Christians, the Internet, and Rage Porn

angry-desk-flip-lSeveral times in the last few months, while scrolling my Facebook feed, I have come across friends who have posted those annoying fake news stories, that are technically “parodies”, but are not identifiable as parodies in any way, apart from reading the home page of the website it was originally posted on. These posts are usually political, outrageous, completely fabricated, and designed to induce rage in the reader. The thing that has blown me away is that on several occasions I’ve read where a comment will point out that the article is fictional, and the follow up comments will continue to pile on with rage about how “it might as well be true” or “that’s the sort of thing <insert some group here> would actually do.” In short, it doesn’t matter whether or not they’re true, these  articles become an excuse to pour fuel on the fire of rage at an ideological group. They are, what I refer to as “rage porn.” They exist for the sole purpose of feeding an emotional state. They become an excuse to express rage and fury on the internet. Rage porn isn’t limited to the fake stories. There are whole websites that do the same thing with single line quotes and mischaracterizations. In these cases, the news articles will feature a single sentence and an editorial about how evil the speaker and everyone associated with them is. There is not attempt at context or intelligent engagement. The only objective is eliciting an emotional response, because anger is political strength in our culture.

The crazy thing is that this pouring out of rage isn’t purging or venting anger. It’s the sort of anger that gets hotter and bigger the more it’s given voice. It snowballs. The more the reader engages it, the bigger the anger gets. It’s easy to reach the point where the entire perspective held about the opposing ideological group is nothing but venom and hate. It becomes difficult to see those involved as anything other than the caricature that sits pickling in rage, resentment, and bitterness.

Some might question the use of the word pornography to describe this sort of internet material. It’s not usually sexual or lewd. It’s just inflammatory. It serves no purpose other than generating a hateful response. Anger and hate can feel powerful. Many people enjoy feeling justified in the feeling of hate they can aim at others, particularly those who “have it coming.” Most rage porn puts the reader in a position where they can feel moral or intellectual superiority along with reveling in spite. All of these feelings are part of an image; folks seek out and read these articles in order to feel anger. The only difference between these posts and pornography is the emotions produced by consuming it.

For followers of Jesus, these stirring hatred and rage in our hearts is contrary to the lifestyle we are called to live. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to pray for those who mistreat us. He even demonstrates this attitude by praying for the Roman soldiers who were crucifying him. Paul directs us not to allow the sun to set on our anger. John’s first epistle tells us that anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. More directly, Paul writes the church in Ephesus:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:30-32
warning-42657_640Believers have no place in their lives for stoking the flames of rage over politics or anything else. We may mourn over sin in the world. We can feel free to disagree with the actions of others. We can speak out for Christ and the protection of the innocent and helpless. At the end of the day, we must love those who Christ bled and died for. We need to pray for the folks we would be tempted to judge and love the folks we are more tempted to despise. It’s important to note that love involves more than lip service. If I rage at and trash talk a person, then explain that I love them; I am not doing much in the way of demonstrating my love toward them. Our call is to serve and to love concretely. This isn’t easy. Turning to reading materials that inflame our rage at “the enemy” does little to produce the sort of holiness that Christ is directing us to.
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15 thoughts on “Christians, the Internet, and Rage Porn

  1. John says:

    I see this a lot on my fb feed also. I use to buy into this same thing but managed to see past it with God’s help. It seems people spread these things in order to emotionally convince someone of their point of view. It’s sad, but it works more often than not. It almost seems like a no-win scenario to get involved because then you are pointed to as the one who supports the opposing view, though this may not be true as you were only trying to dissipate some of the hatred. It seems no one wants to stand up for love anymore but only wants to point out what’s wrong and spread that hate should be the response, while, as you stated, they claim to “love.”

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    • patchingcracks says:

      It’s a tough balance. I’ve also found myself just avoiding the comments and Facebook discussions as well. It’s usually a no win and frustrating. I completely agree. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  2. You raise a good point. Anger is to be put away in the Christian life not incited.

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  3. Heather says:

    This is so well stated.
    Thank you!

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  4. Heather says:

    Reblogged this on Where Grace Abounds and commented:
    A couple years back, I was convicted of the tendency to clickety-click my way through the never ending maze of frightening or inflammatory Internet articles. It’s an oddly addictive habit; and the experience usually left me irritated, anxious and ultimately, depressed.
    This author does a wonderful job of articulating some thoughts I’ve had with regard to the need for Christians to exercise discernment in order to avoid fueling the destructive cyber-flames.

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  5. patchingcracks GOD is all over you! You are speaking to me. I totally understand where you are in this post. That’s a main reason I deleted my facebook a few years ago. A daily visit of drama and negative commentary was not good for me. My inbox was stressed. I deem that place the devil’s playground. But Facebook isn’t the only site its just more personal there, because the true colors of who you call friend shine bright there. If you read any comment section related to a post/response you will find this. This is marketing strategy for most media and social outlets. Rack em in at any costs, approve everything! We are all connected. You can not visit a site without visiting facebook first. If I am compelled to respond to a post, I always try to go positive. Its the reply to my response that changes the outcome. I keep trying to figure out…What do you say to someone who is negative in all there responses? Why do people even have an opinion about people they don’t know? It’s almost like conversating with the wall. It saddens me. I pray for people and ask them to seek Jesus. Thks for post!

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  6. tellthetruth1 says:

    I quit Facebook at least a year ago, give or take a few months. The reason I left was because some very peculiar and rude characters wanted to make contact. That sort of thing gives me the creeps. I’m now on one site only, and it’s a bit better, but you still need a lot of wisdom to clear the trolls out.

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  7. Good stuff! I’ve often wondered about the hatred and loathing pouring forth from Christian sources, aimed particularly at Obama and anyone who suggests that arms kill people. Maybe I’m blind, but I don’t see that attitude in the Bible, nor is it very common here in the UK (although I’m sure it exists here as well!). Let’s all express our spite and disgust with those people – Oh wait, hang on…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Trevor says:

    In this social media era of lessening face-to-face contact, we could easily swap the “do unto others” with “post unto others.”

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    • patchingcracks says:

      Agreed. I wonder how ofter believers look to Christ’s neighbor command when interacting online. I think the lack of face to face contact makes it easier to be venomous. It’s sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. mrteague says:

    Rage porn! What a perfect term. Anger, malice, & factions are listed as works of the flesh right along with sexual immorality in Galatians 5. It all comes from the flesh. Paul goes on to say if we are Christ’s we’ve crucified the flesh along with its passions and desires. Ideological rage shows that, in that way, we aren’t walking in the Spirit or the reality of the cross. This is often hidden from us in the midst of ideologic rage because we see ourselves as right. Great post.

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