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)

No Airbrush Please

Nigella Lawson is one of my favourite TV chefs, I quite enjoy watching her TV show and getting ideas for tasty food that I could prepare. Recently I read some news that gave me much joy. Nigella is on a show called the Taste in America and they have a photo of her and other chefs as part of the promo and they asked her if they could airbrush her tummy out. And she said no.


On her blog shes writes:

“Although it was very thrilling to think of being up on a billboard in LA and around the States, I was very strict and English and told them they weren’t allowed to airbrush my tummy out. Wise? Hmmm. But that tum is the truth and is come by honestly, as my granny would have said.”

When I read this I felt like there was some sanity in this insane world. There was a bit of reality in the plastic, super thin glossy magazines.

It’s crazy to think that when we look at a picture it may not be of the real person, but instead a person that’s had computer surgery which will magically remove the lines, the fat and curves and the humanness. So then we see a hollow image of perfection, a distortion of beauty and we think that’s what we should strive for.

I hate playing this game. A game of looking in the mirror and thinking I am not the image of the ladies in the magazines or on TV. The world demands you look like someone who has only eaten bread and water for the last 10 years. It demands perfect make-up and designer face-lifts. No one wants to get old and have lines to prove it. No one wants curves. But we are sold a lie in all of this. The women in front of us are not real. The real women have warts and curves and bags under the eyes. And whats so bad about that? Each line tells a story. An experience.

There are young girls who look in the mirror and then back at the magazines. They clutch their stomachs and think they are ugly. I want to scream at them and tell them that they are not ugly, they are loved beyond looks and the person who loves them thinks they are beautiful – with warts, baggage and sin. He thinks they are so beautiful that he died for them. Those magazines are lying – they promise the world but they will only leave you unsatisfied. Jesus promises you himself and will never leave you.

“But that tum is the truth and is come by honestly, as my granny would have said.”

I am glad Nigella said this. I am glad she is proud of how she looks and doesn’t mind the bumps and curves. It’s nice to see a bit of truth for a change!