Behind the Screen

rainloveIt is really easy to see the internet as an abstract place. A place that isn’t really
real but we all seem to live on it. It sometimes feels like a place where there are no faces, no real people but just words and videos and pixels.

But it isn’t that simple. Behind every screen is a person. A real person. A person with feelings and dreams and fears and doubts. Behind every blog is someone living real life, trying to get through the daily grind. Behind every YouTube video is a real person going through a tragedy or clinging to hope or skipping in the sunshine. Behind every twitter account is flesh and blood, typing thoughts and ideas and their hopes and dreams.

I have been pondering this. Which may seem odd, but when we comment or tweet back we aren’t placing words into an abyss that swirls them around and sucks them in a black hole. No, those words which are dripped in meaning and language are going to be seen and processed by a real person. And depending on the words you use, they will either encourage or scar that person. They will either uplift or break down. 

I have friends with YouTube channels and blogs that sometimes get abuse from people, words flung onto the screen and sit there chewing away and they are hurt by them. They wonder if it is worth it? Does it outweigh the good stuff? One of my friends said that he get about 5% horrible comments and its often those comments that he remembers the most.

We need to recognise that the person behind the screen has real feelings. And then we ask ourselves…

Is what I’m saying encouraging, helpful, uplifting, truthful, humane?

Even if I disagree with someone, if I don’t think their theology is like mine, if I think their concepts and ideas are not what I agree with, the truth is that they are still a human being behind the screen. My ungracious words could knock their confidence and hurt them.

Would I say the same things to them if I was sitting at the table with them? Eating, looking into their eyes as we discuss theology, gaming, YouTube videos, music etc… What would drip off the tongue?

My friend recently wrote some thoughts of a book she was reading, she doesn’t agree with everything he wrote but her mini review was full of good and gracious thoughts. But the author of the book sent her a message saying he was glad she read the book and would interested in more of her thoughts on it. She shared this with me and it made us stop and think.

There is a real person behind this book and although we don’t agree with everything the book says, the person who wrote it is not abstract and not someone to simply disagree and argue with. It made her think about how she will engage with the rest of the book.

The person behind the screen is not abstract. They are real. Flesh and blood. Dreams and Imagination. Hurts and Fears. Someone you could sit down with and drink coffee with. It should change the way we comment, remark, review and write when we engage and disagree with people or dislike something.

Love should be in every keystroke.

*Image from Imadecode (Flickr: Creative Commons licence)

Out of the Heart and Onto the Blog

affectionsBlogging is rather an interesting platform. Anyone can start a blog and put up their ideas and it’s very appealing not having to go through publishers and editors to put up your own thoughts and ideas. It is also very revealing, on blogs and also twitter little storms can be created which will either build up a person or destroy a person. They are powerful mediums and they need to be treated with care.

I have been thinking a lot about what Jesus says in Luke 6:45:

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Out of the abundance of the heart the person blogs or tweets. It made me think about the topics I blog and the state of my heart. I’m not naturally a good person, but Christ has changed my heart, he has filled me with his spirit and so out of my mouth should speak a different heart. It made me think about how I use this blog and what I write about. Am I encouraging? Am I proclaiming Christ? Am I loving? Am I thankful? Or do I prefer to rant and complain? Do I prefer to crush someone?

If my words on a blog post or on twitter are discouraging, grumbling, complaining, unforgiving, going out their way to belittle someone or making sure I crush someone under the weight of my words and expectations then it is quite evident what my heart is like because Jesus says in Matthew 15:18:

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”


If I am like this and its evident that my words are saying something about my heart that is not good nor Christ like, then I need to come back to Christ. Perhaps the temptation is to masquerade what I think on the blog, but people know me in real life and can judge whether my words are true or not. Instead I need to come back to Christ. Come to sweet Jesus and be reminded of who I am in Christ – a new creation with a new heart and adopted into His family. Totally forgiven.

When it comes to what we say on the internet we have to be careful. We have to be accountable to people, to be slow to speak and quick to listen. We need to test our hearts and the words from our mouths. What we say can really hurt and affect people more than we realise and often it comes from a bitterness rooted in our own hearts that causes this.

Come to Christ again. Repent. Forgive. Think about what your writing about – will it lift a person up? Will it encourage them? Does it edify?

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)

Inside the mind of an Introvert

Over the road Tanya Marlow wrote a post on being an honorary introvert, it’s a great post and she invites us in to see what its like to be an extrovert at the dinner table. We see a glimpse of what its like to be an extrovert with an illness that keeps her indoors and through this she reflects on how she is an honorary introvert. It’s a great read and it got me thinking again about introverts and extroverts. I wrote some posts a while back on Introverts in the church that shared some of my thoughts from the book that I was reading on that subject.

