represent Christ Jesus in our tone. As Mark so eloquently stated above, “observers who are just looking for answers may recognize which side is the more loving and be attracted to it.”

    I believe healthy discussion is a great tool, but nothing turns someone off more than an arrogant, haughty, sarcastic, or an obnoxious attitude [a.k.a. internet jerk]. Our goal should be to discuss Scripture, but as a healthy example of what it can look like to the world, to do so. Look at our political system in the U.S. Two sides who are polarized are beginning to hate one another. Shouldn’t Christians set a precedence of what disagreeing should look like to the world?

    We should keep in mind that there are people out there watching and listening to our exchanges, and although they may not be commenting, they are gleaning a picture of our Christ by our words. They cannot see our smiles, hear our tone of voices, or catch our nonverbal expressions… they only read our words. Let us take heed before we write something and hit ‘submit comment’ that we take a few minutes to re-read it and make sure it sounds loving, gentle, kind…

    [okay…how’d I do? lol].

    Bottom line: A good, timely reminder, Victor. =)

  16. on 07 Sep 2011 at 8:45 amXavier

    Angela

    [okay…how’d I do? lol].

    Maybe you have never encountered this but everytime you talk about the sound doctrine to people, especially Orthodox Christians, you always come across as “arrogant, haughty, sarcastic…obnoxious attitude”. Why? Simply because you are challenging not only what they may have been taught since they were kids but thousands of years of their church dogma.

    All this theorizing is good in principle but the hard, cold reality is that once your “out there” in the battlefield of ideas it does not matter with what loving/godly attitude you approach people without “offending” them and coming across as a complete and utter “jerk”.

    This is not to say we should NOT strive to give a defense of our faith with “gentleness and respect” always [1Pe 3.15].

  17. on 07 Sep 2011 at 9:57 amSean

    Angela,

    great points

    Xavier,

    I think there are two things that we are mixing together (and understandably so). The first is when someone is offended because of the truth. The second is when someone is offended because of how the truth was communicated. May we never be the second. Part of loving our enemies (as Jesus commanded us to do) is speak the truth in a way that is as easy as possible for them to hear. The goal is not to win the argument, but to help others to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved.

  18. on 07 Sep 2011 at 10:56 amXavier

    Sean

    The goal is not to win the argument, but to help others to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved.

    Yeah, but by doing that you offend most of the people most of the time. Because its their truth versus ours. At the end of the day whatever loving/godly intentions you may have will be lost in translation.

    I am talking from personal experience in and out of the faith. For example, I used to work in an industry that looked after the welfare of people. And it did not matter what patient/loving/understanding attitude you brought to work, MOST of the people felt “offended” by the actions we took in trying to look after their welfare.

    Let me again qualify my statements by saying that I wholeheartedly agree with the Christian sentiments of this article and the comments. But perhaps we should put forth both sides of this topic so those on the “outside” won’t naively go into it thinking this is the cure for all. The lord Jesus after all warns us about the realities of this present, evil age.

    ALL men will hate you because of me…If the world hates you, realize that it hated me before it hated you.

    If you had anything in common with the world, the world would love you as one of its own. But you don’t have anything in common with the world.

    I chose you from the world, and that’s why the world hates you. Mat 10.22; John 15.18-19

  19. on 07 Sep 2011 at 11:17 amSean

    Xavier,

    you said,

    Yeah, but by doing that you offend most of the people most of the time. Because its their truth versus ours. At the end of the day whatever loving/godly intentions you may have will be lost in translation.

    This has not at all been my experience. By far most people I have talked to about issues of disagreement were not offended. A lot of this has to do with respecting their right to choose what they believe and actively listening to them. In fact, some of my favorite and most enjoyable conversations have been with people over the Trinity where we both presented our positions and argued for them zealously and respectfully.

  20. on 07 Sep 2011 at 1:36 pmMark C.

    Xavier,

    You said in the Nephilim thread, “Remember your advice to me on the other thread?” in response to my comment to Wolfgang, “Talk is cheap. If you have proof, let’s see it.” I decided to respond here so as not to derail that thread.

    My comment was a challenge to actually present specific evidence rather than just talking about it. “Talk is cheap” is a well known expression. If you notice, I did not belittle Wolfgang as a person, nor did I mock his viewpoint. It was not meant to be haughty or superior, just direct and challenging. I think we can be that without being unkind.

    BTW, I agree with Sean. What you described has not been my experience either. Some have been offended by the truth, but most have appreciated the honest, straightforward approach with which I presented it.

    As Sean pointed out, a lot of this has to do with respecting their right to choose what they believe and actively listening to them. This is indeed rare, but I try to do my best to listen. That’s why I keep challenging Wolfgang (and others) to present his point specifically and deal with the actual issues rather than just repeating the fact that he disagrees.

  21. on 07 Sep 2011 at 4:33 pmDoubting Thomas

    Angela,
    You said, “Shouldn’t Christians set a precedence of what disagreeing should look like to the world?”

    I would like to say huge “AMEN” to that, but I must admit that sometimes (when the other person is being a jerk, insulting etc..) I become more aggressive than I probably should. I’m an emotional person by nature, and sometimes that results in me behaving in a way that I feel ashamed of later on (once I’ve cooled down). But, I guess we “all” just human and fall short of the perfection that was (and is) our Lord, King and Messiah…

  22. on 07 Sep 2011 at 6:45 pmMark C.

    Thomas,

    I know what you mean. A good rule of thumb is to never post something when you’re angry. Give yourself time to cool down.

  23. on 07 Sep 2011 at 8:06 pmXavier

    Mark C.

    If you notice, I did not belittle Wolfgang as a person, nor did I mock his viewpoint.

    Sounded like it to me. Then again, Wolfgang might be fine with it.

    BTW, I agree with Sean. What you described has not been my experience either.

    Well that’s good. Hope you or anyone else never has to.

  

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