Welcome to the Blogosphere (Where Voices are a Dime a Dozen)

I was in the remote South-South region of Nigeria during the Easter of 2009. The town we stayed in did not have consistent electricity. Most businesses operated by candle or oil lantern at night. Every bit of the cooking I saw was either done on kerosene stoves or over a fire. Most people walked everywhere or had bicycles. If you had a little bit of money you might have had a 50cc Chinese-made motorcycle upon which you would transport your family of five. Many of the homes were made of mud walls on a stick frame with thatched roofs. Everyone in that city had to rely on generators for essential electrical needs, but most generators did not run all day. If you were fortunate enough to have municipal water, it was not safe to drink. Trash blew the streets like leaves on a fall day. I think you get the picture. But among this all too common scene of African scantiness something caught my eye—cellphones—an abundance of cellphones. As I began to pay attention, I noticed most people didn’t just have one phone, no, more often than not, people had two or three cellphones—men and women. And there, in a part of Africa, without potable water, sanitation service, where people burn their trash to dispose of it; in a place with no more than three hours of electricity a day, the Internet was available on cellphones. (We even pulled up YouTube one day just to do it.)

 

On another trip, we were in the bush of Uganda, at the base of an extinct volcano near the Kenyan border, preaching at a pastors’ conference. The home of the pastor we were visiting had no electricity or running water. Many of the children in that village ran around without pants (for some reason they had tattered shirts). The livestock were tied to rocks and allowed to graze in circles. The pastor’s compound had a small brick and mortar house surrounded by three traditional round mud huts used for sleeping and cooking. And even there, we not only had cell signal, we had Internet. And there, we not only pulled up YouTube, we actually watched a video or two.

bush phone
Smartphones abound in Africa.

Anyone, anywhere, can now have a voice and a platform, even when they could never earn that platform from God or even the experts in their perspective fields.

The Internet is everywhere and it is no different than any tool man has ever developed—it can be used to advance mankind or it can be used to reveal its baser nature. Blogs are no different. Blogs can be used to advance education and communicate philosophy, or they can be used to slander, defame, and harm. There is only one real problem with the Internet and blogging—anyone can do it. No regulations. No accreditations required. No vetting process. No test. Nothing. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and an opinion. Or really, just a smart phone and some cell signal. Anyone anywhere can blog. So why trust anything on the Internet? It takes nothing to be published online. You don’t even need an editor. You can even choose to ignore spellcheck if you want and shamelessly publish illiterate articles. Anyone can blog and claim, “I’m a published author,” or, “I publish a blog.” Anyone can produce a website now. Any retiree, schoolteacher, hobbyist, or sofa scientist can host a website. Any conspiracy theorist, Internet theologian, veteran, vegan, grassroots politician, or tree-hugger can build a blog. Any amateur artist, cook, tailor, poet, or scrapbooker can now have an online store. Any slanderer, critic, liar, deceiver, or disgruntled employee is now empowered to be heard and feel important (and maybe get a little retribution). And really, that’s what makes blogging and the Internet so popular. Anyone, anywhere, can now have a voice and a platform, even when they could never earn that platform from God or even the experts in their perspective fields.

 

So why, if anyone with an opinion and a laptop can contribute to the blogosphere, add another blog? Simple: With so much vitriol, venom, and ignorance feeding the world’s insatiable appetite for depravity, I want to see if I can use this tool to help people rise above their baser nature by evaluating the doctrines of Mark T. Barclay in light of God’s holy Word and maybe even do a little bit of teaching along the way.

 

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