Of identity and the nature of the internet

There is a quote I’ve read somewhere that says something along the lines that your true character is who you are when you think no one is watching.

To me, this explains a lot of why online things have gotten to the state that they have. People feel like they are anonymous, that no one (who counts anyway) is watching, and they let their true characters shine. They flame each other like nobody else has feelings that matter, they scam each other at every turn, they form little cliques that go to war with each other. They make posts of things they would never in million years say to someone in person.

They feel safe to be the person they know that they should not be, and that they know enough to try to hide, if not remove, from their real lives.

This is an incredibly frightening thought when you take a trip through the net. If humanity is inherently good (as I keep reading people say they believe), they sure don’t like to show it around here.

Another person escaping from my memory once said that the one major accomplishment of the internet is its ability to connect people based solely on interests. I’m going to ignore the “one major accomplishment” part, but it definitely is an interesting effect. All of the sudden people who have spent their entire lives being alone in an interest suddenly find they are far from it.

As with any tool, this has effects both very good and very bad entirely based on how its used. The person struggling against a disability has a source of support with true understanding of what it means to live life with their struggles. Even as right maybe next door, the sexual predator is learning he isn’t the only one who has the same warped desires, and in the companionship opens doors towards further actions he may never have allowed himself in isolation.

However, connection is not always friendly. Big fish in different small ponds may very quickly become competitive, having never felt their position threatened before. And others will discover that they really weren’t so big after all. What does this do to the person who has for so long been the big fish to discover they are a minnow? Most would adapt, and in time figure out that in the bigger fish they have great resources to tap into for their own growth, but I imagine for some the experience of a bursting illusion is one they would have rather not experienced.

To me, this makes the internet a true testing ground.

Who are you, really?

When feel like you can get away with saying whatever you want, what do you make the choice to say? When location and physical limitations are removed, allowing you to associate with whatever sort of people you choose, who do you choose to associate with?

When you have access to all sorts of different ideas, viewpoints, and influences, which ones do you choose to fill your mind with? Do you have the ability to read other views to understand them without feeling a need to defend your own as if you were attacked? Can you explain your views without attacking when the coin is flipped? Are your views held deeply and close enough to your heart to not be swayed or torn by the experience?

Are you able to stand as your own person independent of all else? When stripped of all of your past, all of your real life, and left with just who you are, what is your response? Do you run back to your titles and authority to pull them along with you for support? Do you disconnect from the real world entirely to project someone who only lives in your imagination?

It’s customary when starting a new blog to write a post about who you are, typically filled with chosen details of real life. A/S/L, pets, occupation, and relationships mostly.

I choose not to be usual.

You will find out about me along the way, much more than the trivial details would have ever given you, and the few of those details that really mattered will make their way into things naturally on their own. The ones that don’t apparently weren’t that important to knowing me anyway.

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Cars (knowledge, faith)(relocated)

I have no idea how my car runs. But I know that it does. I don’t really need to know much about it though. I can focus my interests in learning how to work it better, and how to use it. I can even teach others to use it without knowing much about it, and they can then discover more on their own.

But there will be problems. However, I know those who have discovered more about the car than I have who can help me to get it running, and I can talk to the manufacturer about what is wrong. Those who can fix it easier are not better qualified to drive the car than I am, they just have followed their interests to understand it better, and are willing to help others.

This is how I see faith. I have more interest in actual operation and making it better than I do in understanding it, and I don’t need to understand much of it to be able to show others the basics of it so that they can learn on their own. There are resources such as pastors I can turn to for help who usually will know more than I will, and I always have the 24 hour, toll free connection to the manufacturer of my life, even if I can’t always hear or understand him, or even always believe that he exists and cares.

Pets (evil, free will, heaven and hell)(relocated)

Remember teddy ruxpin? It was a stuffed bear that was big when I was a kid. It played a tape and its mouth moved. It was pretty cool, but got kinda boring and predictable.

Furbys are much cooler. They have some spontaneity, and when ya reset them can even change personalities. But still kinda annoying, mainly cuz they always say sweet stuff like “me want kiss”… Never any chance for anything surprising.

