If you’re past the age of Mosaics and Busters, you might want to make sure you’re sitting down. In fact, you may want to hold on to your chair real tight. I’m using a style of language here that some may misinterpret. I’m doing it to make a point. So “Frankie says relax” before you read on . . .
“Jerk: Slang . a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person.” Not a cuss word. Source.
According to recent studies (you know, the same ones that show that research is known to cause cancer in rats), if two Christians disagree with one another online for more than three consecutive days, there is a 97.3% chance that one of them will end up calling the other a “child of Satan” or a near-equivalent.
With that in mind, here are ten sure-fire ways to perfect the art of being a jerk online:
1. Move from arguing the substance of a disagreement to attacking the person with whom you disagree. This is called an ad hominem argument. Attack the messenger when you disagree with their message. People often do this when they can’t win an argument.
Example: “I just read your view on the atonement of Christ. You are a first-class heretic, obviously someone who has a black heart. In fact, my discernment tells me that you are the spawn of Satan. May God have mercy on your soul!”
2. Assume what other people think and believe rather than asking them directly. And state your assumption about what they think and believe as though it were gospel fact to others. Too many Christian assume what other people believe without actually going to them and asking. I’m always amazed when Christians do this.
3. Write things to or about your fellow sistas and bruthas in Christ that you would never have the gall to say to their faces. In other words, play the part of a gutless wonder and a spineless coward.
4. Don’t read a blog post or comment carefully. Instead, read “into it,” jump to conclusions, then go off (or go snarky) on the blogger or commenter. To be more specific, never ask clarifying questions about something you just read (such as, “Maybe I’m not understanding you correctly, but are you saying xyz?” . . . or . . . “If what you’re saying is true, what is your response to abc?”). Nope. Just lay into the person after you’ve “read into” their post or comment. Ask no questions in a gracious manner, only make statements and accusations.
5. Write something online when you are angry or your feelings have just been hurt. Give no time to bring it to the Lord. Stone that angel who is telling you to wait because you’re not in the Spirit. Instead, let your emotions control your reaction.
6. Presume to know what another person is thinking and assume you know the motives behind their words and actions. Put yourself in the seat that only God Almighty occupies and impugn their intentions. (Anytime a person says something like, “You said that because” . . . or “You were trying to xyz when you said or did abc” that person is judging the motives of another mortal.)
7. Engage in “drive-by” character assassination by posting a comment on other people’s blogs that smears the reputation of another child of God. Don’t post your real name and your real email address when you leave the flaming comment. And hope that the blogger is sloppy enough to not notice the comment so they don’t delete it immediately. (As heinous and immature as this is, I’m sorry to say that some “Christians” actually do this sort of thing. Interestingly, every comment left on a blog has an identifiable IP address. So it’s not that difficult to identify the person.)
8. If someone gives you a response, ignore their response and repeat your points over again. Have the attitude, “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” and disregard what they say. Just keep pushing the same points over and over again, hoping they will eventually agree with you.
9. With forethought and deliberation, completely misrepresent what another person has said or written, then play the victim. For instance, accuse someone of attacking others when they’ve attacked no one. Accuse them of holding to beliefs and ideas that they don’t hold to. Play on the fact that some Christians will believe whatever you write instead of going to the source to verify the accuracy of what you’re saying. While this is the height of fleshly activity, it’s fitting for the one who is perfecting the art of being an online jerk.
10. Forget what your Lord taught you. Defy your spiritual instincts and grieve the Holy Spirit of God by treating other people (especially those you don’t like) in a way that you would never want to be treated yourself. Post things online to and about others that you’d never want posted to and about you or your loved ones. In other words, claim you believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:12, but disobey them without wincing.
News Alert: The world is carefully watching how we Christians treat one another online. Keep this in mind the next time you sit in front of a computer and type something.
Just sayin’ . . .
For more on this issue, see also: