mgpcpastor's blog

Taming The Tongue In An Age Of Instant Expression

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This week’s article for Mount Gambier’s local paper.

If you mention Sony’s recent decision to stop producing blank tapes for Betamax video recorders to people of a certain age (usually male) you may get a response that includes the aggrieved observation that Beta was the better video recording system than VHS.
You could pity those of us who feel that way. Not only are we still bitter about the outcome of being on the losing side of technology war that was done twenty years ago, but during all the time the two formats were striving for public support we had to endure the frustration of our obviously superior choice of technology being ignored by the majority of the public. These are the trials of being an early technology adopter.
Adding further insult to injury, one online news portal chose to report the situation with the headline ‘Sony is finally killing its ancient Betamax format’. The format was forty years old. ‘Ancient’. Ouch.
I was on the wrong side of a technology war that apparently predates modern history.
Technology is developing at faster and faster rates. Even before the DVDs that replaced videos have been completely usurped by Bluray both are being made obsolete by streaming.
Just as technology is changing at faster and faster rates, society is being changed at a similarly frenetic pace as we keep up with new tech. Ten years ago what is now called social media barely existed. Now, through a growing variety of means we’re in more frequent contact with more people than ever before.
Our engagement with each other has been transformed. Not only are we finding out more information more quickly, but, as the name social media implies, we are expected to respond.
Once when we communicated our thoughts and feelings we’d need to travel, or write, take the time to pick up a phone and dial. Events were a bit more distant, reactions a bit more measured. Not every thought or response was shared with everyone all the time.
One of the proverbs of the Bible states ‘The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.’ Another says ‘When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.’ The immediate nature of social media seems to demand judgment and comment instead of listening and reflection. It seems to thrive on outrage rather than contemplation.
Jesus understood that our words are a window into our soul: ‘the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.’ It’s not so much the external going into us that is the problem, but the way we respond that shows what’s going on inside.
Perhaps you’ve responded to others in a way that has shocked and disappointed you. Maybe you thought you were better than that.
Jesus helps us look within and take responsibility for any darkness we find there. He wants to help us be free from that darkness so we can relate to each other in ways that will build our neighbors up, not judge them or tear them down.

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