It’s one of the most memorable scenes in Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman Begins (2005)—fiery assistant DA Rachel Dawes slaps college-age Bruce Wayne repeatedly after he admits to conspiring to kill his parents’ murderer. But her actions, to me, are less poignant than the chilling question that led to them: “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?”
It’s a good question, regardless if it’s directed at a fictional billionaire playboy or you as you stare your screen reading this post. If the good people do nothing, what chance does anyone have?
Blog posts, book reviews, and social media comment threads have become the tool of choice for bullies. Spend any amount of time online and you’ll be flabbergasted at what one person will say to someone they don’t even know. There’s no accountability with online commenting. In many instances, people can remain anonymous, so they feel like they can say whatever they want, whether it’s relevant or not, whether it’s even true or not. It seems that the concept of kindness has very little place on the Internet.
I recently experienced this troubling phenomenon with a blog post I wrote about having a Christ-like response to my state’s governor. I’ve operated AlwaysPeachy.com for about four years, and I’ve never had more than 1,200 views on a single post in a day. In two days, this one post generated more than 20,000 views from unique IP addresses. And if the hit count stunned me, the comments left me speechless.
I didn’t know these people, and they didn’t know me. But somehow because they read (or skimmed) my blog post, that gave them the right to comment on my spiritual worth or my intelligence level.
But here’s my question: If one blog post got 20,000 hits in two days, why are there fewer than 100 comments? Sure a few of them are kind. A few more are actually even relevant to the blog post itself. But where are the Christ-followers who actually read the post and had something useful to say? Did everyone just want to stir up trouble and hurt feelings, or was there somebody who actually wanted to have a conversation?
Where are the good people who read the post and agreed with it? In 20,000 people, there had to be someone. Were they silent because they didn’t want to rock the boat? Were they keeping their mouths shut because they didn’t want to draw the wrath of the others?
I don’t want a defender. That blog is me sharing what God’s teaching me on a daily basis. But I would appreciate someone reading what I’ve written and posting something that demonstrates they thought about what’s there, whether they agree with me or not.
You know what I’m talking about if you’re published. People read your book (or you assume they read your book), and that means they’re an expert on you. So they post horrible, vicious things—untrue things—designed to hurt and tear you down because they disagree. And I don’t care how much you say other people’s opinions don’t matter, it’s discouraging if all you see are mean reviews and comments.
So where are the readers who are willing to read and comment with kindness? Where are the good people?
Just because you didn’t like a book doesn’t mean you can attack an author’s motivation or intelligence level. Just because you would have written it differently doesn’t give you the right to tear someone else down. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean there has to be conflict. We are free to disagree with each other, but God will never condone hurting someone else, especially if you’re only doing it to make yourself feel better.
I’ve learned the hard way that debate and harsh discussions never convince someone to change his or her mind. You can’t make someone see your point of view by being cruel or forceful. A change of heart and mind is something only God can do.
So keep that in mind the next time you comment on a blog or post a book review. Be honest, yes, but don’t just lash out. There’s a real person on the other side of your screen, and, if you’re a Christ-follower, your job is never to tear other people down. Your job is to speak truth in love.
Maybe the truth is hard, but you don’t have to be.
Was there a time when you received a cruel book review or blog comment? How did you respond?
A.C. Williams, a founder of Crosshair Press, started writing at age 11 and has completed around 40 novels. When she isn’t writing, she hangs out at her family’s 100-year-old farm on the Kansas prairie. She loves sharing what Jesus is doing in her life and believes there’s a Doctor Who quote for every life situation. Her debut novel, Nameless, hit the shelves December 2014, and her second novel, the romantic comedy Finding Fireflies, followed in February 2015. You can connect with her on her website, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.