Life in joined up handwriting

Sometimes very strange things can motivate you. Things that you would not give credence to in the cold light of day. But these can be the things that cause us to act with the greatest fervour, provoke us to respond with haste and all the while convince us that we’re acting of our own accord.

I do things because I think people will like them.

I don’t do things because if I did it might cause people to think badly of me.

I write because I want people to read.

I write stuff I know people read because I want lots of people to read what I have to say.

It makes me think that what I have to say matters, as though I have a contribution that is worthy of the stage upon which I stroll. A bit like back in December when I waded into the discussion of whether women should be more like the image set out in Proverbs 31 or a Victoria’s Secret model. I knew that my readership stats would rocket. They do whenever I write on relationships. Which is probably why I’ve returned to it more times than perhaps I should.

Yet should this cause me to desist from writing just because it is popular, or should it cause me to question why I write? Of course it’s the later, I have never claimed to have any particular expertise on relationships, in fact it’s all rather comical the way things unfolded during last summer. But another motivation was suggested to me: am I writing to get a girlfriend?

And to that the answer is a simple no. At no point has that motivated me or caused me to write something which I otherwise wouldn’t write.

But I write to provoke a response. I think most writers do. And I know what the response is to different kinds of writing. I know that an angry rant isn’t going to win me any admirers. But I know that sentences carefully crafted and strung together in a particular form will show me as an understanding, considerate person. And maybe once I realised that, I chose to write like that.

So if I’m writing in a way about an emotional issue in a way that causes people, but in particular women, to think better of me, then does that equate to writing to find a girlfriend? Only as much as walking out the door after double checking how your clothes look could mean the same.

Only as much as my performing to the best of my ability when I know people are looking, is a little better then when they might not.

So when I read a blog recently with the caveat that it wasn’t in the search of a partner, despite ostensibly being all about that, I was a bit sceptical. Because if you’re single and unless you’ve taken a very absolute decision to remain so, most things you do have at least the smallest token of intent towards what the future might look like, maybe not always your marital status, maybe job promotion. Or the esteem you are held in by your colleagues, or your friends. Or even the likelihood of getting home in time for the final episode of Downton Abbey.

Because our lives are not made up of one off events. We have to learn to live in joined up handwriting, what we do today impacts on tomorrow, how we act in front of a crowd, a screen or an audience of one makes a difference.

Maybe we should have more confidence in our motives, last night I alighted on a twitter conversation on the back of someone else’s twitter gleanings. One lady put out a pitch on twitter for a husband. Simple, to the point, with four key prerequisites. And another replied suggesting maybe we should follow her lead.

I’ve heard a few stories of people meeting through comment threads on blogs, sharing tweets, and their relationship taking off from there. But I’ll be honest, I find it all a bit tough. Every now and then I read the words someone has written, and feel a connection to what they say. But I know nothing about why they are saying the words they use. I do not know if the inflection that connected with my own emotions was intentional, and if so, what specific intent it was laden with.

We can connect with people we would otherwise never meet. But we can also hide from those we perhaps should invest some face to face time. And while the online world can be real I would label it as a dubious reality, full of holes, uncertainty, confusion and misunderstanding. Maybe not that dissimilar to the rest of our lives.

Because it’s not just online that I can act differently. It’s when I’m on my own, thinking I am invisible to the world. Or when I’m with a certain group of people rather than others. It’s when I want someone to think better of me.

But before I leap to the inevitable conclusion that we should not live hypocritical lives with false facades and distinctions hold on a moment. I will act differently around different people because I don’t get to control everything, and I’m not just an individual making my way on my own. I am one of many, I am a part of a community, a multi faceted, permanently evolving community. Of people I know, of those I’ve just met, of people I’d rather avoid and maybe someone who I pay particular attention to.

And I live under the gaze and in the hand of a God who loves me. So I don’t get to run the show. I get to live in a wonderful opera with voices that soar and occasionally I join the action on the stage, responding to the story crafted by the myriad actors I share the stage with. Throwing in my own plots for consideration and interaction, my thoughts and idea, my hopes and my dreams. The things I hold so dearly it almost hurts. And the ones that never see the light of day but are known by god nonetheless.

So maybe being clear helps us all. Throwing the curtains wide open to let the world see into the life we lead. Maybe a pitch for a spouse doesn’t hurt. Maybe an acknowledgement that most single people are on the look out most of the time helps clear the air. But where’s the line, because surely there is one?  What’s too much information, or emotion to throw out into the ether in the hope it might connect with another who might then respond? Is it not that different from our everyday flirting? I guess it isn’t, but that little bit harder to know who’s receiving it and how they’re reading it.

And maybe soon I’ll get to penning a few words about internet dating. But not right now. I’m off to do my hair and check the colours of my clothes work together.

The dark underbelly of internet dating

I know nothing about internet dating. So I’m not going to blog much about it, if anyone wants to write a guest post about why it’s great, or why it’s dreadful please get in touch. I’m sure it’s something people are interested in and a challenge for Christians to know how to engage with it. Otherwise you’ll just get my ignorant ramblings at some point in the future.

But that’s not what I’m writing about now. This is something that I do not need to know much about to be outraged. Advertising encouraging people to have an affair. It is wrong, it is immoral and it is a deeply disturbing aspect of our society that tolerates and perpetuates such damaging behaviour.

Jon Kuhrt has taken on this shameful type of advertising before, last year a website ran billboard posters encouraging affairs, Jon stepped up to the plate, took them on and won. But now they are back at it again, different name, different website, same horrific attempt to profiteer by ruining marriages. Jon’s written an open letter to the boss, Ross Williams, of the parent company, Global Personals. Read through his letter and I’d encourage you to give them a call and express your thoughts in a kind and considered manner. Also, join the facebook group for the campaign. For good reason the name of the site is being kept out of this, the controversy could just end up sending more traffic to the site.

And that’s almost all I would have to say on the topic.

If it wasn’t for which I stumbled upon while digging around the Global Personal website, which conveniently seems to be undergoing some redevelopment right now.

So a Christian dating website is part of a company which also runs a site which promotes unfaithfulness. It would seem so. That is, if you want to describe Just Christian Dating as a Christian dating website. Because it can’t be, unless you want to also call the mafia turning up for confession as the epitome of radical discipleship.

There are somethings which we shouldn’t accept. They may not be illegal, but the brazen attempt to make money by pulling people’s lives apart should not go unnoticed. And the thought that by putting ‘Christian’ into a dating site’s address could make it so.

Actually, that’s not so uncommon a problem. It’s not just online dating entrepreneurs who market their products to the church. We do it too. The books and the music, the conferences and the courses. If we call something Christian then surely Christians will buy. Sadly we are too often sucked into this lie.

I’m not convinced about Christian dating websites, but if we are going to use them, please make sure they’re not money spinners tied to an enterprise which Jon Kurht describes as “like a drug dealer who promotes what they are pushing as harmless when really they are trading in something deadly and destructive”.