Because life is a series of edits

Fuller Disclosure Equals Fuller Discourse

In Internet on May 8, 2007 at 10:54 am

I have no business writing this post this week (the last of the semester) in light of what’s due the next few days, but recent comments would seem to merit an effort. My thoughts here run along the lines of owning one’s influence, whether in the blogosphere, or just in life in general.

One of my professors is Dr. Michael Williams, a high school drop-out turned Marine turned Harvard Divinity School graduate (it’s a long story). One of the things I most appreciate about Dr. Williams is his emphasis on granting full disclosure in the midst of discourse – verbal or written, theological or personal – so there is no question as to where each party is coming from in the course of a discussion or debate. I couldn’t agree more with this principle.

One application for me personally is that I never fill out an evaluation (whether it be about a hotel, restaurant, or person) without signing my name and providing my contact information for future reference, even if the option for anonymity is given. Even if the feedback is not particularly positive, it’s important that my name is on it as having said so. Why? Because doing otherwise wouldn’t be owning my influence; it would just be target practice.

Whether in real life or (especially) on a blog, mean anonymity is the enemy of meaningful interaction. Why? Because anonymity tends to keep us from owning the influence of what we say to one another, which violates the whole concept of what a blog (or at least this one) is and should be used for. It also usually dulls our senses in recognizing that there is an actual human person behind the screen name trying to take in what we are saying. This isn’t an issue of blogger etiquette; this is an issue of human respect.

Despite the potential for increasing the world’s connectivity/relational quotient, it’s easy to hide behind technology and not take responsibility for who we are and how we relate to others using it. This is why cyber-community will never replace the Church; dealing with people in a Matthew 18 kind of way requires both parties to own their influence and relate personally, not anonymously. It also sets as the goal of conflict resolution real heart-felt reconciliation, not sterile debate for the sake of sterile debate.

Anonymity is only good when giving; it is not helpful when criticizing. Fuller disclosure (say, who we are and what drives our passion for what we’re trying to say) equals fuller discourse for the rest of us who might actually take time to read and contribute to the conversation.

I don’t moderate comments on Second Drafts, but I won’t allow a redundancy of cowardice, either. If anyone has something to say, you’re welcome to say it here, but give us the courtesy of knowing you a bit and where you’re coming from on an issue (or at least offering real answers if/when we have questions), particularly if you’re making statements that are more passionate opinions than documented facts.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

  1. so maybe we should all boycott that seminary tychicus guy, whoever he is!?.

  2. I had a paragraph in here about that, but took it out because I didn’t think it pertained. The gist of the difference is 1) there’s really no malicious content/intent on the Tychicus site aimed at anything or anybody other than himself, and 2) there’s no invitation/opportunity to interact with what he writes, as the comments have been closed from the beginning.

    From what I can tell about that site, it’s mostly just some weird guy keeping an online journal (albeit, strangely in third-person), writing mostly about himself and his own issues. The fact that he hasn’t written anything in over a month speaks to either the lack of influence he thinks he has or a possible resolution of some issues he’s experiencing. Or, perhaps he’s just a slacker. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the last one.

  3. wow, you’re pretty insightful.

  4. Not really. For whatever reason, I just feel like I know the guy.

  5. he is probably busy this time of year…

  6. I agree, Craig. Why then, when we vote to approve a call to a pastor in our denomination (PCA), do we do it anonymously? I’ve long thought, for the reasons you give here, that if someone has an objection to calling a particular candidate, that they need to raise their hand and articulate their objection to the entire congregation. Maybe you know the answer to that question, since you might be a pastor someday.

  7. It’s an interesting question, Emily, and one for the Book of Church Order (everything else seems to be in there). I still experience periodic discomfort with the way the PCA “calls” pastors; it all seems like such a big free agency at times, at least compared with a denominational infrastructure that is a bit more centralized. Regardless of the system, the anonymity of either is a recipe for a disaster.

  8. So, if you want to know more about me before I comment, go to My blog isn’t as consistent, academic, clever, or insightful as this one, but its just unvarnished stuff as I see it at the moment – and often before I’ve had it cooking long enough for it to get “done”.

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