"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Power of the Virtual Word

We live in such an interesting technological age. With the advance of computers has come a wide variety of ways for us to communicate: blogs, social networking (ie: FBing, twitter etc.), forums, web sites, texting - just to name a few. I have been anywhere from fascinated to disturbed by these modes of communication. Certainly, they are tools that can be used for good or bad. They can be fantastic ways to connect. I am truly amazed how I can connect with family members across continents and countries. Family, that I would otherwise, not have the time to keep up with. I love that I can take a couple of minutes to read a status and see some pictures, or take a couple of minutes to read through an encouraging blog post. All - good stuff. :)

Alternatively though, I have been disturbed by behaviour that seems to lose a much needed filter when it hits the keyboard and then the screen. It's easy to hide behind a computer screen; if you give yourself permission to let go of the power of words. I began to really ponder this phenomenon I was watching. Words are powerful, written or spoken. The written word is 'out there' for all to read, thus the the reason the phrase was coined: "The pen is mightier then the sword." What we write has power just as much as what we say. It can encourage and lift up or it can be destructive and fruitless. I once had a friend say to me about FB: "I guarantee that people would not say more than half of what they say on FB if they were sitting in that person's living room." There is a lot of truth in that statement. With the advance of all these written modes of communication comes great responsibility. I determined then to put strong limits on my own posting. For instance, I ask my myself when writing a status update: 'What is the motivation for this status update?"; or when I comment on someone's wall: "Will this comment breath life or death?, "Will my witness or testimony be furthered with this or destroyed?". And for me the big one: "Does this reflect my faith in Christ?".

Having said all this; as you can see, I do have a blog and I also have a FB account percisely because I do believe that words can bring life and encouragement. I think these modes of communication are wonderful tools. Along the way though, I have had to redefine how I use them to reflect how strongly I feel about the power of the virtual word. I think it's important to be a real and honest person both on and off line. There have been times when I have also failed miserably, both in the arena of virtual words and spoken words. I am reminded then how vital that words both written and spoken be as Proverbs 25:11 says "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 18:21 also says: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." Achieving the balance of truth and grace is not easy both on line and off. The tongue is not easily controlled, which is why there is so much scripture in regards to it. But when it is controlled, tempered with mercy, honesty, truth, and respect it is like apples of gold in settings of silver. A friend of mine wrote something on a status the other day that I will quote in part: "Never underestimate the power of that email you sent someone today..................those notes you left to encourage a friend because you don't always know or fully understand where that may be meeting them at that particular time." We can never underestimate the effect our words have on those around us, both for the good and bad; in and off line.

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