Unstoppable Force vs Immoveable Object

 

I love a good argument.tweet

Mind you, I would run away from a fight as fast as I could in real life. But, while I flee in haste when any type of confrontation arises, it’s a different story on Twitter.

This hit me when I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day. I had chosen to argue with a well-known controversial Australian political figure. He sided with Aussie Rugby start Israel Folau and argued that we must have legal protection so people like Izzy could safely tell every LGBT person that they’ll burn in hell forever without threat of reprisal (in his case his multi-million dollar contract being torn up).

I asked him if he would afford the same freedom of speech to a Muslim person who advocated jihad against Australian ‘infidels.’

His response to me: ‘You’re an idiot.’

I looked at his feed and saw that several hundred tweets had protested his false logic and I was so tempted to strike back with some smart, well-thought-out response.

But it was then that I realised that here was an immoveable object and our collective tweet-attack was like an unstoppable force.

He wouldn’t budge an inch.

We wouldn’t let up.

Stalemate.

So what good is Twitter anyway?

I concluded that Twitter is great to let off steam and offers a chance to find like-minded haters in the fight for right. But, as far as actual change goes, it is a rather ineffective and useless tool.

*  *  *  *  *

Contrast that with the work of David Fleischer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center whose work has been to change people’s minds regarding LGBT inclusion. His work method has exploded on to the scene since his appearance on the public radio broadcast This American Life.

He comes from a place of awareness that it is a very rare thing to change someone’s mind simply by a well-crafted argument or by logical thinking.

I recently listened to an interveiw he did with HumanizeMe’s Bart Campolo. Using the Californian Prop 8 referendum as an example, he demonstrated how all manner of logic and emotion was thrown at the people of the state to convince them that marriage equality was a proposition worthy of their ‘Yes’ vote.

The proposition failed.

He and his team went back to the drawing board.

In their work of evaluating what went wrong, they studied on their method of canvssing the general population and revisited electoral districts that had overwhelmingly voted against marriage equality–this time using a different strategy: one of connection. Rather than bombard the resident with facts and appeal to their sense of justice, the canvassers tried a different approach: having a comnversation with the person and drawing out from them their story, building trust, and then sharing their own story in such a way that it relates to that person’s own emotional connections and relationships.

It worked.

Using the new technque, they were actually able to convince far more people that marriage equality was something worth considering based on the new relationship they had formed.

Essentially, Fleischer discovered that prejudice can be overcome with relationship built in a non-threatening way using conversation.

I have read accounts of the same thing working in conversatons between African-American folks and KKK members, between youth and the elderly, between Christians and Muslims, and between Israeli and Palestinian people.

What Israel Folau, Mark Latham, Lyle Shelton, Pauline Hanson and others like them must come to realise is that it’s only in the context of relationship and connection with others that trust can be built in such a way that people begin to understand you and your message. No bashing-over-the-head-with-a-Bible can build consensus in anywhere near the same way as a heartfelt, sincere comnversation that addresses underlying feelings, emotions and experience. Our stories are so different, but in them is a point of intersection where we can agree and connect and understand each other.

I’m all for dialogue. And yet I let my need to be right get in the way too many times. My first thought was to delete my Twitter account and start again. But when I had time to collect my thoughts, I realised that I don’t need to be part of that unstoppable force that expends its energy trying to shift that immovable object. I can back away from the comments section. I can refuse to scroll. I can, instead, ask sinecer questions about folks and their closely-guarded beliefes and, somehow, I may be able to make some small difference. Twitter is full of angry people. Maybe we need to become an unstoppable force of kindness that, as kindness often does, breaks down piece-by-piece seemingly-immovable objects.

Facebook Me and Real Me

facebookThis morning in our Sunday gathering, Mike was taking us through the gospel terminology used in the New Testament book of Galatians. While explaining the term ‘righteousness,’ he made mention of the way we see ourselves against the way we want people to see ourselves, using as an example Facebook.

It is obvious that the stuff we put on Facebook is filtered reality–it’s what we want others to see in us. We try to build an identity so when people look at our page, they see the person who is better, more confident, more positive than we are in real life.

We want to appear more ‘righteous’ than we really are.

I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s exactly what I do. I know how I am and, in the words of someone whose name escapes me at the moment John Powell (see, I don’t have such a perfect memory either!), “I am afraid to tell you who I am because, if I tell you who I really am, you may not like me.”

I’d like to think I’m getting past that (insert ‘You know when you’re getting old’ joke here).

Truth is, I’m not . . . not as much as I would like to. I care about what you think about me. I try to present myself as clever, deep, spiritual (but not with my head in the clouds), active, mostly positive, involved, compassionate, controlled, massively ripped (OK, maybe that’s too obvious an exaggeration) . . . and I am all those things to some degree (except for my abs, alas!).

But I’m also short-sighted, stubborn, proud, intolerant, and sometimes downright unkind.

I am not as ‘balanced’ as I appear on my Facebook page (Those who know me well, say ‘Amen!’ but stay away from the ‘mental’ references, please).

I lean more to the left than I present myself to be. (Onya, Barack!) I’m not ashamed of my progressive (or what some may call ‘liberal’) leanings, but I know some of my friends are not at the same point on their journey. For the sake of those whom I know (hope?) will one day see things differently, I temper my comments, I filter my reactions, I watch which pages I ‘Like’ because I know they can see everything I do on my timeline.

I love my family and I’m really proud of who they are and what they’ve accomplished, but I never post a status of how sometimes they aren’t as awesome as I’d like them to be (or I’m not as awesome to them as I like myself to be–more like it).

