Monkey handles gun – oh shoot!
I am not on Facebook; or on Twitter – at least not yet.
And it is not because I am a technological dinosaur. I am fairly seriously into the new technologies – but in very targeted and, for me, developmental ways.
When they add some more hours to my day, I fully intend to get on board with the new media social networks.
As it stands, I want to develop myself in those things that are critical to my significant engagement of life; and, of course, I want recreation of a quality kind too.
I have not found anything better than old-fashioned reading to help me accomplish those things.
And while Facebook, Twitter, et al clearly provide lots of stuff for you to read, the titbittish, digital “bites” approach to the use of the mind has not yet appealed to me – so far, I like full course meals.
So, I read books and other substantial, thoughtful material. Some fiction and a whole lot of non-fiction.
Yet, I feel I don’t have enough time to read. And the Internet sites that make life seem like a social contact sport don’t add hours to your life.
But there are people reading and writing their lives away on the various newer technological social outlets.
Michelle Obama, responding to the online flak she got about her role in the February 24 Academy Awards, with people talking about her “bangs” and all, “attributed the chatter to a culture shift that has spawned legions of bloggers, tweeters and others who talk about anything and everything all the time”, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s like everybody’s kitchen table conversation is now accessible to everybody else, so there’s a national conversation about anything.”
On the local front (he said, with a straight face), I heard about this guy who, last week, used Facebook to confess extramarital sins. And he mentioned, by name, with whom he had sinned.
It seems our chap thought he was on some sort of penitence pilgrimage. And he was hoping, so the report goes, that with the help of his church, he would be able to move on from spiritual strength to spiritual strength. Who fool you, man?
Now, if he was talking about masturbation, some people would probably say: “Well, at least he do it to heself” – meaning that in going public (well, they could mean that in going pubic, too) he was only implicating himself. But his public exposure of his “outside woman” has been roundly criticized.
Since all this is supposedly in the domain of Christian action, I thought about the most direct statements in The Bible about confessing.
I think the best known is in James 5:16: “Confess your faults one to another.” And then there is this in Matthew 5:23, 24: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift . . . [and] go and be reconciled to your brother . . .”.
Neither of these passages seems to suggest anything but private engagement.
Whatever the verdict on this man’s Internet disclosures, the broader public (make sure an “l” in there this time) issue this kind of thing points up is that, today, many can be enticed to, and ensnared through, a variety of means for which they lack the requisite “knowing” (as older people used to say).
We know the egotistical, the spiteful and the sneaky may be right at home with the new media’s oh-so-easy access to getting yourself out there and their incredible reach, but those very attributes are traps for the naive, the inarticulate, the rash, the ignorant, the indiscreet and the unwise.
Most people’s ability to use language well, to think carefully and wisely and to exercise self-control and tact has not kept pace with the speed of the Internet or with the speed at which egotism, imprudence and a thirst for instant gratification can drag one along these days. Since the new means allow such free rein to self-indulgence, there has been a corollary diminution in self-censorship and sensitivity to others.
So, things that on second thoughts (or third thoughts) would not have been publicized are put out at first thought.
In an earlier time, we knew that whatever we wrote (even in diaries – for there, too, we had to be very careful just in case our words found themselves under the glare of the wrong eyes) was going to be judged for taste, propriety, morality, character, wisdom and more before our thoughts and experiences saw the light of a public day – and that inspired circumspection. Not today.
Nowadays, when someone takes to tapping out a few things on Facebook and other social networks, it is frequently going to be a case of “monkey handling gun” – with the safety catch off.
• Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor. Email [email protected]