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Something I often read on the internet is that “this is not a good venue” for discussion, debate, encouragement, edifying one another. What is not a good venue? Facebook, blogs, Twitter. (Okay, forgive my personal bias here, but I’m not sure Twitter is a good venue for much of anything.)

It’s such a prevalent idea that many news sites have closed down their comments section, in part because people tend to become keyboard warriors and get  rather nasty. Still others require you to sign in with your email, facebook account, believing that if they remove the anonymity people will be more accountable for the words they type.

This post is not directed at anyone in particular, so if it speaks to you personally, that’s beyond my control. What actually triggered this was reading a long back and forth between a person and a lunkhead yesterday. A lunkhead, because he wasn’t really interested in discussion, he was interested in scoring points, generally making a complete nuisance of himself, what some would call trolling. The person trying to talk with him showed infinite patience and in the end the lunkhead eventually declared, “the internet is just not a good venue for educating people.”

This is a harsh bit of truth to swallow, but it’s actually not the internet, it’s you. Nearly always when people start blaming the venue, it means we’re behaving improperly. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people who do speak to one another respectfully, who actually discuss things, and while I’m sure everyone loses their temper sometimes, we just can’t blame “the venue” for our poor behavior.

The internet can be a rough place, you are speaking to people from all walks of life, some who are quit enboldened by not having to face you in person. Also, nothing is private on line, not ever, anything you say can and will be used against you. I say this for safety’s sake becasue many people still do not seem to understand that. So is the internet “a safe place?” No. Should it be? No, probably not.

I’m pretty open about my life, but there are somethings even I don’t speak of on line becasue it is a public place, not a safe place, mostly things having to do with other people’s privacy. I’m really a huge fan of privacy, dignity, safety. So, venue is important when it comes to emotional, spiritual health, and what and where you share. There are some things you just shouldn’t share on line. It’s the wrong venue.

I hope and pray that everyone in the world has some good friends, some trusted advisors, a church, family, people they can turn to when they need help, a venue for their voice. I’ve seen the harm that can come from keeping secrets, from having to bottle things up and handle them alone. Men can really struggle with this, in part because of cultural expectations, being stoic, being perceived as not needing help. That of course is false, we all do, we’re all social creatures.

Regarding the internet however, I have to put my foot down and declare, no it’s not the venue, it’s us. We are people, we tend to act the same darn way in person. We can’t blame “the venue.”

On the bright side, there is a whole lot of good going on on the internet, where people really do learn from one another, hash things out, learn new things, grow personally.