What to Do About Disinhibition Cyber Effects, 4.0

What to Do about Disinhibition Cyber Effects, 4.0

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The concept of sharing freely and without fear is called the disinhibition effect. There is little inhibition about vulnerability with a stranger on the train because he can’t hurt you, so you believe. Of course, the possibility of being vulnerable and lacking perceived risk is part of cyberspace’s bait to lure us into its net. In real-world relationships like our families or the local church, it’s more challenging to “unlike” somebody. When bad things happen and hurts accumulate, we have to deal with them biblically (or not).

In This Series:

Lonely in Space

How often have you read on Facebook that someone said something unkind and never confessed it as a sin or asked for forgiveness? Right! Me, either. It would be exceptional for Christians to clean up their cyber dust-ups on social media. The norm is a “hit and run” cyber collision because they don’t have to interact with those annoying people in real life and space. The disinhibition effect releases us to say whatever is on our minds, and many times, we would never say those things to that person face-to-face. Real-world relationships take work, are tedious, and we offend people.

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And 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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).

That person who does not connect well in real space is a “Chatty Cathy” online. Why is she like this? She has had too much hurt in her real-world relationships, so before we judge her too quickly for lack of transparency in the real world, give this perspective a chance to simmer while thinking about how we can be a difference-maker. Hurting souls are everywhere, especially in a local church. Perhaps their reasons for connecting online are defenseless, but they are reasons. Real life is strewn with broken people, while Facebook is full of folks who prefer false intimacy, as they put their best foot forward while keeping everyone at “cyber-arms-length.”

Social media is like a drug to the hurting, desperate soul. They want community, but the local community has burned them too many times to keep returning. They become Christian cynics in cyberspace. I use the drug analogy because that is what drugs do for the person with an addiction; they are looking for an escape to satiate a desire. They get high to get away from it all. The social media addict spends their time on the net. It provides them with communal intimacy, albeit a false intimacy. I understand the temptation. It’s like porn in that it’s quick, accessible, and scratches an itch, but it does not come with the baggage and disappointment of fallen relationships. When a person embraces the disinhibition effect, they can unwittingly plunge into a darkness they never perceive while blaming everyone else for why they are doing what they are doing. They become victims with a portal and pathway to stay victimized.

Call to Action

  1. What is the disinhibition effect, and why is it so relationally dangerous?
  2. How do cyber relationships provide partial satiation to our Imago Dei communal desires?
  3. What do porn and social media have in common when it comes to striving for relationship and the perceived satisfaction?
  4. Have you succumbed to the disinhibition effect? If so, what is your first step in breaking free?
  5. Is there someone you need to speak with because of something sinful you said to them online? If so, will you talk with them?

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