Never say Never!
Posted on 29 June 2016
After a lifetime of saying "I'll never have a website!" - here I am!!
I’ve always struggled with the whole social media culture. I don’t like the self-promotion that goes on, (especially in Christian communities where we are supposed to value modesty and humility) and I’ve always said “I’ll never do that! I don’t want to be seen to be blowing my own trumpet and advertising my own greatness!” But alas, ‘Necessity’ has served me up a huge slice of humble pie and I have finally been forced to admit that: (1) phone books are no longer accessed by anyone born after 1940 and (2) if you can’t be found on the World Wide Web, you apparently don’t exist.
Now, I’m fully aware that my friends who know me well will all be “I-told-you-so-ing” when they see that I’ve finally dived into the murky waters of the internet and they will smile to themselves saying “I knew she’d have to eat her words one day!” As such, at the very beginning of my venture into what I had previously shunned, I thought I’d let you know why I’ve been a social-media-conscientious-objector for so long and why I’ve now learnt “never to say never…… “
As a teacher of Homiletics (otherwise known as ‘Preaching’ or ‘Public Communication’), I am constantly reminding my students that the majority of the message we are trying to convey is communicated by our body, our voice, our demeanour and our general ‘vibe’ — ‘What’ we say is important, but ‘how’ we say it and ‘how we look and sound’ while we say it, actually carries just as much, if not more, of the meaning of the message. That’s where the internet lets us down: it’s often a one-dimensional communication tool, and as such, it’s a breeding ground for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. The written word can often be misread, misquoted and misrepresented, which is why I’ve always preferred teaching and talking to real people with real hearts, rather than struggling to read between the lines of what someone has typed onto a screen.
dehumanising the ‘other’
Several years back I wrote a comment on a forum that was debating whether or not women should hold positions of leadership in the Church. I wrote from my heart and told my story of coming to a place where I felt God had affirmed me in my ministry calling. I naively assumed that men and women who called themselves followers of Jesus would naturally treat one another with respect. As I said, I was “naive” and I “assumed”. The cruel, vitriolic and disparaging comments that followed my post were quite unbelievable. I simply could not understand why these people, (my so-called brothers and sisters in Christ), could write such spiteful things about someone they did not even know. And then it dawned on me! – that was the whole point – they did not know me and sitting behind their computer with a heart filled with fear, they had sought to ‘kill’ whoever dared to threaten the safety of their fragile world. They had failed to comprehend that I was a person with feelings and they had made me into the enemy without a face.
promoting a false reality
If I was to believe everything I saw on social media, it would not be long before I would be totally convinced that my life simply did not measure up. Everyone else seems to be thinner, happier, more successful, more ‘favoured’ and generally better-off than me. The smiley faces and the #blessed seem to scream “you’re a loser” to anyone who isn’t having a super-fun-filled day. And there is so much boasting and bragging disguised as “praise points” and “God’s blessing” that it’s easy to despair of my everyday, ordinary existence. Life simply isn’t as sparkly and magical as people like to portray on social media. Bad things happen. And good people feel pain. It’s just that we don’t often advertise our failures and shortcomings to a world that celebrates celebrity and success.
Quote: “Any idiot can put up a website”
Patricia Briggs “Blue Blood”
it’s not all evil
However, having said all that, in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, (and in light of the fact that this is my very first post on my brand new webpage!), I feel must concede that not everything about the internet is necessarily evil! And not everyone who puts up a website is necessarily an idiot! Personally, I remain greatly indebted to so many of you fellow-travellers from all walks of life, faith traditions, nationalities and world-views who have taken the time to open your hearts and share your great wisdom with me. Your web pages, blogs, movies and posts have sewn beautiful threads of diversity into the tapestry of my life. My world is richer because of you. I have become ‘friends’ with people I have never met and been mentored by leaders from around the world who will never know my name. I am so grateful for your stories and deeply touched by your generosity.
and so I begin….
And so with fear and trepidation I dive into the great unknown and humbly share, with whoever is interested, some of my rambling thoughts. I will be starting slowly, (just a thought or two every now and then – is that indecisive enough?), and I offer up my words with the strong acknowledgment that I do not profess to hold all the answers, but simply desire to be a companion on the journey together.
Oh, and I will try to “never say never” ever again!