Mark Driscoll and Social Media

July 14th, 2011
Mark Driscoll, Rachel Held Evans

When Mark Driscoll put his foot in his mouth on Facebook last week, it was the status update heard around the world. Rachel Held Evans quickly labeled him a bully and encouraged people to contact Mars Hill Church to request that Driscoll be held accountable by the church’s elders.

Apparently it worked--Mark responded, not with an apology, but with a something closer to a concession--that perhaps he should handle sensitive issues more judiciously and in a more appropriate forum than Twitter or Facebook. He even mentioned his executive elders “sitting him down” for a talk.

I received some feedback about the incident--dubbed Effemigate by a few of the blogs-- and while most people were in agreement with Rachel, some criticized her for her tone. It occurred to me that Rachel actually resorted to bullying Mark to remedy the situation. (Bullying means intimidating or making one’s way aggressively.) That’s not a swipe at her--some would argue that if you buy into her charge that Driscoll was being a bully, then it’s necessary to intimidate the bully in return. Fight fire with fire. "Stand up to him" is how Rachel put it. Call it what you want, she got results. (It worked for me in middle school too. I actually became friends with a long-time nemesis by beating him up.)

But I don’t buy her argument that Driscoll was a bully. I didn’t find his original comment to be the big deal so many made it out to be. It’s not like he approached the Don Imus level of reckless. But he did learn a lesson about the power of social media. Once you put something out there, you can’t take it back even if you want to.

In this age of instant push-button publishing, there are hardly any barriers to keep us from sharing our thoughts with the world as soon as we think them. That’s both exhilarating and terrifying, because if we fire something off from our smartphone before we’ve given it enough thought, we can create major problems for ourselves and others. And sometimes it’s not what we say, but how we say it that gets us into trouble.

Driscoll eventually deleted his original post, but not before it was immortalized in blog posts and screen captures. Still, in the grand scheme of things, this incident didn’t amount to much more than a little row.

I'm sure Congressman Anthony Weiner would be more than happy to trade scandals with Mark Driscoll.


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