I laughed a lot when Tanya said: “Sometimes, I will confess, I view introverts as a blank canvas onto which I splash my bright, oh-so-interesting stories.  It came as quite a shock when I entered Twitter and the Blogosphere, and discovered that introverts have thoughts.”

It made me laugh because as an introvert myself with edges of life dipping into pools of the extrovert world, I guess on the outside it would seem I was shy, lacking in confidence and have nothing meaningful to say. I am a blank canvas. But the truth is, inside my brain are a thousand thoughts and pictures, its like a firework display constantly going off. It is noisy. Thinking about conversations I have had, thinking about theology, thinking about conversations that I may have or may never have, thinking about what I will do next, thinking about what the person in front of me has just said – do I agree, don’t I agree? What does that person really mean when they say that? What will they think if I say this in response? …. mmm I wonder whats for dinner tonight.

Now if you ask me a question and there is a silence it doesn’t mean I don’t have an answer. Whats actually happening is that I am running through every situation in my head on how to answer this, I delve into the knowledge I might have around that question, the logical answer, the emotional answer, the truthful answer and I think about all the possible responses you may have to that answer which will determine whether I say it or not.

The danger of us introverts starting to say anything out loud is that someone will interrupt us and disrupt the thought pattern and ruin what we are going to say, which will cause us to start the thinking process again. Which takes time and if you are in a group with extroverts what probably has happened is that they are three topics ahead and the introverts are still mulling over what the first conversation was about. It’s quite funny really!

This is why I quite like twitter and blogging. It gives a great chance to spend time thinking and chewing through ideas before writing it down. Then you can look over it and change anything you want to.Without any interruptions. Check out Tanya’s post on introverts taking over the internet!

One thing I have learnt though is that at times I need to think and speak quicker and I don’t have to go through all scenarios before I say something to someone. I do have things to say, I just need to speak up at times.

Also extroverts do have good things to say. You see, I guess I sometimes think that as extroverts talk out their thoughts I am often thinking that they aren’t saying anything at all meaningful. If I actually sit and listen then I will find that there is a meaningful conclusion and if extroverts sit and wait for introverts then they will hear a meaningful conclusion too. The working out of that is either out loud or in their head. Noise and silence which will bring pain and awkwardness to both people. But in friendship as I learn with my friend Tanya, a bit of awkward noise or silence is well worth it in the end.

Collection of Webs (13)

Some really great stuff out there in the web world:

An honest blogpost from Tanya Marlow and her story of how she is learning to trust. Just a great post.

When your blog is not on a Blog Roll… ah yes I can understand Anita!! I feel like this sometimes when I look at someones blog who I read and follow and I notice I am not on their blog roll!! WHY! This post is honest and great.

Btw both Anita and Tanya are on fire at the mo with their blogging, I am really enjoying reading their stuff.

This post was written a few weeks ago by Krish Kandia – Is christianity supposed to be masculine? I think it’s a brilliant, humble, biblical response to what John Piper wrote about Christianity.

Here is a wonderful how-to-guide on how to make a Latte and a pretty foam picture on top of it (you know  how you get those pictures on your coffee in the shape of a leaf, tree and your Auntie Mable etc?) Here is how you can do it at home!!!

And lastly here is a wonderful video of these guys singing composers names in the style of their music! it’s a bit long but worth watching!!!

Collection of Webs (12)

Looking around the Web, what do I see?

Well here are some good blog posts that I have come across –

An article on the Trinity by Mike Reeves (this is a bit from his book):

Single god, non-smoker, seeks attractive creation with good sense of humour…

Imagine for a moment that you are God. I’m sure you’ve done it before. Now think: would you in your divine wisdom and power ever want to create a universe, and if so, why? Because you feel lonely and want some friends? Because you like being pampered and want some servants? It is one of the profoundest questions to ask: if there is a God, why is there anything else? Why the universe? Why us? Why might God decide to have a creation?

Tanya Marlow writes about the illness narative. Its a very interesting read:

“As a  society, we know how to process the ‘acute’: the emergencies, the tragedies.  But we can’t handle the chronic; the non-fatal, ongoing, wearying, unsolvable illnesses. We don’t have the language, the categories, the ‘narratives’ to talk about it. We don’t know how to react to the person incapacitated for years with back pain, those housebound with M.E., the depression patient who doesn’t respond to treatment.  We don’t know whether we’re looking at a potential ‘tragedy’ case or ‘victory’ case, and it makes us suspicious and confused.”

Here is an interview with Glen Scrivener on why he blogs:

“Some people have an irenic tone and serpentine wisdom.   I have a nasal tone and bark like a dog.   Blogging suits me like that.  I’ve had the same strap-line since the beginning and it really has been the conviction that’s driven me: “Jesus is the Word of God.””