Author Archives: Matt Dabbs

Social Media as a Spiritual Discipline – Resistance

Spiritual disciplines require training. Training requires resistance. I believe spiritual disciplines take discipline because they don’t come naturally to us. If they did it wouldn’t take discipline to do them. This is why I believe using social media as a Christian can be a spiritual discipline. It comes with natural barriers to productive and effective conversation. The medium itself is built in a way that makes the accurate transfer of interpersonal communication and meaning more challenging than face-to-face interaction. It takes an unnatural effort and approach to make this work.

In Monte Python and the Holy Grail Lancelot encounters the Black Knight. They have a sword fight that results with the Black Knight on the ground with no arms or legs, still begging for a fight. As gruesome as that sounds, social media conversations (or battles) don’t end like that. They start like that. You don’t have everything you need to engage well from the beginning. When you enter into a conversation with only 20% of what you need to have a healthy dialog you are hobbled from the start and the likelihood of a positive outcome is diminished.

What are the missing components needed for healthy dialog and positive outcomes?

Non-verbals: Facial expressions and gesticulations carry meaning. Posture carries meaning. Are you standing up rigid or relaxed sitting back? Are your hands balled up into fists or are they relaxed at your sides? Is your face scrunched up and red with anger or is your face relaxed and at peace? Emojis don’t cut it! There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction and so we have to discipline ourselves to listen and learn a lot harder because we have less to go on.

Tone of voice: Are they yelling or whispering? Laughing or shouting? Hypertext is tone deaf. The closest thing we have is CAPS LOCK and no reasonable person likes that! Text has no tone and so we lose even more definition in trying to communicate (send and receive/understand) meaning in the “conversation.”

Personal relationship: Social media puts us into connection and contact with people we don’t know having conversations on difficult topics with no relational context with the other person. It is easier to give the benefit of the doubt or extend an olive branch to people you know and people you see regularly. It is easier to be harsh with people you assume you will never actually meet.

This leaves us communicating in an environment where people don’t know you, can’t year you or see you and all they get are words devoid of human context to decipher and assign meaning to. No wonder so many of our conversations turn into train wrecks!

But this is not all. There are even more problems that I will discuss in the next post and then a few more posts to talk about what we can do about it to engage in healthier conversations!

Studying 1 Peter 5:1-14 Elders Shepherding the Flock

In the last chapter of First Peter, Peter spends some time writing to the elders in his audience. The first word in the chapter is missed in some translations including the NIV< NRSV and NKJV – “Therefore.” This reminds us that what Peter is about to write is connected with what he was just talkingContinue Reading

Study of 1 Peter 4:12-19

Right before Peter wraps up his letter he spends a little more time talking about what it means to suffer as a Christian. Suffering and hints of suffering are found throughout First Peter. This is one of those instances where he deals with it directly. When you choose to follow Jesus you are choosing aContinue Reading

Studying 1 Peter 4:1-11

Suffering serves a purpose. Peter links suffering for being a Christian with being done with sin (4:1). I don’t think Peter can possibly mean the person who has suffered for Christ will never sin again. I believe he is saying something similar to what we have in Romans 6 that the ideal Christian life isContinue Reading

Studying 1 Peter 3:8-22 – Expect to Suffer

We are so affluent that most of us don’t really expect to suffer much. It is easy to think that suffering comes from poor decision making, especially in the financial realm. But when it comes to being a Christian, suffering comes with the territory. In fact, if you suffer for being a Christian it showsContinue Reading

Jesus & the Paradox of the Narrow Way

The Hebrew way of thinking about life was that life is a walk. This is one of the primary ways the apostle Paul talks about how you live your life – how you walk. We are all on a path to something even if you aren’t trying to be on a path to something. TheContinue Reading

Studying 1 Peter 3:7 – Instructions for Husbands

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” – 1 Peter 3:7 Peter says that the husbands are to “be considerate” of theirContinue Reading

Process Crimes in Theological Conversation

There are few things in the world of politics that interest me but one thing that does are process crimes. Let’s say Senator Smith is being investigated for money laundering and tax evasion. They bring her in, put her under oath and ask her umpteen zillion questions. During the questioning she tells several lies andContinue Reading

Studying 1 Peter 3:1-6 Instructions to Wives

Peter has already started in on a section on how to live as a Christian alien and stranger in the world within the various roles one can occupy. The lens through which these relationships and roles are viewed is the lens of Jesus. He suffered for doing what was right and in doing so wonContinue Reading

A New Year’s Resolution I Promise You Can Keep

Here it is – Fail at something. I don’t mean fail because you didn’t try. That isn’t failing. That is laziness. I mean fail because you tried something daring. Fail because you stepped out beyond your comfort zone. Fail because you stretched to be closer to your capacity. If you don’t fail at anything thisContinue Reading


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