But pets are so much cooler. Almost all kids want a dog or a cat at some point. I think that the reason why they are cooler is that they aren’t very predictable. The cute little puppy could be your best friend, or could be the demon that ruins everything you own and bites and snarls at anything that gets near it, or anywhere in between, or at times both! But if ya knew it was always going to be sweet, it would be furby type boring… And if ya always knew it would obey it would be like the taped teddy bear. Neither is one I would want for very long.

By letting us be bad if we so choose, he lets us choose to be nice instead of only putting nice stuff into our vocabulary like a robot. But it also means some of us wont. Maybe tolerating the mean dogs will help us become stronger from the fighting. Maybe with our scars we will become more timid. But eventually, when it gets to the point to where for the welfare of the good dogs the unmanageable dogs must go. This is why some will go to hell. Because if all stayed, it would be just like it is now.

But a lot does depend on how you manage the dogs. A very strict owner with a lot of rules may have the dogs that obey being more in control, but he is gonna lose a lot to meanness. Even the obedient ones will be less friendly.

God tried this. The story is called the old testament. It didn’t work well… We dogs didn’t go by the rules, and were constantly needing yelled at, and even the good ones weren’t good at following directions. He was losing a lot.

So he tried approach two. You cuddle, and love, and spoil the puppy. The dogs will come and try to learn to obey you cuz they like you, not because you are holding a whip. Some still will not come to you… Even if you call and try to chase after them. And so it is with a lot of people. And he’d rather keep them… But it will only hurt the rest to do so.

My kitty (God’s comfort)(relocated)

My kitty resembles God a lot. (ducking tomatoes thrown at the heretic, especially by dog lovers). She isn’t God, but a lot of stuff is similar. Hear me out!

My cat is unable to be ignored. You can try, but good luck to ya! She will protest at the top of her lungs, then get physical. If I am studying I end up reading the book through a large cat on top of it. God is like that too. He wants my attention, and no matter how much I run from it, he is going keep showing himself to me until I either accept it, or postpone the inevitable. Every knee shall bow.

My cat is always waiting for me. She sits on the landing when she knows I am supposed to be home. When my work schedule changed, she went off at the time I was supposed to be home. When I went to third shift over the summer, she adapted and was soon on the same schedule. When I went off to college, for the first month she sat on the end table at the bottom of the stairs that lead to my room, and every morning around 5 am (the time I headed to bed) she went around the entire house searching. God is like that too. He wants me to spend time with him, but if I am busy and skip or delay my set times, he doesn’t run off to bed. He waits. And sometimes with me when I get off the ball that can be a long wait.

My cat hate water. It is the one thing on the planet she hates the most. But sometimes, when I just get out of the shower on one of the occasions when she comes into the bathroom with me, she will want to be petted enough that it doesn’t matter. She can look past the wetness. I could dry my hand off, but no matter how much I tried it would still be damp. But in this instance, she doesn’t care, and after giving in and petting her for a few minutes, my hand is dry, not just from time but from her fur absorbing it. God is like that too. He hate water….. Er, uh, I mean sin. But if I am covered in it, which is almost always to some extent, nothing that I do can rid me of it. But even though he hates it so much, he accepts me with it, and if I stick to it and keep my focus there, the problem will eventually fade away. He wants my attention that much that he ignores it and forgives it.

My kitty can tell when I’m sick, or even hurt emotionally. My cat has gotten the nickname of “nurse kitty” from the episodes of bronchitis turning to pneumonia I have gotten for the past few years every winter because she does not leave my bed the entire time except real short food/bathroom breaks the entire length of time that I am sick. Almost not a time has gone by that I have been curled up in a ball crying without her right there rubbing on me. God is like that too. When I’m hurting, that’s the time when he is nearest. That’s when I can feel his presence the most, and his unconditional love. And he will be there with me as long as it lasts.

My kitty gets mad at me sometimes, but after a short time she will go quickly from mad to rubbing on me again. God is like that too. I hurt him, I get him mad at me like even his chosen people did quite a bit, but he is quick to forgive when I repent.

So my kitty is a lot like god in some ways. Not so much in others. I wonder if my cat can part the water in the river…

Child’s crayons (God and love)(relocated)

Take a random three year old, give them paper and crayons, and ask them to draw their house. You will probably get a big red scribble in the middle of the page that isn’t even in the shape of a house, and maybe their house is actually green. If the child is more creative, maybe you’ll get a big spiky purple blob off the left that is the sun (you discover after asking the child). The child would know its house from a red house if you showed it pictures of two houses, and probably would even know its house from a very similar house in person.

