By now, I suspect you will have seen Rebecca Black’s debut single Friday. If not, add yourself to the other 21,176,864 witnesses of this televisual car-crash now:
The song has been subject to wave after wave of criticism and ill-tempered mockery across the internet. The song has been absolutely pilloried in music magazine and tv shows alike, and – sadly – as with most critiques, it quickly goes from the actual issue (i.e. the video) to personal slander. Good Morning America’s rigorously scientific poll has showed that 59% of 6,390 respondees believe that the internet response “isn’t too harsh”. Bear in mind, that one forum ‘Black-lash©’ will see pornographic pictures emailed to schools with ‘Rebecca Black’ name as a subject header (for more info, see ‘Operation Black Friday’ – the work of those perennial mischief-makers at 4chan)
What has this shown about humanity?
Two posts this week that showed a laudable response to our [internet] culture of hatred were Olivier Blanchard comments on the ugly side of the internet and Charlie Southwell’s post Is The Internet Dehumanising Us?. Their choice of topic was not original – in that many have already commented on how the internet is a hotbed of racism, xenophobia and ruthless trolling – but both posts expressed opinions about humanity and human nature that were quite divergent from my own (apologies in advance if I’ve grossly mischaracterised your respective worldviews, chaps!)
Olivier articulated -although this was in no way the primary thrust of his original post – that humans are essentially morally neutral but have the capacity to do good or bad actions with each individual choice:
100% of the social web’s potential is tied to human potential…Through the use of social platforms, we can be a force for good, or a force for cruelty and hatred.
Charlie’s post spoke about the internet’s ability to “dehumanize”, intimating that we are essentially ‘good’ but the internet facilitates/encourages our baser selves:
“…the internet has provided a dehumanising wall, with which to hide behind when pointing and laughing at real people. Vulnerable people”.
And I, somewhat morbidly, made the case in Charlie’s comments section, we are naturally ‘bad’ and:
…Consequently, unless we sort the problems within ourselves, the social web will continue to not only be a channel for “bad” behaviour but also a funnel, a magnifier and a receptacle too.
N.B. I encourage you to read the comments section of Charlie’s post in their entirety – they are rich in thought-provoking insight and opinion (especially mine, yo).
A [very brief and inexhaustive] Biblical view of Human nature
The Bible presents that at the beginning of creation, Man lived in harmony with God and nature – it was “good”. Then Genesis 3 went down, “we done goofed” and consequences will never be the same. The effects were that sin entered the world, marring us as humans, separating us from God and resulting in the kind of world which leads to the unseemly vilification of Rebecca Black.
Thus, when the Bible speaks of man’s natural state it does in uncompromising terms such as these:
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly” (Mark 7:21)
An unflattering assertion for sure, but – upon examining myself at least – a true one (my left ventricle in particular has a propensity to steal).
How Good Friday affects how I should treat Rebecca Black’s Friday…
Some 2,000 years ago a Jewish carpenter ambled around first century Palestine healing the sick, raising the dead and preaching repentance and the coming of God’s Kingdom. Three years into his ministry this man was considered such a threat to the established order that he was – as the result of a theo-political conspiracy – crucified by a Roman governor. After three days, the aforementioned carpenter rose from dead on a day known in Western Christianity as ‘Good Friday’.
According to the Bible, Jesus rising from the dead changes EVERYTHING. From how we relate to God to how we act to others in light of this.
To Christians, God has promised to “give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ez 36:26). This is not to say we will become morally unimpeachable nor does it follow that we will be the best or the nicest people, but it gives us a new impetus and empowerment to be different from the world. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus exhorts them to ” …let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph 4:31) and reminds them that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
For these reasons – and many more – let us Christians be known as a segment of society that is not quick to gracelessly eviscerate benign and easy targets such as Rebecca Black, but instead a people who show the fruit of the Spirit (sans sanctimony).
To those who don’t take so readily to Biblical injunctions, I simply say “Play nice” – it makes it better for all of us :)