Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mean People Stink

My heart is so heavy. Probably not the best time in the world to express my thoughts about this but I'm going to go ahead with it all the same. I'm also in a great deal of pain as I somehow threw my back out last night. Sitting, standing, moving, breathing and blinking are all out of the question.

At any rate, Here I Rant:

"If you're going to be a blogger, you need to develop a thick skin".

I don't know about you, but I've seen this comment made so many times I've lost count.

I know that when some people make such a statement what they mean is that public writers shouldn't take every criticism as a personal attack. It's easy to do if you're an especially sensitive person to begin with, but not a smart thing to do at all. For those who simply mean that, then I would agree that keeping a proper perspective and balance with such criticisms is very important. Receive the criticism but don't let it define you, if you know what I mean.

Yet, when I read that kind of above statement about becoming thick-skinned, what is implied is that you're going to incur the reactions of people that will be mean spirited, insulting, nasty, cruel, personally degrading and even vulgar or profane. I know for myself, in the last 3 years (my blogiversary passed in June and I don't even recall celebrating, go figure) I have seen some Christian bloggers that are really good at being REALLY mean to people that disagree with them, and mean in a snarky "too bad, if you don't like it, get over yourself" kind of way. Along with the comment threads that pat the blogger on the back with a hardy har har you're so funny type of encouragement. Some I've seen come back and apologize and grow in their writing (which is very cool) and others never apologize at all. Ever. They just become more smug all the time.

You know, it's not funny, nor clever, nor even Christ-like in any way, to belittle people or make them the punchline of your jokes or insults. In fact, it's quite sinful to do such a thing. It's mean, it hurts people, and it's malicious. Last time I checked, that's a work of the flesh, kids - the stuff that God gives up reprobates to freely practice. Check the other doozies on that list in Romans 1:28-31 then see what we're to do with such trash in Col. 3:8. I could easily list LOTS of other places that the Scriptures address a malicious, mean spirited character.

Why are Christians supposed to develop a thick skin to be around other Christians? Are we really that cold hearted that we just do whatever we want, say whatever we want and who cares who gets hurt in the process? No way, I don't buy that for a second.

You really want to know what I think? Well, I'll tell ya...

I think there are some folks who say that about being thick skinned because they are the kind of folks that will make excuses to belittle someone. They KNOW they're mean, and they want to be able to keep being mean and make YOU think that it's your problem if you can't handle what they say to you, or about you. I think they want to justify their raunchy attitude and the only way they can do that, is if they somehow make YOU think it's your problem, and not theirs. Yep, that's what I think because I've seen it happen to much to think otherwise.

Look, I know I can be mean. I don't go out of my to way to be mean, but I can be condescending and all that junk just as much as anyone else can. I don't LIKE it that I can be that way, but it's a truth about me. Not only do I not like it, I would never tell someone to get over themselves if what I said actually hurt them. Instead, I'd feel like garbage and rightly so - and I would seek to make it right with that person and seek the Lord's grace to make me not so mean in the future. Does this make me holier-than-thou? No, it makes me embarassed to admit that I can be just as caustic as anyone else, but I offer that admission with reluctance because I despise it about myself.

The thing is, for me anyway, there is a world of difference between attacking ISSUES and attacking people. For example, in discussing issues if someone were to say "well you're just an idiot if you actually believe that!", what that person has actually done, is fire a personal insult at the other person and completely departed from attacking the issue. It's now personal, and you can't tell me that if someone called YOU an idiot, you wouldn't take it personally, even in some small way. Personal insults hurt, I don't care who you are.

Can you imagine telling someone that if they become converted to Christ, that they have to develop a thick skin before they find a local church to join? I know none of us are perfect, and I know we all have things that the Lord is working on us and through us to refine us - but I can't for the life of me imagine having to tell someone that, before joining a local church. Yes it's good to remember we're all sinners saved by grace, but to excuse sinful behavior by advising a thick skin, rather than rebuking the sinful behavior to begin with, seems all backwards to me.

I really dislike mean people. I passionately dislike it within my own personality, and I can't imagine why any Christian would want to excuse the conduct. There is no excuse. Ever. I don't care who says there is, my Bible says there isn't.

Rant over.

Oh, and in case anyone might be wondering if this is in response to any blog, or particular blogger, the answer is no - it's a general rant directed at me first, then everyone else next. Apply as needed, if needed, when needed. This comes in part due to my reading of the book of James this past weekend. There's some great wisdom in there on this very subject, and it applies to Christian blogging just as much as it applies to Christian anything else. If you're a Christian, it applies.