There was a thread earlier in the week from a member asking about a personal situation. They were clearly asking for help in a reasonable way, but as those of us that read and replied each filtered the question and information supplied through our own experiences and interpreted accordingly. As a result, things spiralled in unwanted directions, with the thread, sadly but reasonably, being deleted.

I cast no blame at anyone, but accept some personal responsibility for what happened because I was one of the contributors.

My point in starting this thread is to remind us that we come from a wide variety of backgrounds: different countries, church streams, experiences, theologies etc. Although we are pretty much all Christians in the recognisable sense, because of the diversity we may at times find ourselves with views that are apparently opposed. And some of us may feel very strongly about those views. In addition, this is an open, relatively un-moderated public forum that anyone can read. Anyone.

In addition, what we 'hear' when we see comments left by others may well not be at all what was intended,. And what may seem to be encouraging to the poster can appear quite the opposite to another person reading it through a different set of filters and experience. Smilies can help, but only to a limited degree.

So I'd counsel that we are careful about what we post and careful about how we reply. Many of us are still learning how to communicate effectively on the internet, and it's likely that we'll make mistakes. Lets try to be gracious to each other.

Now, where's my nomex suit? ;-)

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"I'm still slowly learning tact..." Me too! :)

Maybe it is more a question of context. I take part in some Facebook chats in which we are all basically poking fun at each other and everything else, so the urge to be "clever" won't do much damage there. But over here it is a lot more sensitive.

That said, I haven't been here for ages, so I am slowly getting myself back into the swing of things to see what has developed ever since. :)

Hey, good to see your face again!

It has taken me a long time to learn that facebook is not like forums, where there is a sense of community and robust banter may take place.

To a large degree that also applies to WTR, where people are much more sensitive than on a typical forum - in many ways very much like facebook. I was going to say that it was because they were sharing deeper or more sensitive issues, but on reflection I don't think that's true since on some of the music forums people will often share about very deep issues.

Wouldn't worry - it made sense OK.

Shorter responses are probably better; less space to ramble and less time invested if the thread ends up being deleted.

However, I think it is also reasonable to assume that respondents mean well. Unless someone is obviously calling others stupid, I'd rather put a generous interpretation on their words even if they seem to have missed the point.

Here's some lyrics I wrote last year:

Looking for the next great teaching

Looking for a miracle or two

Looking for a life that's worthy

The father says, come simply like a child 

The father says, come simply like a child


I learnt theories to impress

Confused facts with cleverness

Thought wisdom was knowing more than all the rest, all the rest

Maybe wisdom is saying less 

God really told me with my expert complex.  



It makes me think about what people felt when they heard Jesus speak as in 'who is this person to tell me how to live my life'. Based purely on words things will always have the potential to be misunderstood, it is usually a combination of words and actions that lead us towards someone's true meaning. Unfortunately online you can't back up what you are saying with actions as the person you are communicating with is probably the other side of the world. There is definitely something to be said for face to face conversation giving the best results in discussions, you can immediately see whether the other person has grasped what you were trying to say!

Typewritten discussion differs from coffee-shop discussion in that you don't look people in the eyes, and you don't know that much about their background. 

The downside:  it is easy to pontificate on a subject; and since you have a potential audience of thousands, it is relatively easy to offend someone with a careless word (or simply through ignorantly assuming most people agree about something).  Unlike the coffee shop, where you can quickly mollify, backtrack or explain if you sense offense, the post just sits out there, and you don't know the response until you see it hours or days later.

The upside:  Writing gives us the opportunity to edit as our thoughts pour out.  I think it's good to reread our stuff before we push the "Add Reply" button.  It's also good to think about our negative reactions to a post -- "Hm... where is this guy coming from?  Is there more sense to his reply than I think?", and provide a "basically friendly" rejoinder (if we simply agree with each other on anything, a discussion group is only helpful for sharing products and methods -- ideas are another matter).

And I agree with Greg Newhouse -- cleverness, except when we're getting silly on a subject, is rarely productive in a discussion.

well said


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