The Internet has never been a place where everyone holds hands and sings kumbaya, but, over particularly the last 24 months, certain social media platforms have become more unpleasant than usual. It doesn’t matter if it’s politics or footnotes vs endnotes,[1. I wish I were kidding.] a fight is probably coming your way sooner than later. Worse, the more divided Westerners (but especially Americans) become, the more people retreat into their respective echo chambers to listen almost exclusively to those with whom they agree.
I’ve been thinking about the “why” behind this behavior. What is causing it? My suggestion is this: what we’re continuing to see play out is not simply heightened political division, but a clash of worldviews—an attack on one’s most deeply held beliefs about how the world works.
Let’s just take one simple example: I think most everyone agrees that the buzzwords we hear today—fake news, alternative facts and the like—are damaging. But the problem we face is not always with the words, but the worldview that underpins (or undermines) them. To decry fake news requires that one admit there is, as Francis Schaeffer put it, “true truth.” To say no to “alternative” facts is to say yes to the idea that there is an objective truth that can be known and understood by all. But the truth is, it’s going to be almost impossible to get anyone to agree to what the “truth” is.
Knowing this is what helps me keep sane when I read the news and engage online. There’s a powerful story being told right now before our eyes, one built upon the promise of human progress. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, change begins with me, and all that. And the reason so many people lash out in anger, tweet storming, and looting Starbucks stores isn’t simply that they’re angry about an election. Their worldview has been attacked, and they are fighting to protect it.[2. This is not just a “liberal” problem; political conservatives experience the same difficulties.]
But I also know there’s a better story—a true one that God’s been telling from the beginning of time. A story centered around one man, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life. The one by whom and for whom all things were created, who soon will come again to make all things new. That is the story I hold onto. That is the story that makes the world make sense. It’s the worldview that, that though challenged, can never be defeated.
After all, it’s the only one that’s true.