A Christian Internet Ethic (i.e. how to be in the internet), Part 1

I want an internet ethic: how to be in it, what to do in it, when to go.

And I am intentionally speaking about the internet as a place. I think that is the most helpful way to think about it. It is an extension of relationships we could have, if only we moved our bodies to certain places. When I think of the internet as a place, too, a place that I go to for certain periods of time, whether I go to it at a coffeeshop or at home, I am going there to connect with other people. That can be as direct as a facebook conversation or as indirect as an article on wikipedia. But, the internet is one big social sphere: the public square.
I’m sure there are a lot of people that would love me to nuance this definition or maybe tackle the more complicated definitions that a deeper knowledge of what the internet is might allow. But, I don’t have that and I can’t offer it. All I can offer is my experience with the internet, having grown up there, and how I think about approaching it intentionally.
Really, that’s all I want to offer. Do you think about the internet intentionally? You should, dang it.
I come from the internet like I come from the Midwest, from the suburbs, from coffeeshops.  I want to begin the process of knowing how it has shaped me.
What I really want to do is tell you what kind of internet ethic I use for myself. It may or may not fit you and you might even find it strict, or intolerable, or even unnecessary.
The internet is a place I have to go to. The main problem I had to tackle was the instant access to the internet. There is no train ticket to pay for. It’s everywhere. I was probably in it before I knew I was there. And once you are in the internet, it is quite easy to get lost, forget where you’re going, click on a thousand links, go to wikipedia, go back to facebook, get morally indignant about a puppy being run over by a drunk driver, go back to facebook, check your emails, leave them because you don’t want to respond to the long ones (it would take too much time), go back to facebook, wikipedia, the news, outrage, morally indignant, four hours later.
This kind of experience on the internet is pretty common, though, and the rhythms and cadence of your usage are formed by the way the brain works. The brain likes to be gratified and the internet allows instant gratification for whatever we click on, whether that be as benign as checking your facebook wall over-and-over again (is it benign?), or as ancient a sin as indulging lust by watching pornography (the end, not the means).
To be continued…

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