The Evil That Is the Blog

 (Daniel Nanescu)

According to an article in the latest issue of Ambassador Youth, the official teens publication of The Restored Church of God (RCG), …no one — including adults — should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes).

According to the article’s author, Kevin D. Denee, blogs are inherently sinful for a variety of reasons.

Blogs encourage people to think that they have a voice, that they can make a difference in the world, and that strangers should care what they think:

People naturally want to make a mark in this world; they want to make a difference, and many believe blogs will allow them to do this. However, most blogs, especially by teenagers, serve as nothing more than public diaries… Although certain professional weblogs can make a positive difference within some elements of society, teen blogging does not.

Blogs encourage vanity:

If you post mundane details of your life, you are in effect saying that your life is important and that people should read about it. Also, whether or not you admit it, having a blog with your name, your picture and your opinions strokes the human ego — it lifts you up. It essentially advertises the self! Many teenagers say, Listen to me, world, and what I have to say,’ when they should be focused on changing and cleaning up their lives.

Blogging encourages folks (i.e. teens) to indulge in idle prattle:

Blogs can be summed up as people talking about almost anything, but really nothing. There is no purpose to much of the contents — no direction.

Blogs are simply a waste of time:

Young people should spend time doing things that are productive. Our goal in life is to become a more effective person — to get baptized into the Church and build holy, righteous godly character for the rest of ones life. But what does blogging ultimately achieve? Nothing!

Blogs can (and apparently, usually do) have the appearance of evil:

Blogs can easily link to each other. This social network allows people to become “friends” fairly easily with another blogger. As soon as this happens, the person is viewed as a friend by anyone who visits the blog. Whether or not the person is a friend, the appearance of evil is glaring in such situations. Young people in the world are far different then those in the Church. The things they will say and do — even on someone elses blog — will make one blush.

Of course, the solution to all of the above problems is to simply avoid blogs (and personal websites) altogether, regardless of a person’s age, maturity, personal convictions, etc. In other words, it looks like the tried and true “if it can be abused, it ought not be used” argument in all its glory.

Everything under the sun can and will be abused. Everything under the sun is abused. You don’t have to be posting on a blog to engage in idle chatter, or to spread offensive and malicious language. Gossip in the church foyer can be just as bad. So does that mean we should stop talking or stop attending church, lest we succumb to the appearance of evil?

Folks have been talking about their sexual exploits and appetites in less than glorifying ways for millennia now, long before the advent of blogging. But that doesn’t mean we simply stop talking about sex (whether on blogs or elsewhere) or — God forbid — stop having sex.

But just because something is abused or used in less than a Godly fashion doesn’t mean we simply stop using it altogether. I find it ironic that this article condemning the so-called “blogosphere”, which makes up a vast portion of the World Wide Web, has been posted on the World Wide Web, which everyone knows contains vast amounts of wicked content like pornography, slander, and of course, blogs. Obviously, the Internet’s vast possibilities are being abused, but that doesn’t stop the RCG from using it to publish and spread their teachings. (And the irony doesn’t stop there; it could be argued that the website on which this article appeared is — gasp — itself a blog.)

To be fair, the article does make some valuable points. The vast majority of content on the blogosphere is (arguably) not terribly important in the grand scheme of things and/or is driven by an incredible amount of vanity and bile — witness the depressing rise in celebrity gossip blogs. And plenty of that content contains too much information about matters that are better kept private, or is nothing more than petty gossip.

But these points, as good as they might be, are taken to such an irrational and ridiculous extreme in Denee’s article that they become almost nonsensical.

An allowance is made for “professional” blogs that are used for “legitimate business purposes” — but that’s an ambiguous allowance at best. How do you determine which purposes are legitimate and business-related, and which are not? How do you determine which blogs are professional or not? Which blogs would fit under such criteria?

Would a blog run buy an established adult video company fall under such criteria? After all, it’s a professional blog, and is being used for legitimate business purposes (even though it stands to reason that Denee probably would take offense at such purposes). Would Kottke, which is being run as a full-time occupation? Would Twitch, which is written by a number of intelligent and passionate individuals? Would Zeldman or Subtraction, which blend personal commentary with searing insight into the world of design? Or Daring Fireball, which is chock-full of great tech info.

What about various “Christian” blogs like Looking Closer, Razing the Bar, or GetReligion? The primary purpose of these blogs is not really business-related, and so would probably not fit Denee’s criteria, but they do espouse values and thoughts that would ostensibly be agreeable to the RCG, they encourage folks to think on good and worthy things, and they are certainly not full of “idle” chatter. Indeed, I have been convicted, inspired, and challenged in my own Christian faith by the “idle” and “vain” posts on these blogs, and others like them. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many other folks would say the same thing.

The distinctions drawn up in the article are nonsensical and, to be quite honest, legalistic. They’re false standards — standards that may have been founded on good principles and with good intentions — but they’re nevertheless false. What’s more, they serve only to breed the sort of isolationistic, “us vs. them”, “keep out the big, bad secular world” mentality that has plagued the Church since, well, day one.

For more responses to this article, check out “Shutting Up The Sheep,” “Revenge Of The Blogs,” and “Blogging Un-Christian?,” or just peruse through Google’s listings.

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