For the uninitiated, the world is currently dealing with yet another in a seemingly endless variety of ways that we can be special and different. This time we do it through our Internet fixation and we call it “social media.”
We are so anxious to convince ourselves that our every whim is of importance that we have begun to spew out comments with little thought.
Unfortunately, with the social media, with the Internet blogging sites, those thoughts move beyond the casual comments of a 1960s cocktail party and on to the permanence of a Gutenberg Bible.
It cam back to bite veteran movie critic Roger Ebert this week when he was “tweeting” about the tragic death of “Jackass” co-creator Ryan Dunn. Dunn and another man were killed in a one-vehicle car crash.
The originator of the weird stunt genre was apparently not attempting a stunt at the time of his death.
According to an Associated Press report, the movie critic wrote: “‘Jackass’ star Ryan Dunn, RIP. His Porsche flew through 40 yards of trees.’ He later tweeted, ‘Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive,’ referring to a photograph Dunn posted on Twitter early Monday showing himself drinking with friends just hours before the 3 a.m. crash.”
Presumably, those comments would have gone through an editor before they would have appeared in his regular column, and perhaps it would have been good for them to be edited before he sent them into the Internet.
They were quickly attacked as being insensitive, and perhaps they were.
What they certainly point out is the gravity that is being discovered in this new way of communicating.
That Gutenberg Bible mentioned earlier, dates back to about 1452.
This year, the King James Bible is celebrating 400 years in circulation.
And newspapers date back to that same era.
By comparison, the ability to express oneself electronically is in its infancy.
Telephones are scarcely a century old. Cell phones were unknown less than a generation ago. And the 24-hour blog access is newer still.
We are still inventing these media, but what is clear is that they are easily sweeping up what is worst in our culture.
There is a great deal of mean-spiritedness in our culture today and it is more and more frequently expressed in these media.
Too often, a desire to appear clever, to be quick and sharp and with it, are much more important to those who participate than are fairness and accuracy.
As is that case in all we do, we are in control of the tone of our communication in this mode, just as we are in all others.
If we, as a culture, chose to scream half-truths and known lies at each other, then we will have no one but ourselves to blame when civility is lost in our culture.
The only answer for those who are disgusted by this trend is to opt out of this mode of communication, lest they be exposed to the same hate that is being so blithely spread throughout our electronic culture.
— Chuck Smith