Top 5 Ways To Not Be A Jerk Online

Last night I was with my friend, Jon Acuff.  The guy truly amazes me. I don’t know anyone who can be as consistently funny online and make fun of so many people (including me) without being a jerk. It’s a true gift.

He recently wrote an article for Relevant Magazine which he’s uniquely qualified to write entitled “How To Not Be a Jerk Online.”  Here’s a snippet of his points, but you should CLICK HERE and read the entire article.

1. Don’t publicly announce you’re unfollowing someone on Twitter.

This is the middle finger of Twitter. The person who you are unfollowing gets punched in the face and you look far more spiteful than you really intend.

2. Don’t argue with someone anonymously.

I once heard a pastor say that “hate mail that’s signed by nobody is worth nothing.” He’s right. If you’ve got a strong opinion about something someone else did or said or wrote online, don’t be a coward.

3. Don’t be someone else online.

We’ll tweet things we’d never say to someone’s face. We’ll comment on Facebook statuses in ways we’d never do in “real life.” We’ll push buttons and pick fights on comment threads and message boards. We’ll gossip and tear down people as if maybe “Love your neighbor” actually says, “Love your neighbor, except if you’re online.”

4. Don’t Jesus Juke

What’s that? A Jesus Juke is an idea I came up with to describe the moment when you’re having a normal conversation and someone jukes in some Jesus out of nowhere. For example, I once tweeted that I was at the Conan O’Brien live tour and it was sold out. Someone responded, “If we held a concert for Jesus and gave away free tickets, no one would come.” Sad trumpet, whaaa, waaaa. A Jesus Juke is the Christian version of the Debbie Downer moment.

5. Don’t mock people.

You know what no one has ever said in the history of mankind? “Remember that time you viciously mocked and made fun of other Christians? That helped me start a lifelong relationship with Christ. Thank you for using the spiritual gift of mockery in the service of the Kingdom.”

I thought Jon did a great job with the five he listed. Obviously there are a lot of jerks (maybe all of us at one time or another) online these days. Hoping this list helps all of us grow up a bit in our online interactions.

Which one of these five are you most tempted to engage in?

Is there one you would add to the list?

32 Responses to “Top 5 Ways To Not Be A Jerk Online”

  1. Carol C says:

    Don’t argue with someone anonyomously – that’s the one I’m most tempted to do because, let’s face it, I’m a wuss when it comes to real confrontation – even when it’s in defense of something worth defending. But there’s something therapeutic in anonymity. By the way, I’ve never been brave enough to actually do that either, but you should hear the brilliant responses I come up with in my head – lol

  2. Jason says:

    Good stuff from Mr. Acuff.

    If I had to add one, I’d say don’t endlessly brag online. If you’re at some exclusive event don’t tweet out every person you’re meeting to rub it in that you’re “in” and your followers aren’t. (I’m not talking a one-off, “I met Pete Wilson at the airport” kind of thing but a scheduled private event.) Bragging that you get special treatment can really irritate folks.

  3. This may sound arrogant (and I hope it doesn’t) but none of those is me. I am not on Twitter (sorry about that to all my fans). LOL I “hate” anonymous mail. Why would I do it? I prefer to be myself in real life or virtual media. I see no sense in being seen as a fool by the JJ. And Jon’s satire about coming to Christ hits the nail on the head on the futility of mocking. I once knew a blogger who took pride in used #5 a lot but then found himself the victim of #2 & #3. It came back to haunt him. If the truth be known, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I may disagree and can do so politely, or I just need to keep my fingers off my keyboard. sorry for the long comment Pete. Thanks for putting this up. I see nothing good coming from vitriol.

  4. katdish says:

    There is sometimes a fine line between satire and mockery. I’m tempted to cross that line at times (I’m sure I have), and I’ve deleted some tweets before I sent them because even if made in jest, the written word doesn’t always convey that. Anonymous is a bad word in my book. If you can’t say something and sign your name to it, you probably shouldn’t be saying it.

    • Kim says:

      I’m most tempted to use #5 because, let’s face it, some of our “brothers and sisters” can come across as judgmental, hateful and not in the least Christ-like. So yes, if you post chain statuses about how God isn’t allowed in schools and how the rain is Jesus crying and “click like if you’re for God and just keep scrolling if you’re for the devil”, I will probably make fun of you early and often.

      One I would add: Stop exaggerating. You may, in fact, love your children more than life and be thrilled that you are able to stay home all day and tend to their every need, etc., but you can’t be serious that you never want to hop the next flight to Cancun for a week of solitude, peace and quiet. Stop making us “normal” Moms look bad!

  5. Spence Smith says:

    I agree with all of these. I made the mistake of unfollowing someone on twitter the old school way when i was overseas one time. I unfollowed him because of point number 5. but because i unfollowed him the old school way, it got announced to THE WORLD!!!! i typed in “unfollow their username” which was the old school way of unfollowing through text and i think because i was overseas on another cell network, it went out to the world… the result? it was bad. I felt bad. I apologized to him for that happening publicly… it was a bad mistake. not too mention, all the replys i got from people saying they had already unfollowed him or they were going to anyway.

    yep… great post and a great reminder. the experience changed they way i do things on twitter.

