Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Get Stabbed to Death

Happy ides of March. As you recall, Julius Caesar was slain on this date in 44 B.C. Because of that, it seems like a fitting day to talk about online forums.

The conspirators who killed him stabbed Julius Caesar twenty-three times. If you’ve ever participated in some of these forums, you may have found yourself in a similar situation. If you’re a glutten for punishment, go over to the Christianity forum on Amazon.com and post something that sounds even remotely Christian. Before the day is out, all the atheists over there will swarm your post and tell you all the reasons why you are an idiot for believing what you do. If you want your punishment to be a little less severe, post something in support of a Christian book over on the Kindle forum instead. They won’t slam Christianity quite as hard, but plenty of them will make it clear that they don’t like Christian books and you won’t have many who will come to your aid.

Forums display the opinions of the small number of people who participate, but when you are on the opposite side of the argument from the most vocal people it can seem like the whole world is against you. I suspect that is why many people avoid forums. Online forums rarely discuss anything meaningful. Occasionally, someone will ask for product information. Some people are there to promote their products. The rest tends to be about what idiots the people who disagree with the poster are.

You can’t win. You may enter a discussion hoping to learn from other people’s point of view, but many of the other participants will assume that you are there with something to prove. Even if you ask a question, someone is sure to think you are stating what you believe about something. If you try to explain how they misunderstood, they will not listen. Stab after stab they will make at you until you wonder why you even bothered.

On one hand, online forums seem like an opportunity to tell people about Jesus. That would be nice, but forums are much too noisy for that. I’m not saying that God can’t use forums to reach people, but it doesn’t seem like the best way. There is far too much anger on forums and even the most eloquent Christians may have difficulty conveying that they are speaking with a voice of reason.

Do you participate in forums? Why or why not?

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