Ah, Veggie Tales, such good times. Their take on the Good Samaritan had two epic stories, one a la Star Trek, and the other about people who wore shoes and pots on their head. Five-year-old me was all about it and learned that even if people were a little weird to me, they are still my neighbors– people that I need to love and share the Gospel with.
Some twenty years later, the same question remains that five-year-old me, and the lawyer in Luke 10, had. Who is my neighbor? The same answer remains, everyone! We are called to show mercy to, and share love with everyone. From its very beginnings, the Church has taken this very seriously, bringing the Gospel to every place that people are.
Now I realize I’m a little late to the game on this, but I was asked to write a post about why I bother blogging, and this is what came to mind. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI released a message for the 45th World Communications day where he called for authentic Witnesses in the digital age. A lot of people have done this in the spirit of the New Evangelization. I can name a dozen websites and blogs just off the top of my head where I can go at any given time and learn more about my Faith and direct others for clarifications.
The internet isn’t just one big encyclopedia anymore though. Especially as a young mom who is the only adult in the house a majority of the time, a huge part of my internet use is social networking. Yeah, it’s easy to fall down that rabbit hole and spend way too much time online. But used prudently, it is an amazing gift! The internet has gone from a place where I go to look up trivia (or scholarly sources for research papers) to a place where I turn for community.
It’s no substitute for face to face interaction, of course. Any comment section over 100 posts will show you that A LOT gets lost in translation. You want to see the worst of humanity? Google “vaccine”, click see comments, and just weep. Frankly, I’m a little scared of even having typed out that word, lest I begin the perennial debate that has never ended well.
Its extremely common that as soon as there is a screen separating people, morality goes out the window. Name calling, bullying, obscenity… even good Christians seem to think that since it’s online, it’s somehow less real (I think the pornography epidemic is ample proof of that. Much more on that soon.). It’s just the internet. It’s not like its real life.
Oh, but it is. There’s a bizarre phenomenon of bots creating content, but by and large, the internet is real people talking to real people. Real people reading things real people wrote. Real people watching real people. Real people making real decisions.
Now that I keep thinking about it, how often have I skipped right past a post of a friend asking for help? How often have I responded with dismissiveness, with anger, or with judgment to an honest inquiry or innocent misunderstanding? It’s not okay just because it’s online. We still have to be the Good Samaritan even here.
Again, this is no substitute for face to face interaction. It’s far too easy to be selective and deceptive online. I could be a 76-year-old rodeo clown who hasn’t gone to church since Christmas of ’82 for all you people know (I’m not). Just as an example, I’ve been contacted by no less than four FAKE Bishop Barron accounts in the last two months. Why they pick him to imitate, I’ll never understand. The internet calls for a large dose of discernment and prudence, for sure!
But that’s why I’m blogging, to provide an authentic witness in contrast to the bots and the identity thieves. Real people are online, so the Gospel message has to be online. I really do pray that I’m sharing the Gospel with you, my neighbors, to the best of my ability.