One final difference that we have to recognize when we’re debating someone online as opposed to debating someone in person is that the Internet is forever. Clearly, sometimes words can cause pain for a long time, and words may never be forgotten if they are particularly helpful. However, memory also has a way of dulling some of the pain that words can cause. In the virtual world, it is pretty easy to remember these harmful things that were said. Even though plenty of things can be deleted, removed or hidden, as we have learned from a variety of political scandals over the years, nothing really ever goes away even when you think it does.
As a result, we should always exercise a degree of caution particularly as Christians, but everyone should also exercise this same degree of caution. We want to make sure that we keep our testimony as God focused as possible, and it is quite possible that some of the things we can say online will detract from that testimony. Again, this can obviously happen in person as well, but the Internet never forgets.
It may seem obvious, and I think it is to some degree. Of course, the problem with that is that we forget what is obvious in the heat of the moment. Sometimes we say things that we regret, and there is a permanent record of that unfortunate statement. As just another piece of evidence that shows the Bible’s applicability not only ancient times, but also in 21st-century America, we still have this tendency to say things and get ourselves in trouble. The Bible has multiple warnings about speaking too quickly or unwisely. With the speed of information today, this is even more important I would argue that it ever has been.
I think that this entire week is a good eye-opener for me, and I hope it has been somewhat valuable for you. As an online content creator, I produce a lot of writing, and I say a lot of things on the Internet. Not only am I unable to see the response of those who read what I write, but I’m also tempted to create strawman arguments of those I really don’t know. The thing about all of those problems, as we talked about today, is that those problems may be around forever. I have put them online, and they are publicly available for anyone. If I was ever to run for President, I have a feeling that my website would be scrutinized and read more than it ever has been in the past because people would be looking for anything I said that could cause me problems down the road.
However, even more important, as a Christian, it would be incredibly problematic if something came out in the future that turned someone away from Jesus Christ for whatever reason. That would be awful, and I would feel terrible if that happened. As a result, I think I ought to be as careful as I can be when I write while also not shying away from Truth.