I recently bumped into someone whom I encounter more often online than in person.
On social media platforms like Facebook, this person tends toward outrage. Whatever the political controversy of the day is, you can be sure this person is commenting or stirring the pot.
In person, though, he is kind and gentle. In fact, if I knew nothing of his online personality, I would consider him one of the nicest guys I know.
Sometimes, each of us can fall into this pattern of behavior. Why? Part of the reason is it’s easy to be bold, audacious and obnoxious behind a keyboard. When you tee off on a person, place or thing online, you don’t have to see the look in their eye. You don’t have to look them in the eye and experience their real reaction.
This reminds me of a popular story from America’s War of Independence. According to sources, during the key Battle of Bunker Hill, American officer William Prescott said, “Don’t fire on the enemy until you see the whites of their eyes.” Prescott’s point was that firing upon the enemy in close range would be much more effective, and he was right.
I have tried in my own life to develop a rule. I won’t comment or say something to a person online that I would not say in person, that I would not say if I could see the whites of their eyes.
This commitment came forth after multiple failings of mine. Times I had too much brashness and bravado over the Internet, and too little courage in person.
Christian brother and sister, as Independence Day draws near, I would encourage you to declare your independence from unnecessary and harsh comments and attitudes online. Or as the Bible puts it, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to becomeangry” (James 1:19).
This one simple change might transform your own life and others. In fact, if more of us living in America would change in this way, we could continue to be the home of the brave, not the bravado.