Come Read My Blog as I Help Promote Stupidity

There’s this interesting aspect of blogging and social media that I’m caught up in. Here’s how the scenario plays out.

Step One – Some crazy pastor or politician or ignoramus posts a blog or shares something ridiculous on Facebook or Tweets something stupid.

Step Two – We blog about it or share it on Facebook with all of our friends or retweet it to our followers, along with our disparaging comments and proof that what this person said is one of the dumbest things we’ve ever heard.

Intended Result – To prove, with our superior logic or higher level of morality or more graceful approach to life that this person is a complete idiot and what they said was ridiculous.

Actual Result – More people than ever hear this person’s message, a message that we consider to be uninformed, or a poor example of Christianity, or an illogical approach to life.

* * * * *

Just a few days ago this very thing happened. A few people I follow posted blogs basically saying, “This is ridiculous. Can you believe this person would say this?” So I clicked on the link and watched the silliness in real life. I never would have even heard about this particular thing without them pointing out how wrong it was. I certainly never would have watched it if they hadn’t provided the link.

Why do we so willingly provide PR for people we disagree with? 

If the offending person called up my friends and said, “Hey, help me promote this,” I doubt they would do so. Yet we do it without being asked.

* * * * *

Alise Wright wrote an excellent post about what she did when faced with this very situation yesterday: she knitted.

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary tweeted: “Sometimes in our effort to combat the crazy, we elevate it.”

My initial response is, “Hey, stop helping these folks spread their messages. Ranting against them is only tuning people in to what they are saying.”

But I’ve done it in the past, and I’ll probably do it again.

Isn’t it good to speak out against people that spread confusion? Shouldn’t we combat messages that hurt people?

What do you think? When our rants help spread a message that might otherwise go unheard, are our rants counterproductive? Or should we always speak out against that which is wrong? Is it possible to do this in a way that doesn’t “elevate the crazy”?

28 Replies to “Come Read My Blog as I Help Promote Stupidity”

  1. my two cents:

    cent 1) there is nothing new under the sun which means that stupidity is never “new” or “news,” so conversing about it MIGHT be netter than ignoring the elephant in the room

    cent 2) as they say, no press is bad press, so yes, you are helping the cause of anyone you highlight…to some degree.

    (cliche heavy on a tuesday morning)

  2. While I agree that we may not want to give attention to certain fringe efforts, I think we are often reacting to events that seem to typify things that have bothered us for a long time. Certainly, we have an obligation to stick with facts and not sensationalize things. Our first responsibility is to ourselves and our readers to make sure we are being constructive every step of the way.

    To your point, though, we do need to think about whether we want the issue to receive more attention. We can only hope that the media catches on this ethical dilemma.

    1. You said it much better than I did, Ed. Great post. I love this line: “Offensive celebrities need to be drowned out by a counter-message so that they can fade into their own obscurity.”

  3. Good questions, Shawn. I think one of the challenges here is that with often try to respond to things quickly – especially via social media – so our responses may be too pithy or simple when what we need is a good discussion and clear analysis.

    I have certainly done my share of tweeting and sharing these things, but lately, I’ve been trying to hold back on those forums and take it to the blog where at least I can articulate more fully what I think and hopefully engage people in a real conversation about it.

    That said, I don’t think we should ignore things that we see as wrong, but we certainly should be wise about how we respond.

  4. Another downside is that we poison our own brains. I just spent 2 weeks off deeply immersed in reading Christian blogs. I learned about Mark Driscoll, “To Train Up A Child” and the deaths resulting from that book, POTSC and all of the horrible things for which priests and pastors need to be pardoned, Romney and the “cult” of Mormonism, etc. I am not filled with more grace aas a result of my explorations; I am filled with rage. The only reason I don’t walk away from the whole Christian mess is God. If I had retweeted any of it, I’d just be stirring the pot and fueling my rage.

  5. No, no, no. I CROCHETED. ;-D

    But yeah, I do this all the time. Even in my post, I still quoted him & linked to the full sermon (partly for context & partly because I hoped that people wouldn’t watch an hour long sermon instead of the original 7 minute clip).

    I think I do try to retweet stuff that is life affirming as much (hopefully more?) than I tweet stuff that makes me sick to my stomach. I hope that my love to hate ratio is tipped heavily to the love side. And I’m thankful that most of my heavily read posts are about things that may be controversial, but aren’t simply calling more attention to stupid things people do/say (though some certainly are).

