Faithwire Opinion is a platform to discuss opinions and points of view from a variety of perspectives and voices. The opinions or information put forth by contributors/authors are exclusive to them and do not necessarily represent the views of Faithwire.
We’ve created a culture that is absolutely possessed by an insatiable lust for turning people into mere objects. And no, I’m not just talking about rampant sexualization.
I’m speaking more specifically about the troubling penchant that too many of us have for embracing a herd-like mob mentality fueled by profuse anger and unrestrained banter, as we clot together in an amalgam of fury and take to the Internet to collectively lambaste a pointed target.
The recipe is almost always the same: Person A reads or sees something that outrages him or her, he or she turns to social media to spout off, persons B through Z then see it and they, too, start rambling on — and, before you know it, there’s a mass of people and media outlets piling on.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The most recent example of this scenario surrounds Kathy Griffin and the now-infamous photo featuring her holding a faux decapitated head that resembled President Donald Trump. It was gross, deplorable, disgusting, inexcusable and a prime example of bad judgment and a desperate attempt at garnering attention gone wrong. The shock that resulted was certainly understandable and the aforementioned reactive formula, to a degree, warranted.
You know: it would probably be helpful if we all prayed for Kathy Griffin.
— Billy Hallowell (@BillyHallowell) May 31, 2017
But here’s the problem. So many of us — myself included — get so ginned up, so frustrated, so disgusted that we take that formula, put it on steroids and begin to take part in an elevated attack on people like Griffin without actually thinking deeper about the root causes or elements that are at play. And before you know it, the person or issue starts trending on Twitter, yielding a few thoughtful reflections sprinkled amid a sea of insane rants and personal attacks.
For all of the benefits that come along with social media — the ability to connect humanity like never before and the power to inform and educate the masses — it also encourages and even rewards our most guttural, self-serving and unrestrained reactions. As a result, too many of us are willing to say things that we would never dream of uttering to a person’s face.
In these scenarios, people let anger overtake them as they hide behind a keyboard and spout off with little regard for the impact of their words. Others get so consumed by the power of social media that the end goal of eliciting laughs, drawing attention to themselves or garnering the most re-tweets and shares possible ends up consuming them, numbing any normal sense of communicative sanity.
When these dynamics unfold, we stop seeing people like Griffin as human beings and suddenly view then as mere punching bags, pin cushions — or any object worthy of nothing more than our aimless typographical reflexes.
People like Griffin become the focal point of an outrage so intense that we totally forget about respect, consideration or decency.
Barron Trump saw a very long necktie on a heap of expired deli meat in a dumpster. He thought it was his dad & his little heart is breaking
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) May 31, 2017
Here’s why that’s a problem: As Christians (though this should extend to all of humanity), we’re commanded to love others, even those who do or say stupid things. Gosh, even our enemies. The power, intensity and draw of social media can often lead us to forget these essential facts of the faith, but as I was tweeting my own frustrations over Griffin’s antics, I was suddenly overpowered by a realization: I was spending quite a bit of effort expressing my anger, but virtually none praying for her.
Asking God to guide her. Hoping that, amid her self-inflicted pain, she’d see truth. Praying that the pretty terrible cultural moment would be a clarion call for us all to think deeper and ponder more before we act, post or speak.
Again, what Griffin did was wrong, but calling her names, slamming her endlessly and turning her into mere object to attack does little to help the situation, nor does it help to ease the profound lostness and lack of judgement that led her and her team to participate in that horrific photo shoot in the first place.
I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong. pic.twitter.com/LBKvqf9xFB
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 30, 2017
We all need prayer and Griffin isn’t exempt from that reality.
In so many ways both the posting of that image and segments of the instantaneous reaction pose as troubling wake-up calls that hold the power to show us just how far we’ve fallen — a topic I address in my new book, “Fault Line: How a Seismic Shift in Culture Is Threatening Free Speech and Shaping the Next Generation.”
It’s time we think deeper, love harder, pray with more fervently. Sure, commenting on social media is fine, but we’re called to watch our words. There’s a profound difference between critique — and incessant attacks and excoriation. Let’s be better.