Monday, August 16, 2010

Words in the World

I have been thinking about the impact of words in the world. As a person who endeavors to bring the Word into the world, I am walking with a blog, and Facebook and multiple electronic ways of communication at hand. I am often glad for the people I have been able to be in touch with that otherwise might be out of reach. As a person who enjoys writing I am blessed to be able to stay connected with wonderful reflections and musings of others that have enriched my own process and hopefully even improved it(or at least I hope so). But for all of the wonderful aspects of rapid fire communication there is a rising trend that I wrestle with. For those of us who blog and serve in ministry there is the question of transparency- how revealing is too revealing? A question each person resolves for themselves. I resolved to err on the side of caution and grace.
But what about Facebook?
Years ago there was a commercial for a shampoo where the thrilled consumer told two friends about the product, and they told two friends, who told two friends, and so on and so on... Each time the telling happened the number of photos on the screen increased. Facebook is like that. Whatever I say is then in the feed of the people who are my "friends"- all 300 of them (thinking it's time for a purge but that is a separate consideration). But what it also means is that when I am on my friends' pages I see everything else that all of their friends, who may not be my friends, are saying.
Which leads me to my concern. Lately I have seen a real rise in carping about a congregation's practices or processes in Facebook which is a much broader forum than one person's friend list. Let's say that something is happening in a ministry setting to which you belong or which you are serving which has made you mad or frustrated, or you think is just plain wrong.
Do you post about it where many more than your intended audience will see and dissect it? Do you account for the difference between how face to face communication and electronic communication are perceived? Would we stand before said congregation in a room and say what is being said?
When we blow off steam in this way, what is the purpose? If a change is desired does anyone think public airing will aid or hinder such a path? What if we are wrong in our perceptions, if there is more to this than we know or meets the eye?
Luther's explanation of bearing false witness exhorts us to always place our neighbor in the most positive light- as we endeavor daily to live out our faith, there is an ever greater challenge to how our words impact our world and how our words affect our credibility to proclaim the Word.

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