    For me, I have to check my motivations. Am I writing about the crazy because it actually hurts me or am I writing because I want more blog hits? I don’t think either is necessarily bad, but I at least want to be honest about it because both are going to give the person that I disagree with some press.

    1. Oh, boy. Knitting…crocheting…I am not fluent in the realm of anything involving needles or yarn or thread…or whatever crocheting involves…

      Thanks for your take on this. It’s an intriguing topic for me, and I’m glad so many folks are sharing their perspectives.

  6. For me a lot of this comes down to my motive . . . am I trying to ridicule or demean someone that I feel is misguided or deceived? That is the time to shut up and do nothing. If however, God is directing me to speak truth and righteousness in a spirit of love into a situation, then I need to follow the promptings of the Spirit, and speak out. One thing Jesus did, sometimes he confronted and spoke to people publicly, other times he shared and conversed with them privately . . . I know I need to focus more on the person, and the position they are coming from. Life is after all not about my beliefs or desires – it is about the truth God and who he is.

    1. Motive is big. When my blog rants end up getting loads of traffic, it’s hard not to go that way more than I should…

  7. Such an interesting discussion here…and more along the type we need to be having: carefully measured words intended to explore an issue rather than to tear down a person and in the process elevate his platform.

    I often giggled through the preseason of football the past few years as the media continuously brought to me attention Brett Favre. Will he or won’t he? Fact is, if they hadn’t said anything, it would not have been an issue.

    I am a quick to react type. My husband is not. When I find myself getting fired up about something, I TRY to bounce my outrage off him. He usually asks me: “To what end?” Indeed. Does my voice add to the conversation something new? Is it true? It is kind? It is necessary?

    If not, then I rant and rave in the privacy of my house and choose to walk away.

  8. You just articulated very well what’s been on my mind for a while. I have also observed this trend, and I am encouraged by your thoughtful response.

    What concerns me is that we are so quick to apply our critical thinking, but what does it look like to the world when Christians are volleying blame back and forth at each other across the internet? Christ taught that His followers would be identified by, and even appeal to, the world by our love and our unity.

    Also, I’m not convinced that the best way to make a point is through backlash. I wrote an article for RELEVANT a few months ago based on this and a quote from Michelangelo which is what sets the pattern I’d like to try and follow: “Critique by creating.” Creating is the way in which we lead redemptive conversation, not in passively reacting to every “stupid” tweet.

    1. “Critique by creating”– I LOVE this.

      I tend to tune out the big personalities and their accompanying BS, which makes things nice and insular for me, but which may not do much in the way of critiquing. But I do try to create my own redemptive stuff, and I fail sometimes, and I keep trying. That’s about the best I’ve got for now. :)

      Thanks, Shawn, for these good thoughts.

  9. The personal motto I’d like to live my life by is … being so busy creating, sharing kindness, doing good, etc that I don’t have time for the BS of others, especially those I disagree with.

    But unfortunately I don’t always follow that motto …. sometimes I jump into the stinking pile before I think about what I’m doing. So thanks for this post … it’s a good reminder of how silly it is to stir or add to the pile of crap.

    And how about some wisdom from Billy Ray Cyrus (heard him say this in an interview one time)
    “The more you stir shit, the more it stinks.”

    1. Billy Ray Cyrus also said: “The more taco soup you stir, the better it smells.” Just sayin’. We could use some more of your soup.

  10. I think it is super easy for us blogger types to just hang back and take pot shots at those we disagree with. The keyboard it our artillery gun. You are asking some great questions.

    One thing I have done, unintentionally mind you, is have such a narrow focus on my blog that I simply can’t comment on all the dumb things that I see people do. At times, I have wanted to get into the fray, but I am pretty thankful that I have to stick with my topic.

    I can only write about whatever the next chapter of the bible is.

  11. These are great questions, Shawn. I’ve grown weary of these so-called controversies the past few months. With every rant either for or against someone, I wonder where the grace is in all of this. What message do we send the world about the way Christians treat one another? I know that I’m not likely to agree with certain pastors so I don’t read their blog or follow them on Twitter or FB. If they do or say something that truly (and I mean truly) warrants a response, the media will report it and then I will determine whether I need to say something or not. And really, unless I have a personal relationship with said person, my words are not likely to further discussion or shed light on what change needs to occur. I’m more of a “confront in love” type of person, instead of an open letter writer. But to each their own.

  12. I think it’s social accountability. I’m currently watching Survivor which is a much smaller community, as is any sort of small group. If someone says something outrageous in a small group, most likely it will get addressed by the others. I think that is what is happening on a larger scale with social media and other media.

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