Conspiracy Theories, Engaging Online, and Wisdom: The Intersection of the Three and How to Respond Biblically
While social media offers amazing opportunities to connect and learn, it seems that every new day brings new stories of awfulness.
One of the things I love about living in a major city like Chicago is that if I miss the train into the city I don’t have to wait long for the next one. Unfortunately, the same is true of examples of bad behavior on social media. While social media offers amazing opportunities to connect and learn, it seems that every new day brings new stories of awfulness. Baptizing the quote often ascribed to Churchill: the greatest argument against humanity’s inherent goodness is five minutes scrolling through the average social media feed.
In recent months this tendency has only increased. Since Ed and I wrote an editorial for the Dallas Morning News on the importance of church leaders’ discipling their people on social media habits, multiple controversies have erupted. Most often these have revolved around conspiracy theories being promoted about the motivations and actions of the protests.
Given the enduring importance of conspiracy theories, I want to circle back to some of the criticism of the DNS article before focusing on few preliminary suggestions on how Christians can begin to think through healthy online habits.
The Problem of the Media
Several responses to my article in the Dallas Morning News pointed out that their suspicion of mainstream media outlets often arises from clear incidents of bias in their reporting. This is fair criticism.
The reality is that the state of reporting on religion—and particularly in reporting on evangelicalism—is quite poor. Major outlets get obvious facts wrong about simple beliefs that betrays both a lack of knowledge about the material they’re reporting on and a laziness to not search out the answer.
Google examples of where outlets have tried to define “Calvinism” …
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