The Internet: chat rooms, forums, and discussion lists
This page is present just as an “Alert” to the dangers of indiscriminate internet use. The seductive and “fun” nature of going places where no one (supposedly) can know you have gone is a vicious allurement of a very real Devil. The potential for great harm, and ubiquitous abuse and sin on the Internet is as worth considering as would be proximity to a crack house or red light district.
NBC Dateline, January 10, 2010 described the dynamic of religious hate-mongers well, saying they are often leading “a double-life” from their seeming good citizenship in their jobs, while they have “a second home on the Internet and its fire-breathing chatrooms—another hallmark of the modern extremists.”
PrimeTime with Diane Sawyer, on ABC 9/14/06, did a special on the “dynamic” of internet secrecy in blogging and forums. The special was called “Cruel Intentions.” They did a “role-play” for three days—a total experiment amongst knowing participants. It was filmed, just to see how people would respond, given the “cloak of darkness” on the internet. The level of hostility and insult, the lying and hatred and name calling that are bred in the culture of “online,” was shocking to the interviewers on the network, and even to the participants themselves, when later interviewed.
The “group-think” cultivated in such petrie dishes of inner-sicknesses and the “animal instincts” and “feeding frenzy” of many “on-line” users (blinded by their own egos and prejudices and shielded by the “bag over the head” of distance) is documented by even the pagans. Everything from prejudice to even suicide, and broken relationships on every level in between, has been linked to playing on the internet. They have concluded that engaging with or watching unaccountable strangers—those with hidden motives and identities and histories—is addictive and seductive. Even the pagans now have acknowledged how dangerous these “red-light district” and “crack houses” of the internet can be. “Cyber-bullies” (as the newscasters and researchers on the topic refer to them as) are responsible for numerous tragedies, using various clever strategies to defame and harm others. Even amongst the unBelievers, many are now pressing hard for laws against these “cyber-bullies” and predators. Of course, they are ALREADY breaking federal and constitutional laws with libel, slander, defamation of character, prejudice, and hate crimes. Now, in ADDITION to the current laws, many are pressing for additional laws relating even more specifically to the internet slander and vicious attacks that are so prevalent with the “Cruel Intentions” of those with a bag over their head on the internet. Watch the documentary if you doubt the evil “power” of blogs and forums and chat rooms for “mind-dirtying” and life-destroying on the internet. Those willing to allow curiosity or appetites of various kinds to draw them in are inviting deep trouble into their very homes. As in overcoming any fleshly instinct, self-control, a “fruit of the Spirit,” is your best protection.
There exists in our "modern" age a dangerous "illusion" that one can have legitimate "spiritual" relationships in chat rooms, forums, blogs, discussion groups, so-called networking, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and the like. Is that really true? Is it really possible? How many children will have to be reported in the news to have been abducted—deeply scarred for life, or murdered—by those purporting "convincingly" to be someone they are not, before the adults "get it" regarding the deception, misrepresentation, lies, and hidden identities on the "web"?
John Dvorak, a world-renowned pioneer in the world of computers and the internet, recently made this statement regarding "communities" on the internet. "Hooking up is not a community. I'm of the opinion that there is no such thing as a real community online. It's a 'pretend' community that we like to feel we're a part of [stroking egos, inflaming passions, feeding frenzy gossip and opinions, supposedly filling emptiness of life]. These vanity Web sites and serve other noncommunity purposes. But everyone knows that these systems are flaky and their users fickle. So their real value is transitory. With this in mind, how valuable is any of this social networking? I can assure you that fragility [and deceit] is never factored in. And of course this has never been studied, and nobody even wants to talk about it. An online community can indeed 'fun' to belong to —if you have the time or inclination. But please do not take it seriously, and never believe that you're part of a true community. Get out of your house, and you'll find the community out there in the street. That's real."—Dvorak
In 1787 a suitable parallel to the world of "internet communities" in chat rooms and discussion lists occurred in the Crimea region on the Black Sea. The prince of Russia, general Grigory Potemkin in an effort to impress Catherine the Great with his own "love" and greatness, created an elaborate imaginary, substance-less world. These have come to be known as the infamous "Potemkin Village." Queen Catherine was promenaded through the region recently conquered by Potemkin, and shown gloriously impressive towns, docks, and palaces. While impressive from the road, much of the impressive "community"... was fabricated as an false-front make-believe world—made of pasteboard! To fill out the illusion of reality, the same peasants and flocks were brought in front of her again and again, in different areas. From her Royal Carriage, the accomplishments were quite convincing, and elaborately flattering to her.
Make no mistake as you play on the internet, if you are naive enough and bored enough to wander in blogs and chat rooms and phony "expert" discussion lists—these "communities" of "experts" and seemingly "sincere" internet wanderers are, even by the observation of Mr. Dvorak, nothing but a "Potemkin Village." These seductive "communities" of "common mind and heart" are a façade of smoke, mirrors, and often corrupt, lying perverts of truth. As Dovork pointed out in his exposé, if you don't go with the party line, the "members" will turn from flattery to devouring the challenger, with lies and threats, in a heartbeat. Again, how many times must it even make "news" headlines of the deceptions and false identities and vulgar hate crimes that begin with "innocent conversations" under the cloak of anonymity, or misrepresentation of motives or history, before "adults" apply the principle to themselves as well as their children on the internet. There IS no "safety" or "honesty" or "community" or "fellowship" amongst the masses of empty lives who create a "Potemkin Village" in their forums and chat rooms, venting and lying, seducing and violating honest people.
