It would be very easy to list a hundred and one ways in which the influence of the internet can be or has been used for evil. I could easily cite the spread of fake news—a phrase that’s become so buzzed the idea itself has lost all meaning—or the danger in online bullying. The fact is, “being on the internet” means, if you want, a tremendous degree of anonymity. Sure, websites track your data (though how and why is grossly misunderstood), and big companies are very interested to know your browsing habits, especially big retailers, but I’m talking about the average person. If you want, you can be very anonymous online, and with that comes great danger. A person might never dream of telling someone to their face that they were an idiot but online, when your name isn’t your name but a handle you’ve given yourself in order to remain anonymous? Anything is fair in that case. Matthew Martin might not call you an idiot (I mean, I probably would, but forget it I’m rolling), but “Goomba_Stomper_84” might. The internet can be a terrible tool for evil.
On the other hand, I could extol all the great virtues of having easy access to information and interconnectivity with people all over the world. I have friends in other states, regions, even countries that I am able to keep in touch with thanks to the power of the internet. Likewise, the web can be a wonderful forest of rabbit holes that one could stumble into, get lost in, and spend hours learning new things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a word, a phrase, a reference to history, etc, and thought to myself “what does that mean…” Only to, immediately, double-click the word, right-click, select “search Google for___” and learned. In all of human history it has never been easier for everyone alive to learn. What a great thing it is—that everyone from the very poor on their local library’s computer, to the very wealthy using the latest phone—can have access to the same pool of information. If you don’t know history, you can’t appreciate how revolutionary that is compared to how things were just a hundred years ago. The internet can be a tremendous tool for good.
The internet is neutral.
It is nothing. It has no agenda, no goal, no motive or consciousness. It is merely a tool that can be used however its user sees fit. What shape it takes, what content it has, is solely at the mercy of those who add to it. It’s a box of our creation filled with things of our choosing. The internet is us, the world, humanity.
The internet is you.
What will you do with it, Christian? You are always going to be in the minority. Jesus said that you will walk a difficult and narrow path while the rest of the world will take an easy and broad way (Matthew 7:13-14). But you know what else is in the minority? One little flicker of light in a very big, very dark room…
And yet, no matter how huge the darkness is, if that light is shining, it can be found and it can be reached. Jesus said that we should let our light shine so that people may see our good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:16). The internet is humanity and humanity is mostly mired in darkness. The internet needs more lights.
The internet is you, so what has been your contribution to it?
Are you adding happiness or misery?
Are you adding worry or confidence?
Are you driving wedges or finding common ground?
Are you hating or are you loving?
Are you adding light or just more darkness?
Are you using the tool to brighten people’s day, or contribute to the darkness? And you may think “I’m adding to the light because people need to know the truth about____!” or “I’m adding to the light because ______is corrupt and it’s an election year and people need to know!” And such like.
That’s not the Light I’m talking about and you know it.
Especially today, when there is so much anxiety already in the world, what are you doing with it? Are you adding to the problem or adding to the light?
Think about that before you hit [post].