Speak Loudly and Be a Big Jerk

Terrible Tom Sucks

…and I’m going to write a blog post about it!

There’s a blog that a lot of my friends on Facebook like. I won’t name it here, but it frustrates me. It frustrates me because, while it sometimes espouses views I agree with, it almost always does it in an aggressive, antagonistic way.

If someone says something bad about a post he wrote, the author doesn’t just respond–he burns them to the ground. Insults, ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, the whole 9 yards. This is in a blog post, mind, not private correspondence. No matter how cruel he is, or what he says, or how unkind he is toward those who disagree with him, his comments section is always full of cheerleaders agreeing that, yes, all welfare is just theft, or, of course that person who disagreed with you on how to raise kids deserved a 2,000 word polemic about how stupid they are.

It’s bad enough that these kinds of responses are embraced and applauded (and not just on the internet–talk radio is almost exclusively populated with the same sort of “dialog”), but to see so many friends sharing these things, which they presumably agree with, is disheartening. Sometimes it’s people I respect; other times it’s people I barely know. In all cases, it makes me think a tiny bit less of their judgement when they support someone who can’t seem to discuss things without sharpening his blades.

The worst thing, for me as a Christian, is that this guy is “one of us”. A good chunk of his posts are religious in nature, and they’re no less defensive or abrasive than the ones about politics and parenting. In James 3:6, the Bible says, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” In Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” And that’s not all there is.

Maybe it’s hypocritical of me to write this at all. I know it could be read as an attack post itself–but I’m tired of it. Tired of seeing the name of Christ besmirched by this guy, and plenty of others, who claim the name but can’t be bothered to extend grace to anyone who gets on their nerves. There’s a time for disagreement and even for sharp words–Jesus even said a few himself–but personal attacks, condescension, being a jerk? No.

When I write, I try to remember the Golden Rule–that’s from the Bible too–”Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” And maybe that’s what this guy, and guys like him, are trying to do. But no one likes being attacked, being the butt of a joke, being treated like an idiot. Maybe we can start weeding that out and make the world a little better place for everyone, Christian or not.

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11 thoughts on “Speak Loudly and Be a Big Jerk

  1. Le Clown says:

    Brent,
    You are wrong, I am right, and Lorde’s song is racist, and Maria Kang is condescending, and everyone who disagrees is a donkey.
    Le Clown

    • Eric,
      I am right, you are wrong, and Lorde’s song is the best piece of music ever written by an Australian and will likely bring about racial harmony, and Maria Kang is life-affirming, and everyone who disagrees is a hero.
      Le Brent

  2. I agree with your sentiment that too much of our public discourse is loud and aggressive. It leaves no room for people with differing viewpoints to have any sort of dialogue or attempt to understand another’s point of view.

  3. Sun-dipped African says:

    The anonymous, detached nature of the Internet allows people to say and do whatever without worrying about the repercussions. It is this central feature of the net that has for the most part nullified any possibility of intelligent and sensible debate on an online platform, which is why I found your post here refreshing and reaffirming. It’s good to know not everyone goes at their keyboards with sharpened blades.
    Also before I forget, I’d like to say I’m becoming a big fan of your blog!

  4. godtisx says:

    Well, making the world a better place for others – Christian or not? Is what Christ was about. I think there are all different styles, the problem is this person of which you speak is normally taken to be the representative of Christians in the eyes of non- believers. And that can be really problematic for endless reasons. :[

  5. rarasaur says:

    I liked this one very much. I’m notoriously bad at commenting so it took me… uh, a million days (approximately) to get back to it and tell you so– because I thought I’d come up with something really thoughtful or profound. But I got nothin’. 🙂 Instead, just… I liked this one. I wish more people would read, and internalize, these thoughts. I think it might make the whole world a little, well… easier. 🙂 Thanks. 🙂

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