The "business world" is well aware, and now acting legally against the "disgruntled" dismissed ex-employees who lie maliciously on the internet. Of course, fallen human nature being what it is, the "internet attacks" against business, against race and skin color, and against anyone who presents an alternate viewpoint than culture-religion of what Jesus desires, attack for the same reasons: pride, jealousy, and bigotry. The known results of playing like this on the internet are many documentable broken marriages, depression, destroyed teens and empty lives.
All would do well, as Dvorak said, to find Life "on the street"—with real people, face to face!! (Acts 2:42-47, 1Cor.12, Heb.3:12-14) It will require you and me, too, to be honest and vulnerable and sacrificial. We mustn't "hide" under a grocery sack mask on the internet, disguised as "spiritual" with its adrenaline rush of gossip and darkness. Jesus has called us to face to face, side by side, "parakaleo" as the only place you will find Life that is truly Life. The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. The LIFE becomes the light of men. Swallow your fears and try it in the workplace, the neighborhood, and your home and others', evenings, weekends, "daily" as God said. You won't regret it.
So, PLEASE be very careful in all Internet use, never allowing a waste of time, a succumbing to careless curiosity or mindless wandering, or the invasion of gossip or slander or any other such “strange fire” into your eyes or mind. Having allowed any of this, it is very difficult to shake off the effect of the “yeast of the pharisee” whose words are very different than their lives, according to Jesus. And time is far too short to simply play in “cyberspace”—having “fellowship” with things and people whom may not be at all what they seem. As Peter Lord said, as did Jesus in His way: “We become what we eat.” So, all of that to say, PLEASE be wise and careful, and don’t become another one of Barna’s statistical nightmares because of carelessness, or lack of conscience or awareness, or discipline. As Nick Clooney said on Fox News, 9/2/2008, “We are in a very nasty period right now—with no gatekeepers. Nobody seems to care.”
A nationally-known consultant and strategist for the Democratic Party in the United States was recently asked about television, radio, and internet campaign tactics. Specifically, he was asked why they utilize advertisements that assault their political adversaries with innuendo and hateful personal attacks. His answer was brief and insightful about fallen human nature. He said, "We use personal attacks and accusations because they work. While many people say they object to the advertisements, the reality is people secretly love that kind of stuff. They are attracted to it and remember it. You've never noticed how humans are attracted to a fight, or a soap opera, or a fire, or a car crash? It is [fallen] human nature to be attracted to rumor and innuendo, suspicion and lurid stories. We do it—because it works."
There it is again. Flesh and naiveté will always crave "secrets" and "innuendo" and bag-over-the-head lies. A juicy headline, a doctored photo, a twisted quotation, a malicious lie from those with an agenda—it's all part of the "national enquirer" fallen flesh and spirit of this perverted age—that keep busy the deceiving paparazzi, and the religious chrIslamic terrorists—the stalkers of any who love and desire to obey God rather than applaud Laodicea.
The denominations’ own polls indicate that “nearly three out of four” of their males have “a problem with pornography” and as many as “20% of their ‘pastors’ are addicted to pornography.” Another poll amongst leadership in christendom revealed that “50% of those in attendance had been involved in internet pornography within the last 14 days.” “Pastor M___,” of an East Coast congregation, a counselor at a Promise Keepers Convention this past summer in Baltimore, reports this shocking statistic of the dangers of the internet “web”—80% (EIGHTY PERCENT) of the men he interviewed at their conference (virtually all professed christians) reported involvement with pornography. This doesn’t even include the verbal “spiritual” pornography of chat rooms and forums such as factnyet, and “discussion lists” or the percentage would be even higher than the frightening level of 80% amidst the cultural attendance-based religions of our day, no doubt. (There ARE answers, dear Family, to the ravages of broken lives, clearly unchecked and unhelped by modern clergy/laity, by-appointment, convenience religion!) Now, add to these terrible statistics the 55% divorce rate in attendance-based, clergy/laity religion (non-1Cor.12, non—Heb.3:12-14 forms of “church”), and 75% of teens who fall away in those groups, and it’s easy to see that there are many death-traps surrounding men and women, boys and girls in this “wicked generation.” (Surveys referred to are by David Wilkerson, Promise Keepers, a mainline denomination, Gallop, and George Barna.) One of the most common areas of spiritual devastation in our generation is careless internet use—and lack of watchfulness regarding evil websites, and the raging destruction brought about in chatrooms, blogs, and discussion lists, religious and otherwise. These are a huge open door to satan into many lives, whether by pictorial pornography, solicitation, or other seductive forms of “spiritual pornography”—gossip, slander, and deceit.
This graphic below of the "chat room champion" is just one form of blinding evil on the internet, in a form that even appears attractive at first glance. Most other forms of internet evil are more obvious than gossip or slander, but this is no less dangerous to your soul, and no less disobedient to our Lord to allow into our hearts, or to participate in—if Jesus and the Scriptures are truly our Guide, rather than simply a hobby. In short, watch out for this sort of person below, male or female, in addition to curbing time and appetite and curiosity for the “convenience” of the “web.” Thanks.
For your protection in heart, mind, soul and strength—you should see smooth talkers, liars, and slanderers as they really are without the thin veil they would hide behind to seduce and harm you: