Henry Kissinger is reputed to have said “Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.”
I’m impressed that this is true not only in the world of academia but within some of the church and ministry circles in which I work. One of the dubious results of getting onto Twitter is to learn of some of the kerfuffles that arise with nationally known figures and ministries. There is one that broke this week, for example in which one blogger accused another, who works at a fairly conservative institution, of taking a position contrary to one this person actually holds, because this person participated in a dialogue with those holding a different position. It actually became a trending topic on Twitter!
You will notice that I have not named names. I really do not want to fuel this silliness, nor engage in what I would consider gossip, which really is a sin. What I want to call attention to is the “bubble” people engaging in these kinds of kerfuffles operate in.
My son, who is a pretty thoughtful Christian and an active blogger helped me see this last night. I was mentioning some of this stuff and he gave me this frown, and basically said, “you know dad, most of us really aren’t interested in this stuff.” Thanks be to God for a son who keeps me grounded in reality!
It reminded me that most people are really concerned about making ends meet, caring for aging parents or sick children, and more concerned about what kind of country, and what kind of world their children will inherit than in the latest intramural Twitter and blog war, particularly if it is between supposedly religious people!
What is also disturbing is that the individual attacked is actually trying to do something desperately needed in today’s climate — to walk in the tension of living by conviction and engaging in civil discourse without compromise rather than culture wars, with those who differ.
I suspect that the attacker might fall in the category of what is known in the social media world as a “troll”. And it strikes me as sad that such people live in a bubble of incredibly small stakes, mostly those of getting lots of notice, of stirring up controversy and gaining views.
Might it make more sense to get out of this blog and Twitterverse bubble and take food to a family dealing with someone sick, take time to listen to a friend who has just lost her job, or join a local prison ministry or even a choir making beautiful music.
It’s really easy to make one’s home in one or another social media bubble. If, like the academics, we become vicious in those bubbles, it is real and not virtual people we hurt. And the One who bursts all bubbles will call us to account one day for every hurtful word.