The generation that was raised in the Great Depression, and endured and fought World War II says that religion is very important in their lives by a 71% majority, according to the Pew Research Center. They also attend church services once a week by a majority of 51%. Both of those percentages decrease by generational group to a low of 41% and 27% for Millennials.
As a group, those who have endured the most hardship are the most devoted to religious doctrine and practice. Those who have the most life experience have come to rely on God being an integral part of their everyday lives.
Even though all generational groups believe in God in relatively the same percentages, there is a trend away from organized religion and towards what is now called “spirituality.” This “spirituality” means that everyone can believe in God and His commandments in a way that most appeals to them. There is no religious or doctrinal authority. There is no commitment to God, nor his commandments. Into this relative morality void enters the false god of the internet.
Internet morality requires nothing of its devotees and yet gives one a sense of being a good person, as long you act as most people on-line think is acceptable. Without religious doctrine, you can make up your own rules; which is precisely the cause of so much hate, violence, heartache, and evil in the world. Self-righteous rhetoric has become the standard on social media.
The internet and social media are not intrinsically evil. Sharing experiences and learning from others has many potential benefits. However, as with most significant advances in human endeavor, a darker side typically develops. Internet morality has developed into a corrupt counterfeit for the divine and genuine.
We must stop following the false god of the internet for these reasons:
- Lies – There is no Internet Truth Monitor. We would be wise to heed this warning from Facebook – “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet – Abraham Lincoln.” There is evil in the world and evil people will use every means to take advantage of others.
Much of what is presented as fact is manipulated to support a falsehood. As David Mitchell sarcastically said, “Over 85% of all statistics are made up on the spot.” Politicians from two different parties can use the same data to support opposite opinions. It is all in which of the statistics is used, or ignored, and how effectively it can be spun.
- A faulty moral compass – The moral compass of our day consists of pleasant sounding platitudes that reflect the philosophies of men, with God playing a supporting role, only as needed. In the digital age, commercial media has a tremendous influence on morality, or lack thereof. Things that we regularly see on the internet, TV, in the theater and movies would have been scandalous a generation ago. Consider the source. Actors and Hollywood-types do not have a good track record of promoting self-restraint, virtue or integrity.
The jokes of TV comedians are now the only education that many receive on political, moral and social issues. This is one of the inherent problems of being “spiritual” – there is no real anchor to keep you from being swept away by nonsense, and most of what we see is just that.
- Emotional appeal – The internet bombards people with messages that appeal to emotions without considering the consequences. We have been taught that it is immoral to say anything that might make anyone feel bad for what they are doing. But, as philosopher C. Terry Warner put it, “Indulgence is a punitive counterfeit of charity.”
This counterfeit tolerance teaches that no one is allowed to judge anything to be good or evil. Relative morality is internet morality – nothing is right or wrong. The result is a world of people making up the rules as they go.
There is also an emotional appeal by attempting to take the moral high ground by preaching, “God is love. God is just love and nothing else; no justice, no obedience, no self- control and no accountability.” This is a false sense of righteousness.
- Dehumanizing – Internet morality is often manifested by self-righteous expressions of outrage for something that some other group, country, religion, corporation, etc. did and then demanding that the politicians “do something” to fix the problem. There is no personal commitment other than being offended. It is a virtual feeling of goodness for doing nothing.
The internet also allows us to mock others for their beliefs without having to justify anything that is said. Many on social media call others “haters” for not agreeing with them, and then spew hateful epithets to convince others to hate everyone that does not agree with them.
- Anonymity – It is much easier to be vulgar, hateful, caustic and radical when you don’t have to account for what you say. After all, the internet is just words and you can’t get in trouble when you are anonymous. Anonymity is a free pass to be your worst self.
- Wasteful – Much of what we see on the internet is not uplifting, beneficial or worthwhile. It is awash in triviality and filth. Wasting one’s life in trivialities is not what God intended for us to do on this earth. Genuine morality teaches us to be actively engaged in being good and doing good. The internet can easily prevent us from doing what we should while giving us a false sense of goodness because we validate others with our “Likes.”
- It is not true morality – In a Facebook world, the number of “Likes” someone receives for their opinion is deemed as proof that the opinion is valid and moral. Much of what is “Liked” on social media about family, religion, marriage, gender and fairness is diametrically opposed to what is taught in scripture, including the Ten Commandments. Morality is divine, and popularity has never been the standard.
We live in a real world, not a virtual one. We must be committed to a morality that lifts ourselves and others. The Ten Commandments have proven over the millennia to be a trustworthy foundation of a moral society. They are commandments of God and not suggestions, or broad guidelines open to loose interpretation.
Internet morality is counterfeit. Following the false god of the internet might make us feel good in the moment but it has no lasting value because it is neither divine nor genuine. We must return to true morality by following the example of the Greatest Generation – 1. Make God and religion very important in our lives. 2. Worship God in religious services regularly. 3. Obey God’s commandments. Thus, we will less hateful, less self-righteous, more truly moral, more happy and fulfilled.