Friday, 11 July 2014

Facebook Highlight: Dave Armstrong and Personas On-line with In Person ... Your Heart Affects Your Words

Hello Everyone,

I follow the well-respected Catholic apologist, Dave Armstrong, on Facebook. Recently, he created a great post on how what we are online is no different from in person. Our heart/soul cannot lie, and despite how one person thinks that you can be nicer in person vs. online, it doesn't truthfully matter. Here's what Dave Armstrong has to say on the matter, and he's no hypocrite if you have viewed his writings at "Biblical Catholicism":


Someone noted that people are generally a lot nicer in person than they are online. This was my response (with quite a bit added presently):

If a person habitually acts like an ass online, it's still the same person who exists offline who chooses to do that, when it is totally unnecessary and wrong. They're either "acting" online (passive-aggressive, gossipy, slanderous, rude, juvenile garbage) or acting when they are "nice" in person. Something is fishy there. Otherwise, they would act with normal Christian charity whether online or in "real life." 

In other words, they are not two people, but one, who chooses to act differently (usually much worse) when online. Ethics and morality don't change according to venue or environment. They are what they are.

Of course, some folks simply have an uncontrolled tongue or a hot temper, or a tendency to run others down, for various possible reasons (besetting sins), and that comes out online as well as offline. I do agree that those sorts of faults get *magnified* online, but such behavior can't be blamed *solely* on lack of body language, inflection, tone, and all the rest, that has been noted hundreds of times.

People act in self-interested fashion. So, we have more to lose in person and we shape up. But online, many folks seem to feel that they can act like idiots and "get away" with it: almost like a know-it-all rebellious college kid out of town on one of the pathetic "breaks": where he or she feels that they can do any outrageous behavior and not be noticed by anyone they know. No boundaries or responsibilities . . . 

THAT'S how (sadly) too many people act online. I contend that this is the real person coming out (due to less social pressure to "behave"), and that we stand accountable for all the words we say (or type).

In the end, we are responsible for what we do; how we act. Does anyone think it will matter a hill of beans to God on Judgment Day whether our sins were committed via Internet writing or in vocal words in person? St. James' and St. Paul's and Jesus' warnings about the tongue and lack of charity apply here as much as anywhere else.

Thus, I've always, from the beginning of my online participation (1996) insisted that folks should act exactly the same here as they would in real life (like a Christian!), and cease with the games, the anonymity (with the allied silliness of nicknames), the one-upsmanship, being the big shot of a forum or venue, the cliques, the disposable friendships, the endless vanity and pretensions of self-importance, factions, divisions, and "groupthink" -- and all the other nonsense. But of course, all of that reflects real life, too.

My conclusion is: folks are online what they are "in real life": even if the "real life" persona may be primarily hidden in their hearts, and is not outwardly observed. What comes out of our "mouths" [or, keyboards] proceeds from the heart, after all, and the bad tree produces bad fruit, etc. (Sermon on the Mount stuff). We are all in need of God's grace on a continual basis (primarily from the sacraments) in order to be and act as God would have us to be.

Some good food for thought from a true, orthodox Catholic. Pax, Julian. 

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