We live in “the age of communication,” yet we do so little of it. The Internet, that marvel of technology that is supposed to bring us closer together, has become a vehicle for divisive speech and hate. We rant about what a politician did or didn’t do or should have done. We complain about neighbors, bosses, employees, and family members, airing our grievances before an international audience. Behind the veil of our computer and phone screens, we have abandoned all sense of propriety. We trust in the anonymity of the Web to protect us from the consequences of our words.
We make two errors here. First, we need to talk. We need conversations, real dialogues. Not platitudes and memes but honest communication. Sharing thoughts and ideas is necessary in growing a relationship with another. It’s even more critical when trying to understand someone you don’t agree with, and helping them to understand you. Facebook and Twitter aren’t good platforms for real communication because screen space is limited, and most people avoid long posts. Unfortunately, it’s hard to have a conversation in 150 characters.
Second, we’re mistaken if we believe that what we say won’t have consequences. No matter how you disguise your voice, your words will impact someone, for good or ill. “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man,” says James. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.” That goes for the computer keyboard as well.
That’s something to think about.