Tony Jones the internet and reality TV

Tony Jones the internet and reality TV January 8, 2014

reality tv internet cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
I get challenged enough online to know what it’s like. It’s not easy. So, I’ll admit that when someone else gets challenged online it’s kind of like watching an accident. I just can’t help it. I want everyone to be okay. Honestly. But I just can’t seem to avert my eyes.

So yesterday when Tony Jones posted “Why Are You Still a Christian?” and proceeded to give his reasons, I couldn’t help but watch. I’m not an accident scene expert, but I can propose theories as to why it happened.

  1. Wrong signal: He signaled that it had to do with Jesus of Nazareth but went in a totally different direction.
  2. False sense of immunity: He said that “well over 95%” of people believe in God, so he will too as an act of solidarity. To say that atheism is “almost exclusively the purview of educated, white elites” and that’s why you remain a Christian, when in fact you are an educated, white elite, is like presuming your vehicle gives you immunity on the road. Rather, your vehicle is a weapon that needs to be driven with great care. The chances of you hurting others and yourself dramatically increase just by getting into your vehicle and getting on the road.
  3. Followed others into the accident: Saying that most people believe in God is the reason you do, even for the sake of solidarity, isn’t really the best reason to believe. One. But not a good one. Why does this remind me of this multi-car pileup in Wisconsin this year?
  4. Driving too fast: He also seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, as many of his commenters noted. The post seems to have been written in haste, and from my own experience that usually leads to trouble.

Jones tweeted during the aftermath of the accident:

“Today’s pst = When Atheists Attack. And here I was simply trying to be honest and a bit vulnerable.”

Peter Rollins responded:

“maybe it was when you called atheists a bunch of privileged white guys who are detached from the concerns of the world?”

Again, I somewhat sympathize with Jones because I have experienced this same thing. I, like Jones, try to be honest and vulnerable on the internet.

So this is how I approach it: the internet is like a reality TV show that anybody or everybody is watching and I’m one of the actors. If I want to be on the show, I’m exposing myself to the opinions of others. I positively know that I am going to get love and hate directed at me. I am going to be either ignored, praised or ridiculed. When you’re on the show, honesty and vulnerability are not only crucial, but inevitable. And the various responses of the audience are just as crucial and inevitable. This is the nature of reality TV.

We signed up for this.

(*** edited an hour after the original posting for tidiness’ sake)

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