Shown a picture of a purple sun, the child would also realize that it is not normal.

Using the statement that “God is Love,” as a fact, the two will be used interchangeably in the explanation of this analogy because it applies to both.

Each of us has our own drawing in our heart of what love is. We have a more difficult time than the child however, because while the child has repeatedly been to it’s house, we have never actually known love. None of us.

We have an accurate picture of love in the Bible and from what God has shown to each of us individually, however this picture shows only a very tiny portion, and is not very clear to us at all, and it can’t and won’t be in this world. At times it may be a bit more in focus, but even then it is still so far from clear that if we were to see it in perfect focus we would maybe not even recognize it. In our house drawings, we must work from the small picture of one brick, and fill in the rest from our own minds. The whole thing of the actual picture is much, much to big to ever be understood or even glanced over within the current life. We have to work with what we are able to handle.

We still have the crayons in our hands. As we learn and grow, we may decided to add pink grass to cover the entire picture including the sun, or may decide that it is wrong and scribble over our entire work with a black crayon and deny it exists. Sometimes one of the wisest things to do is to look over it and question it. In doing so we may choose to rebuild ourselves onto another piece of paper and either keep certain things from our original drawing or start over with the risk of drawing the exact same thing again but in a different order.

This may make our mind drawing a little better, but in reality, it still is going to look absolutely nothing like the original. Even the very best of every picture of God and love that anyone in the world has ever come up with still is so primitive and distorted that by looking only at the picture one would never manage to see any significant resemblance of the actual.

When we then follow the analogy out of our minds and to society, we are essentially showing our mind pictures to others as we live out our lives based on them. Those people are also in the process of making and fixing their drawings, and may decided to mimic those of others, and in the case of Christians to merge these with the blurry photo they have seen. Our views of love, and even of God, are always being shaped and changed by our experiences with other humans, especially those closest to us. However, if we are to ignore the photo and base our “art” only of the messed up perceptions shown to us by others, ours will always be less accurate. Just as the distortion exists between the actual and the photo, and the photo and the drawing, there will be another large amount added from one drawing to another.

To return to the original question, love does exist. The form of it within this world however has very, very little resemblance to what love really is. The only way we can see true love is from God, and we can’t comprehend what we are given from Him most of the time.

What is love? In Webster’s drawing love is “strong affection or liking for someone or something.” In my personal drawing, love is something that goes beyond that emotional liking to something more committed and less changing, and is a no longer controllable pull to protect, look out for, and try to take care of another in all ways that comes to the point of overpowering those same instincts when they are towards ourselves.

Going to the picture, through the blur we can clearly see patience and kindness. I don’t see pride or anger, selfishness or injustice, though I notice those a lot in the drawings I’ve seen from others. Looking deep into the picture of love, only one word can describe what it is. God.

Glitter (God’s favor)(relocated)

my ceiling has glitter and texture all over it.

in an area that is an inch square, there are probably
20 pieces of sliver glitter.

but as i stare at the ceiling, to count 20 pieces of
shiny glitter, it takes an area about 5 foot by 5
foot. and in that are, only about 5 stand out as
shining brightly.

all of the glitter is set up to shine, and all is
capable.

but only some of them are in the right position to
reflect the light at the specific time. no matter how close they are situated, only the ones pointed just right towards the light shine.

this reminds me of god’s choice in selection of us. no favor towards those pushed closer by their parents etc. no apparent pattern. its all in where we face.

Bricks (the church)(relocated)

A wall can survive even when it is missing a few
bricks.

sometimes the bricks are even intentionally excluded
in the name of functionality… forming doors and
windows.

only a few bricks are critical… you can have a few
pillars of key bricks formed into pillars and still
have a standing building.

but while it effectively supports the load expected of
the entire wall, it can hardly be called a functional
wall.

it may have survival, and it may even still be a part
of a stable structure. but it has lost the ability to
do what it was designed to accomplish.

within the church, we are vital. we may not be the critical brick. we may feel like we are just a number. but we are a critical as a part of the whole.