I’ve been hanging out amongst the residents of the interwebs for a long time now. This blog has existed, in one form or another, for seven years. Before that I enjoyed myself thoroughly on the Amazon Christianity discussion forum. Before that was MySpace. (Remember Tom?)
Online life can be fun, engaging and surprisingly deep.
It can also be disheartening. Even nasty.
On Sunday night I briefly wrote about the howling over Focus on the Family’s small article (actually a Q&A piece) regarding vaccination in their magazine, Thriving Family. The response of a certain intensely opinionated blogger* caught my attention. This blogger is out-and-out offended that nobody from Focus on the Family has picked up on or crafted a statement about the response. While avoiding telling anyone to engage in bad web etiquette, this blogger made sure to say that it was important for any followers who were equally offended to publicly explain on the Focus on the Family Facebook page why support is being withdrawn. The people have taken up the torch.
The flames leap high.
It’s shameless fit-throwing. While I do not think that anyone has to be a fan of Focus on the Family in order to be a Christian, what is happening on the organization’s page is sad. Negative, one-star reviews are popping up and right and left because this blogger has purposefully stirred the pot on an issue that should not be this heated or divisive. This is not a litmus test of salvation. Yet every time a new post comes up in the feed, no matter what it’s about, followers of this blogger comment with a link to the response. All because Focus on the Family maintains a position of supporting vaccination (and medicine in general; some comments are mixed) and because nobody in the organization has opened up a forum for debate.
Except Focus on the Family isn’t obligated to publish an in-depth, thesis-length piece on vaccinations. Or medicine. Or why the sky isn’t purple. They aren’t obligated to respond to every single person with access to a computer and a blog. Such a thing would be nigh unto impossible.
So the ranting? It’s distracting. It’s immature.
Again, you don’t have to be a fan of the organization to be a Christian. But you also don’t need to flame a group that has worked for decades to help families. If their stance on vaccination bothers you, fine. Great. Don’t listen to their programs, purchase their materials or send them money. Move on.
Spamming and trolling never win an argument. Never. Like I said, I’ve been around the internet for a long time. I’ve made connections with many bloggers and site operators. And we just lurv spam. We just adore trolls. Send me a link once and I’ll gladly look. Engage in honest, respectful dialogue with me and I’ll talk. I’ll listen. The second you start screaming is the second I think you’re a nutcase, an attention-seeker or just plain arrogant and want nothing to do with you. Shouting only makes me close my ears. Everyone else I know who operates online feels the same.
Christians, this is NOT how we behave. We do not throw fits. We do not engage in histrionics. We do not get so everlastingly full of ourselves that we work, however cunningly, to undercut a legitimate ministry. These are the attitudes and antics of toddlers, not Spirit-filled adults.
Worse, it’s what one non-believer called “Christian cannibalism” as she watched the fracas unfold.
It’s the Enemy cackling with glee.
* I am choosing to not share the name of this person because I don’t want to drive traffic to the site or the blog’s Facebook page. Based on the information provided in this post, you can figure it out for yourself. Please do. Go and make your own decision. Feel absolutely free to disagree with everything I’ve written. Feel free to tell me what you think.
I realize that I walk a fine line here. I don’t want to tear this blogger or this blogger’s followers to pieces. I don’t question their salvation or the sincerity of their beliefs regarding vaccinations and medicine. I don’t deny them the right to voice their opinions in an appropriate manner. Nevertheless, what they are doing is wrong.
How do I know? I chose to interact with them. It was a highly discouraging experience.
And why is this so clearly under my skin and dear to my heart? Why have I written several posts in the last few months about illness and medicine? Because my body is torn apart every day. The bodies of many I love are torn apart every day. We struggle. We suffer. We simply don’t need the additional stress of the ever-growing health-and-wealth, just-eat-organic-and-you’ll-be-fine-no-matter-what, Jesus-doesn’t-want-you-to-go-to-the-doctor-ever-ever, vaccines-are-black-magic juggernaut. I can’t stand by and let it roll on unchecked.