Christians Online Must Remember Who They Represent

Just because I say I’m on a “Brighter Walk” with God does not mean in the slightest that it’s a perfect walk, or that I never get irritated. Sometimes I get my feathers ruffled, but hopefully most of the time it’s for righteous reasons.

Today I have an example for you of an irritation of mine. The reason for this writing is a) to share from my experience for my readers who have online blogs and ministries, and b) to get it off my chest. (Just keeping it real!)

Case in point: I subscribe to Google Alert. Someone advised me to do this once upon a time to be alerted to my name showing up on the…”something-or-other”.  Primarily, my name seems to show up on things related to Twitter. Go figure! But on occasion, I have gotten a thrill learning that one of my columns has been reprinted on some reputable site, such as the one highlighted on ManhattanDeclaration.org. That was a super thrill!

Well, today’s Google Alert showed me that one of my posts had been copied in full from EverydayChristian.com to another location on the web, with no reference back to the original site. This is an online no-no. I’m not sure where to find the “rule”, but it seems to be a basic expectation, or at the very least, good e-etiquette. So here’s where things got sticky.

I spent time searching for an email address to request that my post not be printed in full, but in part with a link back to the original site.  Soon I received a reply. It was a form letter: Thank you for your correspondence…blah blah blah.

However later, I did within this same day receive a personalized reply. I will give credit where credit is due. But the personalized reply simply said: We’re sorry, but some fan of yours submitted the article and did not provide us a link. Thank you for contacting us. It was short, but at least polite; after all, they did represent a Christian news source.

Nevertheless, this required another reply from me, restating my request and providing them with the link to the article that they had re-published, submitted by someone other than the author. I was a little frustrated with their dismissal of my concern, but just chose to handle it quickly and politely with another email and move on.

But then I opened the next email in my inbox. This one was from Google Groups. Ahem. I had been added as a subscriber to all their email correspondence – without my permission.

I have my own subscribers, so I know how these things work. When you add a subscriber, you must assure they have given permission to be added. This is why I always ask my ladies that I teach to record in writing that they would like to be added to my email list. It’s just not right to say I have permission to add them when I don’t. Frankly, it’s called lying, and it’s certainly not Christlike.

Granted, I may have inadvertently clicked something and subscribed myself. This is certainly possible, and I'd love to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I really don't believe it to be the case. I believe I was enrolled on their list in another fashion. This then required more of my time and effort to seek to be removed from their list. And as of this writing, my efforts to “unsubscribe” have all failed. This all may seem fairly harmless, but is it really? Is it right to capture another's work or email address or time without it being offered?

My words today have been written in an effort to bring warning to Christians in online media, including myself. We must do our best to be Christlike in all that we write and do. We either help or hurt His case with our testimonies. Many are seeking truth and examining how we conduct ourselves. Will they see Him in us, or will they just see more of the secular world?

Let us rise to a higher level than the world’s standards in our online activities. Let us strive to communicate in a positive and honest manner, going the extra mile to serve rather than be served. We must always keep in mind that if we are truly followers of Christ, called to spread His message through media, then we are not online for our reputation, but for His.

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