Based on the common P2P as shorthand, I offer up F2F as shorthand for “Face to Face.” This is how we should envision ourselves as we post and particularly comment – be it on this blog or any other.

This was driven home to me, recently, in a quite experiential manner. I had a discussion, in real life, with a person face to face, on a topic… a topic I had also recently engaged in on this site. “Recent” is relative, so there is no point conjecturing to which thread I refer.

What struck me in hindsight was my demeanor when arguing a theological point F2F compared to the same argument on the web. The obvious advantages aside (e.g. – body language, facial expressions, history), our F2F discussion was equally impassioned yet it lacked the common escalation I so often engage in on the web. I am not sure why this is. I suppose it is hard to become frustrated and blunt when sitting across the table from someone. I suppose it is harder to be come angry and escalate the rancor when the person’s response (which include their own anger and hurt) are readily visible. There is still something removed and anonymous when arguments are held on the web – even when they are between people who have a history F2F.

We see this all too often in our favorite ODM sites. I am convinced they label people way too eagerly, of course, but I bet (I certainly hope) that they would not be so quick and eager if they knew the person, if they bothered to conceive their point of view, if they engaged them F2F.

We are guilty of this as well. For all the ways in which we struggle to be different… for all the ways that we actually are different… for all the way I believe our approach is superior and more in the spirit of our Lord… I am guilty of saying things in such a manner as I would never dream of doing to a brother/sister in Christ F2F… We are guilty of saying things in such a manner as I would never dream of doing to a brother/sister in Christ F2F.

Maybe P2P is a good reminder: peer to peer. “Peer” – a person of the same legal status. If I do not know this is even more true of those of us in Christ, I don’t know noth’n,

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2010 at 12:14 pm and is filed under Blogging, In Tone and Character, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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14 Comments(+Add)

1   Jerry
March 4th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Thanks Chris. Your honesty is welcome and your transparency is encouraging. I too have a lot to learn when it comes to interaction with people here or there or wherever.

May the peace of Christ rest here and elsewhere as we encourage, admonish, debate, and more with one another.

2   Christian P
March 4th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Jerry, who are you talking to?

3   Paul C
March 4th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Thanks Neil or Chris (whoever wrote this). Very good.

4   Chris L
March 4th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Neil is the Author…

5   Phil Miller
March 4th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

This post reminds of the N.T. Wright video I posted a few months ago where he talks about blogging fulfilling the “gnostic dream” of interacting with disembodied people.

We probably do tend to act more harshly online than elsewhere. I think one reason is that it’s more of a captive audience. Most of the time, if I ramble on about theology for more than a few minutes in real life, most people simply walk away… :-)

6   Rick Frueh
March 4th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

“We probably do tend to act more harshly online than elsewhere.”

Would that mean we are more fake in person?

7   Neil    
March 4th, 2010 at 6:54 pm


Maybe – but I’d hope not. Being civil and less combative, less blunt, more… well civil F2F is not necessarily fake.

I think it is just easier to become nasty when you are not in the same room.

Although, I must admit, there are some personalities I have interacted with on-line that I probably could not tolerate in person… for very long anyway.

8   Rick Frueh
March 4th, 2010 at 6:55 pm

“for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Sometimes it takes certain circumstances to get down to that “abundance”.

9   Neil    
March 4th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

I suppose that is true, Rick, I just hope I am more real in real life than on-line.

10   Joe
March 4th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

The thing I find interesting about online conversations is the fact that what is read is not always what is written. My wife and I were talking about this today. A friend of hers is going to a counselor I know. My wife and her were facebooking about it. My wife read her friends comments one way and I read them completely differently.
We were both reading inflections into the words, one of us was right and the other was not.
That happens a lot on blogs, I think. Of course the other truth is that people in general just don’t like to be disagreed with. On a blog, there is nothing there non-verbally to soften that blow. That fact, coupled with the fact that problems off the blog can be taken out on a person on the blog (if I’m fighting with my wife, I may take it out on Chris L).

11   Jerry
March 4th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

My bad…I don’t know why I saw Chris at the top but I swear I did. Anyhow, just change everything in comment 1 that says ‘Chris’ to ‘Neil’.

12   Nathanael
March 6th, 2010 at 10:05 am

Rick, you have a valid point…for once. :)
Remember a few years ago when Mel Brooks was drunk and making those racial slurs. Later, when he apologized, he said that it was just the ramblings of a drunk man. But the reality is that the effects of the alcohol most likely removed his social filter. And, in my opinion, what came out of his mouth is what was in his heart.

13   Nathanael
March 6th, 2010 at 10:06 am

Oh, and my smiley after the insult to Rick was my attempt at online body language. Or maybe it was my version of “bless his heart.”


14   Rick Frueh
March 6th, 2010 at 10:23 am

Nathanael – I am sure you meant Mel Gibson?