Friday, January 6, 2012

Christianetiquette: How a Christian Should Act in an Electronic World


We used to teach our children good etiquette because we wanted them to know how to behave in public. The dictionary defines etiquette this way:

‘The form of conduct or behavior prescribed by custom or authority to be observed in social, official, or professional life.”

For years this was meant to understand that we do not talk with our mouth full, we do not interrupt, we make eye contact, we says “Yes ma’am” instead of “Yeah,” etc. When our children went off to school we expected them to put this etiquette into use. The Golden Rule of etiquette is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But those days are long gone. This is the 21st Century. We are the technological generation. For those reasons a new word has been created: netiquette. This word came about by mixing the words network and etiquette, and it’s definition, according to www.networketiquette.net, is

“the social code of the internet, because the internet is a network and etiquette is a social code.”


Among the rules of netiquette are do not type all in caps because that is considered shouting, spell check and proofread, and don’t send emails late at night because that will call your lifestyle into question. The Golden Rule of netiquette is “do unto others on the internet as you would have them do unto you.”

If someone can create a word by adding on to the word etiquette, then I think I should also be able to create a word by adding on to the created word netiquette.

So I did.

I created the word Christianetiquette, which I define as

“How a Christian should behave in an electronic world.”


There are basic rules of courtesy, like don’t text at the table, don’t interrupt a face-to-face conversation to answer the phone or check a text, and don’t wear earphones when in a social setting.

But there are also rules of morality as well. We all need to remember to respect God, respect others, and respect ourselves.

#1, respect God. Capitalize His name! I can’t stand seeing Facebook statuses that say “9 out of 10 of you don’t love jesus enough to repost this.” I want to comment, “If you love Jesus you would capitalize His name.”

Don’t take His name in vain either. OMG is taking His name in vain. You might justify it by saying that the G stands for Gosh to you, but the person who reads it isn’t thinking Gosh; that is both confusing and disrespectful.

And be consistent. Don’t post Bible verses one day, then brag about watching Family Guy the next day. Don’t “like” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “baseball players have nice butts” at the same time. I have seen both of those, and it confuses me. I can’t imagine what it does to a person who doesn’t know Christ.

#2, respect others. Don’t air your dirty laundry. Comments like “I hate fake people,” “I see who my real friends are,” “I guess some people never change,” or “Not surprised by how she acted” don’t model the love of Christ. They come off as unforgiving, unkind, and unloving, which should not be modeled in a Christian’s life.

#3, respect yourself. Respect yourself enough to not post pictures you will regret, to not “check in” places you shouldn’t be, and to not list favorite things that should not be your favorite things. Remember that as a Christian everything you say and do will either lead people toward Christ or away from Him. When you write things like “effing” in your status you are probably leading people away from Him (Matthew 5:14-16).

Have you taken your problem to God before you aired it out in public? Have you taken your problem to the person one on one before you shared it with all your friends? Consider the biblical model to follow in Matthew 18:15-20, and ask yourself if you are following that.

Do things you do glorify and uplift the name of Christ, or do they confuse people and turn them off to Christ?

Perhaps you need to edit your profile today.

2 comments:

Elaine said...

I've not been on blogger very much lately but these past few days I am really struggling with acting appropriately online. I remembered seeing this in my newsfeed awhile back and came to check it out. I feel like my faith is being attacked on every website I go to. I can't even go on Pinterest without someone posting a pro abortion or anti Jesus pin. The other day a friend on FB put on her status about how she now hates Kirk Cameron because of his stance on homosexuals. I guess she hates me too secretly? I'm trying to spend less time online and more time with the good book but it's difficult when most human interactions happen via text, FB or email. Any recommendations for really good, conservative Christian forums? I have to admit I'm guilty of the OMG thing. Because I say "Oh my goodness" in real life. I never thought about it til now but you're right, people who don't know me well obviously think I'm saying "Oh my God."

Tommy Mann said...

Elaine,

Thanks for your comment, and good to hear from you again. I certainly understand the frustration you are speaking of. As a big Kirk Cameron fan I was sad to see him so harshly attacked by GLAD; they are allowed to say whatever they want, but they do not like people to say something they disagree with, and they attack the person, not the viewpoint.

To answer your question, I would suggest unsubscribing to anyone or anything that causes you to become upset. I would also recommend joining pages that bring encouragement. Pages like “Support Tebow’s Super Bowl Ad” (https://www.facebook.com/TebowSuperBowlAd) will give pro-life updates about positive legislation and, and pages like Randy Alcorn and John MacArthur will post blogs, sermons, Bible verses, and other bits of encouragement. There are also plenty of Bible pages that will post a verse of the day. Customizing your Facebook page to see only encouragement and no discouragement can transform FB from something that makes your stomach hurt into something that makes your spirit rejoice.

I would also recommend using your Facebook to be a source of encouragement to others. Post verses yourself, and link to uplifting blogs or websites. You might get some negative comments, but you will probably be encouraged by all the positive feedback, which helps sometimes when you feel discouraged.