Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Liberty fan. I started a club on campus during undergrad that developed into the best student section in our conference. In my four years in Lynchburg, I went to 42 of the 45 football games. I missed a total of two home basketball games and went to God only knows how many away basketball games. I’ve been to either a football or basketball game on every campus in Liberty’s conference.
One of the things that came with being such a big fan was message boards. I’m on all of them. If it has anything to do with Liberty or could have anything to do with Liberty, I’m on it.
And this is where it happened.
I need to come clean about something. I knew the second it happened that I would be writing about it but yet I kept doing it. You see, I messed up yesterday.
I forgot people on the internet have feelings too.
I got into an e-fight on a message board. I really had no reason to. I didn’t care about the subject the fight was about that much. Honestly, I think I was just a little bit bored.
Throughout the process I kept talking about this one person over and over. I mentioned them in their role for their school. When I looked at it that way, it was just a position. I was attacking a position someone held. I was attacking the things they did in that position. I definitely wasn’t attacking that person though.
Or so I thought.
As I kept arguing and acting like a complete jerk, the person I was talking about posted something. That’s when it hit me that, “Oh crap. This is an actual person. What the heck am I doing?”
A lot of times we forget about being a Christian when we’re on the internet. We forget that just because the person can’t see us, we can say whatever we want. Some people would argue that it gives you a false sense of courage and that you say things online that you wouldn’t in public because you can’t see the person. While that may be the case at times, I honestly think that sometimes we just forget that there’s a real live person with real live emotions on the other end of the computer.
We make a joke on Twitter not thinking that the person it’s offensive to could be reading it.
We comment on someone looking stupid in a picture on Facebook without realizing that there’s a good chance that person is going to read the comment.
And we get in e-fights about mascots and forget that there’s a real person inside of that costume.
I finally came to my senses and apologized publicly on the message board. I also sent the person a private message so that I could apologize directly to them.
One of my favorite writers, Jon Acuff, wrote about this exact thing a few months ago. He said:
Much like “Christian hate mail,” being a “Jerk Christian” defies logic. We serve a loving God.
I didn’t show off that loving God very well on Thursday morning. In fact, if people were to look at that thread, they’d probably think I didn’t even know that loving God. I didn’t cuss anyone out or make fun of anyone’s momma. I was just plain rude.
The internet doesn’t excuse us from showing the love of Jesus to everyone else. Just because someone annoyed us online or because we’re bored doesn’t mean we can start acting like a complete jerk. We’re called to love people regardless of the situation or the location.
Love God. Love people. Right?.
Love people online from behind a computer screen just like you would if they were sitting next to you.
I didn’t do that great of a job of that yesterday. Don’t make my mistake