How to Surf with Virtual Integrity
- Monday, August 18, 2008
Don’t fool yourself. Examine your motives each time before you go online so you can clearly and honestly understand why you’re thinking and acting the way you are – and avoid deceiving yourself by letting your online experiences shape you instead of vice versa. Do you want to log on to a social networking site just to engage in interesting conversations, or to make yourself feel popular by adding names to your buddy list, even if they’re not all genuine friends? Do you find yourself visiting websites devoted to topics that you say you don’t really care about? Remember that your surfing patterns often reveal the true desires of your heart. How much time are you really spending online? Are you online when you should be doing something else, yet find it hard to cut back? Before sending a message to someone online, read it and consider if that’s what you really intend to communicate, or if you’ve written something in haste or anger that you’ll regret later.
Be careful at work. Take a hard look at the ways you use the Internet at work as well as at home. Remember that doing great work isn’t an excuse for using work time to surf the Internet in inappropriate ways. Talk with your boss about exactly how you should and shouldn’t be spending your time online on the job. Don’t cut into your productivity by spending time during the workday on frivolous activities like doing online shopping, playing fantasy sports games online, or surfing through celebrity gossip sites. Avoid visiting sites that could get you into trouble at work, like those that relate to gambling or pornography. Ask yourself: “What would happen if my boss or other company leaders knew everywhere I surf online, and for how long? Can I defend my actions?”, “What if my pastor, spouse, or trusted coworkers discovered my actions?”, “Will I view my surfing habits as positive or negative five years from now?”, “Are my actions honoring to God?” and “Is my behavior helping or hurting my company?”.
Refresh your values in cyberspace. Reexamine your offline beliefs (those you follow in the real world) based on the Bible. Compare and contrast your online and offline thoughts and behaviors. Discuss this with some people you trust. Then establish a renewed list of values and behaviors for online life.
Pledge personal online integrity. Articulate your desire to align your online life with the values you profess by creating a personal Internet mission statement. Share it with some of your closest friends and family, and consider even posting it publicly, such as to your personal pages on MySpace or Facebook.
Seek trusted accountability. Ask someone you trust (like your spouse or sibling or close friend) to meet with you regularly to discuss your online life and encourage you to set and maintain the right boundaries.
Apply helpful technology. Research products like Internet access devices that can help you make healthy choices about how you use the Internet. Select the ones that meet your specific needs. Install and configure them. Maintain the technology well, and regularly reassess your technology needs as circumstances change.
Balance online and offline life. Constantly analyze when to use the Internet and when to turn it off and spend more time in the real world. If you find it hard to unplug when you need to, consider these tips: Set time parameters for each online task so you don’t get lost in cyberspace, try to limit your time online to certain times of the day, close your e-mail and turn off your instant messaging and RSS feeds while you’re trying to focus on a task, keep your goal in mind when you do Internet searches, and keep a running list of interesting links you uncover rather than just clicking on them right away.
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