One of the things that grieves me about the social media era is the way that we cordon ourselves off into ideological echo chambers where we don’t have to interact with anyone from the other side. I think this is a real tragedy and I’m very passionate about not living that way. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I’m a progressive who needs conservatives around as conversation partners. That being said, I’m done with trolls. If you troll me, you’re going to get unfriended, which is what happened recently when someone who took exception to my last post about carrying the rainbow flag at the Virginia conference expressed himself in a trollish way.
When I say trolling, this is the kind of thing I’m talking about:
“So I guess you’re saying willful, unrepentant sin is ok to you? As a pastor, you’re officially endorsing sin?”
Yes I’ve done it too. It makes us feel so clever and good about ourselves to hammer off these little darts of sarcasm at complete strangers on the Internet. Maybe there are people who are actually too stupid to understand the difference between sarcastic questions like this and genuine questions. If you ask a question that no rational person would ever possibly answer yes to, then what you’re doing is not conversation; it’s trolling. The reason we troll is because of this strange belief that we have in the social media era that we’re engaged in a perpetual battle for our world’s narrative. These “questions” are not actually questions; they are attempts at narrative manipulation. In this case, the attempt is to narrate LGBT identity as “willful, unrepentant sin.”
Trolls make the same assumption that political attack ad designers make: that peoples’ minds can be controlled by saturating their visual space with your catch-phrases and talking points. You don’t need to be polite or persuasive. You just need to blast your narrative out far and wide. And if nobody challenges you, then you win the argument. It reminds me of driving through Latin American towns during election season where there are fewer regulations about where you can plaster your political signs and they literally saturate all the visual space and make the town look filthy.
I do want to be in conversation with all kinds of people. I believe that God has a lot to teach me through people who disagree with me. Don’t betray what God has to teach me through you by being an arrogant, sarcastic troll in how you present yourself. Because if you’re the one who’s supposed to save me from my erroneous ways, then don’t think God is going to be pleased as punch with you when you stand before his throne and he reminds you that your trolling was the reason I didn’t listen to you.