Online discussion: utterly useless in all forms?

Started by Chris Schelp, May 30, 2024, 02:37:45 PM

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Chris Schelp

My answer has become yes. (And yes, I fully realize the irony of that statement here, but bear with me.) Whatever perceived benefits may be present in the online forum, whether one such as this or the even more insidious social media form, are far outweighed at this point by the vast detriments involved, of which I mention only one: replying to pixels instead of to an actual human face makes it far easier (and, at this point, I might even suggest impossible to avoid) to speak in ways that are of no benefit and even are actively harmful and insulting to the neighbor while still allowing the one doing the reviling to maintain a bizarre sense of moral superiority. To that end: not that I have ever been a particularly active member here, but I (God willing, because I know my own human failing, and I know how easily I can fool myself into thinking that "well, just this one time I can say something quick that will be useful") will not be participating anymore past this post. I'm quite sure that I have been too hasty in some of my posts and have caused offense where no offense should have been given; for that, please forgive me. Quite simply, I do not like the (even more than usual) sinful person I become when I interact online...and I urge you all, if you have the desire, to examine yourself (and I really, truly, speak this to every single person here, and in fact to every single person who interacts with others online) and see if this is the eye that needs to be plucked out and thrown away. Again, in my own personal opinion, there may not actually be a person on earth for whom this is not true, but I can only speak authoritatively for myself. Discuss, if you so desire.

David Garner

I don't think it's utterly useless in all its forms. Believe it or not, this forum is one of the better ones out there, but I find all sorts of online forums and social media to be beneficial.

The Psalmist says "set a watch O Lord over my mouth, keep the door of my lips." Putting this into practice is often hard, and as you rightly note, it's easier in person (because we tend to refrain from saying or doing things that might make our nose hurt). But that doesn't mean the effort isn't worth it.

We fail at it, sure.  If you don't like the person you become online, taking a break is good.  I've had to leave certain forums and refrain from certain conversations online and I've lost friends over it, but at the end of the day, I have to guard the door of my own lips. I don't discuss politics on Facebook much anymore, and I tend to avoid forums where people are itching to fight about things. In doing that, I can say I've found more benefit than detriment to online discourse.

But by all means, if you find yourself tempted to speak or act in ways that you do not wish to engage in, do what you need to in order to find peace.  It's your soul, and nobody else's business.

I do thank you for raising the topic.  I think it's a good thing for all of us to consider.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Charles Austin

Utterly useless in a lot of forms, not all forms.
ELCA PASTOR. Iowa born and raised. And look at this. Here's the old 1960s protestor and critic of our government as virtually the only "love this country" patriot in this forum.

Brian Stoffregen

We learn from those who disagree with us. It either causes us to rethink our position and possibly change; or to find better arguments to maintain our position.

Talking with folks who agree with us doesn't challenge our beliefs and cause any change in thinking.

The difficulty is remaining calm, cool, and collected when our beliefs are attacked.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.


There are many drawbacks in internet communication.  There is no tone of voice or facial expression.  There is often little biographical information about the speaker to help us understand him as an individual.  It's easier to insult a guy you don't know while typing on your computer than if the fellow is sitting in front of you.  Having said all that, if we can look beyond our weaknesses and try to discern what the person who disagrees with us is saying and how he thinks, I believe that a forum such as this one is valuable.  Speaking for myself, when I go after someone with whom I disagree I intend nothing malicious.  How can you dislike somebody you don't even know?  When I am insulted or attacked, I don't take it personally.  Why should I?  The man who is attacking me doesn't know me.  With all respect, Mr. (Rev?) Schelp, I advise you to chill.  Extravagant and boisterous language doesn't necessarily denote hatred.  Some folks just talk that way. 

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