  6. Dale Coleman says:

    Yes, the Jesus juke has been something I have thought often about since reading Johns thoughts previously. We have all done, sometimes intentionally but sometimes not. It is a hood reminder to me to be thoughtful of others. John did accuse me of kid juking him awhile back when he posted a picture of the 28 books he was taking on vacation to read…along with his family. I thought he set himself up… And I am still a little hurt and confused what it meant. I even asked my 20 yr old and googled it. Didn’t help much.
    Keep writing good stuff guys, and don’t forget to play on the beach in the sand with the kiddos:) no juking.

  7. Dale Coleman says:

    I think the smiley faces got left off my post:)…. It was supposed to be humorous.. Hope that was the way it was received… Cheers

  8. Heather says:

    how about listing the shameless “i’m cooler than you” self promotion tweets. there is someone who i recently (quietly) stopped following because all they did was retweet other people’s comments about them and try to make profound “i have the corner on all knowledge” statements. they also had a bit of a martyr complex because they were controversial and all the rest of us mindless drones of christianity couldn’t understand how really cool and enlightened they were. it just got old. i followed them to read their commentary on the things they felt they were learning about God not the pretentious seeming tweets that daily flooded my timeline.

  9. judy says:

    I really like the” Jesus Juke” it’s right on and I think we can all be guilty of that one. I think I would add to the list, for me anyway it would be “disrespect” sometimes I don’t hear what the jist of the conversation is, I have a hard time with the concept and can over react. Being kind is always a good thing.

  10. Kimanzi says:

    I think the one I have to watch out for is being someone else online, it’s just so easy to do. I think one that should be on the list is to gossip online or gossip about something that you saw about someone online. Praise the Lord for His grace, I love the verse in Romans that says “where sin did abound, grace did much more abound”

  11. Julie R. says:

    I am most often tempted to post anonymously, or be someone else online… which to me is really the same thing… Sometimes I can think things that are highly vehement and judgemental and since I am non-confrontational by nature I wouldn’t say something unless I could wrap it up pretty and deliver it in an extremely low key kind of way… otherwise I vent to the family. I am sure they get tired of hearing me go off about some of the things I wish I could reply to… such as, how I am being denied by Jesus in heaven because I refuse to repost that I love God or Jesus. You know, I am pretty sure the Master of the Universe has more to do with His time than check my Facebook page to see if I am “liking” Him or not…

  12. Kim says:

    Don’t Vaguebook – post some vague status on Facebook to either draw attention to yourself or make a statement to someone you hope will read it and realize it’s for them because you don’t have to courage to say it to their face. So annoying. And so true on the Jesus Juke! It’s like when you tell someone to have a nice day and they reply for you to have a great week. Yeah? Have a blessed life! lol!

  13. Jody says:

    …boy, and I glad that #2 has never happened here on WithoutWax

  14. James says:

    I’m jealous of Pete’s hair.

  15. gracegab says:

    i am tempted to do #1, not on twitter though, but on facebook — been planning on deleting some people on my “friends” list. i have not done it, though, but after reading this, it got me thinking. maybe i’ll just scroll down and ‘ignore’ their (not-so-good) comments/statuses …

    anyway, the THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK option for us is always there. just pause and think first after typing anything — before you hit the (submit) button. it is almost always better than feeling sorry…

    thanks for this post, pastor pete!

  16. I agree with John Acuff on his first point about NoFollowing Twitter. I used to mock people a lot who don’t follow me back & the results were just exhausting.

  17. It is similar to #1. I have seen people publicly announcing on Facebook that they are about to “trim down their friends list.” While I believe that it may be a necessary thing to do in Facebook at one point, I do not see how it blesses people when a profile owner announces it and it leaves everyone wondering if they made the cut or not. It is most gracious to do it quietly.

    • Sadly, I also have to add this because I was a victim of it. I noticed an exchange on Facebook talking about a certain group of people who misunderstood the financial arrangements of a recent gathering. Sadly, I was one of those who misunderstood it. It would have been so much better if it was addressed to me personally and privately. I am more than willing to take responsibility for my lack of understanding. Sadly, this subtle form of “bullying” still exists among adults in an extremely public forum. It is also a challenge to reflect on my past actions — it made me assess and see if I have done something similar in the past.

  18. ha. Think I’ve experienced all of these at some point. The Jesus juke may be the worst!

  19. Kelita Deems says:

    De-friending and friend requesting on facebook. There is a lady who has done this to me 3 times now. First because I walked by her in church and didn’t speak, 2nd when I refused to friend her 5 year old child and most recently when I didn’t respond to a blanket post that said “if you want to be my friend let me know”. Each time she has requested me again. This gets really annoying. It is childish and I don’t like drama. Enough is enough!

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