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Thou Shalt Not Commit Blog Fraud

In this so-called “post-modern” world one of the big buzz words repeated again and again is authenticity. 

 

Post-moderns want to be authentic and call for those around them to be authentic as well.

 

If you are foggy about the exact definitions of these terms, let me refresh your memory.

 

authentic: adjective — not false or copied; genuine; real.

authenticity: noun — the quality of being authentic; to have totally undisputed credibility. 

 

The problem that I see with the overuse of these buzz words is a blatant temptation to be hypocritical.  We have a generation that is calling for authenticity in a world that is beset with opportunity for all-out fakery.  

 

In this 21st century social milieu—in a world increasingly defined by the internet and the possibility of faceless, voiceless communication; authenticity is vanishing.  Social networking sites such as: Facebook, My Space and Twitter and information brokering systems like blogs deliver the temptation to be anything but authentic. Occasions to be fake, fraudulent and a counterfeit are offered in a plethora of ways everywhere online.

 

The young country music artist Brad Paisley expertly summed up the reality of blog deception in a song he entitled “Online”.  In the tune he tells the story of a “mama’s boy” turned “poser” online. 

 

I work down at the Pizza Pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I’m 5 foot 3 and overweight
I’m a scifi fanatic
A mild asthmatic
And I’ve never been to second base
But there’s whole ‘nother me
That you need to see
Go checkout MySpace

 

‘Cause online I’m out in Hollywood
I’m 6 foot 5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I’m a black-belt in karate
And I love a good glass of wine
It turns girls on that I’m mysterious
I tell them I don’t want nothing serious
‘Cause even on a slow day
I could have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I’m so much cooler online
So much cooler online

 

We may think such unashamed hypocrisy is rare but the news in the blog world reveals the opposite– in actuality–blog fraud is rampant.  Online “posing” is on the rise and it is not always as harmless as it seems. Recently, the U.S. chapter of the IT Service Management Forum filed a defamation lawsuit against its former executive director, alleging that he tried to discredit the group via blog comments posted under a fictitious female name.  It is the first such case to get to court but if the man accused loses he will pay “big” money in damages.

 

In another example of blog fraud, the online community had been wondering for a long time about the “real” identity of the anonymous blog author of “OffAgain-OnAgain Boy”.  The web-log which featured a graphic exposé of the life of an IT support manager was attracting a hefty readership and many questions.  As a result a newspaper investigation was launched to solve the mystery surrounding the anonymous blogger’s identity and they hit pay dirt.  The paper soon revealed that that the writer did not actually work in the IT industry at all but was in fact a £3,000 per night prostitute.  Online reports revealed that “the stories of late night sessions spent identifying the cause of widespread spreadsheet corruption, and the details of three hour meetings debating the merits of Windows upgrades were pure fantasy.

 

Recently in an example closer to home, on a blog authored by a Christian skeptic named Daniel Florien another case of blog fraud was exposed.  Florien revealed in a post called “Pastor caught lying for Jesus” that a Christian minister was in fact on his blog fraudulently posing as an atheist.  The lying pastor falsified comments in which he attempted to make a supposed atheist contributor look like a total immoral idiot. 

 

He wrote, “What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal?”

 

At first Florien reported that he was shocked that anyone could say things like that and then he realized that he was dealing with a “fundie” in disguise, a sheep in wolves clothing. He had done some digging and realized that the deceiver was using a variety of names on his blog. 

 

Florien states, “In a few hours, he (the poser) went from apologizing for our past dealings with slimy lying Christians, to suggesting it’s okay to abuse women, kill neighbors, and slaughter children under the guise of atheism. So I banned him. I found what he did to be disgusting. It would be like me pretending to me multiple Christians on a Christian blog, asserting there’s nothing wrong with raping women and killing children because God commands it in the Bible.”

 

I probably would not agree with Florien on many subjects but on this one we are in accord—I cannot tolerate liars.  It is disgusting when people practice this kind of lack of character and authenticity.  Such posers are guilty of fraud and it is particularly repulsive when this kind of activity comes from a Christian minister.

 

In my opinion it is one thing to use a moniker or hide behind an avatar but it is another to falsify comments, pose as someone you are not, or dream up blog content. I like blogging and interacting anonymously on line as much as the next person but at times there is obviously a fine line between “blog fun and games” and lying. We must remind ourselves as we are tempted by blog fraud –the ninth commandment still unequivocally states–“thou shalt not lie.” 

 

In conclusion, I believe if we in this post modern world are going to preach about the necessity of being “authentic” we better practice “authenticity.”  And for those of us who are Christians if we are true adherents to our faith we should obviously practice what we preach as well. 

We, who so vehemently stand for advancing the Truth, should (duh) tell the truth. We need to be as aware of lying on line as we would be if we were doing it face to face. As we conduct our online relationships and become citizens of the worldwide internet community let’s strive to raise the moral bar rather than trampling all over it. Let’s hold one another accountable to a standard of truthfulness and spread the word –“thou shalt not commit blog fraud.” 

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Two Reasons Why Blogging is not a Time-waster!

Reason #1 Blogging can be good for you; it is beneficial for people to share the contents of their heart in healthy ways.

Science research says:  Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity, and even speeds healing after surgery.”  (from Scientific American Magazine, May 2008).

The Bible says:  The Bible advocates sharing your true thoughts and feelings with God and with each other.  Jesus told his disciples that he considered them his friends because He felt it a privilege to reveal all the intimate details that He knew about His Father with them.  David held nothing back from God in His communiqués with Him in the psalms and we can expect he was just as candid in his personal relationships.  And Paul’s emotions as well as thought and experiences are written out with expressiveness and clarity in his epistles.  In Scripture we are also commanded to comfort each other with the comfort we have received from God (2 Cor 1:3-4) and to share freely with one another (Heb. 13:16).  Blogging is just another vehicle for “one another” ministry and an online community that shares God’s love through the written word is in my opinion a justified and much needed extension of the Body of Christ.

…but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15 (NKJV)

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.   2 Cor 1:3-4 (NIV)

 

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Heb 13:16 (NKJV)

 

Reason #2 Blogging gets you connected!

Scientific research says:  “Blogging can help you feel less isolated, more connected to a community and more satisfied with your friendships, both online and face-to-face, new Australian research from University of Technology in Melbourne, has found after two months of regular blogging, people felt they had better social support and friendship networks than those who did not blog.” (from ABC Science Online Mar 3, 2008)

The Bible says:  The Bible stresses the need for connectivity in the Body of Christ.  It is important that Christians feel a part of a dynamic community for fellowship and support. Humans were not designed for isolation but for relationship.  We all know that men and women were not meant to live alone (Gen 2:18) and it is not good when human beings find themselves separated from the regular companionship of others.  With this in mind utilizing the internet is a great way for people to reach out and connect.  Blogging is an especially useful vehicle for single individuals who live in solo conditions because it is a way to be in contact with others from the restful recesses of your own home.  If you have not yet tried blogging—try it you’ll like it!  It gives you a chance to know others and be known—and that is always a very great thing.

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.  Romans 15:2 (NLT)

 

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another. Heb 10:25 (NLT)

 

What are the things you find interesting about the phenomenon we call blogging? Feel free to share how interacting with the cyberspace community has changed your life for the good or for the bad.  Also discuss how “blogging” in particular has benefited you. 

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