I comment when I feel it is safe to do so. I weigh my responses to others’ posts about the hot button issues in the world today.

Is that a lie? After all, I’m not saying that I’m fully on one side or the other . . . the intention of my social media presence is not to be an activist . . . . my family might see it . . . you may misunderstand my intentions . . . I may get cornered after Church by people whom I really care about and love who want to show me how much they love me in return . . . I could get in trouble at work (um, wait! That’s right, they’re Anglican and are used to accepting all sorts of people–balanced and otherwise).

Or should I be more honest and vulnerable and show my true colours, my heart, the way I see the world, people, and God?

St Paul is known to have coined the phrase, “I have become all things to all men . . .” Surely this is what got him in trouble on more than one occasion. Is it worth it?

Well, I guess that you now know who I am, I’d better do the best thing by all of us . . .

. . . I’ll just have to de-friend you.

FOMO

I was listening to Triple J on the drive home last night and Liam Finn (nephew of Neil Finn of Crowded House fame) was a guest on the show. He was introducing his latest album, FOMO, which, he said, was filled with songs written from a perspective of his own life and the pressure he felt when returning to New Zealand from his busy concert and recording period abroad.

He found that, while being away from the high-tech, high-speed life of the big city was good for him in a recharge/refresh sense, he would go to bed and sleep would escape him because he had become so accustomed  to doing things, going places, and seeing people every day. He had become fearful of missing out on life . Hence the title of his album is an acronym for “Fear of Missing Out.”

I wonder if that is the reason why this generation has taken to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr.  Afraid we might miss out on something, we have tied ourselves to checking our mobile phones or computer screens all too frequently to see what our friends (or twiends!) are up to, who they’re with, where they are, and what they’re feeling. Then we must update our status to let them know the same about us. When we’re not “connected” we feel like we’re missing out in some way on what’s happening in our world.

Many people do this in other ways: being engrossed in hearing or reading the latest news from CNN, NineMSN or NewsRadio. Some feel compelled to keep track of sport or weather. Media outlets dedicated to keeping the public informed  rely on this for their livelihood every day. Maybe a story will break and I won’t know because I didn’t subscribe to the right RSS feed, turned off the TV or radio, or check in on the website that has all the latest details and video footage. . . .

How much does FOMO keep you and I from enjoying—genuinely relishing—the present moment? Does this FOMO make us jealous? Anxious? Envious of someone else’s lot in life at the moment? When we update our status, are we unconsciously attempting to paint our life so our friends will think they’re missing out on something?

Last night I made a decision to take a leave-of-absence from Facebook for a while. Those who know me know that I am a frequent user and, often, it may seem that I’m addicted. So I thought I’d see what happens if I make a break for a time. Some things may still appear on my Facebook status (like these blog post links and places I visit/like on the web), but I won’t be checking my messages, updating my status, or looking at anyone else’s status or pages for a while. I’m not sure how long this experiment will last—it may well result in my leaving the social media altogether. Regardless, I’m hoping it will bring some much-needed perspective and help me to spend time on areas of my life where right now I can see I’m missing out.

I’m not saying this is something we all should embrace, but for me I need to cast out the demon of FOMO and live in the moment, every moment.

Liam Finn mentioned on his interview that, while he got over this fear of missing out, this episode in his life brought the present into focus in a more real and meaningful way. To some extent, I think that’s something we all need.

Social Media & the Church

This is possibly the best post I’ve read about the influence of social media and the influence of the Church in this tech-energised generation.

Here’s a snippet from The Oblivious Boycott- Ignore The Social:

“The hope, encouragement, training and life transformation we have to offer through the local church is as relevant now as it ever has been. That doesn’t need to change.  We just make it too hard for people to engage in the story. Worse? We’re not even in the environments where conversations are already happening. Last week, someone left this comment on my blog:

“‘Pull the computer out of the wall, and go out into your community. Shake some hands, learn some names, invest actual time in people and earn the right to be heard. That’s how you minister to your community, not by eavesdropping on what they’re saying on Twitter.’

“Maybe you don’t agree with this point of view, but I’ll bet you know someone who does and you don’t know how to convince them otherwise. We all hear the hub-bub about how the internet is making us stupid. Or, how people need to get a life and turn off the computer.

Ignoring the social is a fast pass to unhealthy and completely out of touch.

“These virtual communities and spontaneous new social structures are increasingly becoming some of the most important places to “earn the right to be heard.” When we listen, learn about and acknowledge people in their online spaces, we are developing relational collateral for offline space.

As we begin our voyage into relevance, here are some pointers.

“The internet isn’t any more of a cop-out to real life than a car is to walking. A healthy reality doesn’t embrace all or nothing. I like how Phil Cooke puts it in his book, Branding Faith; “Like most areas of life, the greatest dangers often come out of the strongest positives. And we don’t stop using good accounting principles because of the bookkeeping abuses of Enron.” A change in approach starts with a change in mindset. Our communication efforts will be exponentially more effective if we fine-tune our M.O.—online and off.”

Read more here.

This is part of a web presence called Shrink the Church, a blog well worth reading. Here are a few more interesting tidbits from this site:

5 Ways To Cultivate A Crippling And Irrational Fear Of Muslims (The comments are an interesting conversation in themselves.)

Can you spot Jesus amongst the 2010 FIFA World Cup players?

Spotting Jesus At The World Cup (see picture)

My Church Can Beat Up Your Church

8 Things The Super Mario Brothers Can Teach Us About Our Faith

Everything’s Amazing…You Don’t Want To Miss It! (Hyper-promoting, Yeah!!!)