It’s so predictable. It might be Fifty Shades of Grey; it might be a Christianity Today article seemingly condoning the legacy of Margaret Sanger; it might be a controversial book about homosexuality; it might be a salacious Christian news tidbit. The topic doesn’t really matter. The response is the same.
I will define #bandwagonblogging in the following manner:
#bandwagonblogging: (gerund, \’band-ˌwa-gənˈblȯg-ing\) writing primarily opinion pieces in such a way as to capitalize on the popularity of current hot topics.
Let’s take the recent Christianity Today article by Rachel Marie Stone “Contraception Saves Lives.” As soon as I read the article I knew in a matter of hours my social media feeds would be overflowing with reaction posts, blogs, articles, and opinion pieces decrying Margaret Sanger and calling for CT to redact everything. And that’s precisely what happened. From top to bottom, Christians faithfully responded to the trumpet call of #bandwagonblogging. Everyone needed to express their ire and outrage. With jaw clenched and fingers sizzling across the keyboard, bloggers across the globe jumped on the latest bandwagon before it rolled out of town.
The Critic Has His Place.
Christians have been engaging culture on controversial issues since the dawn of the Church. In his letters Paul repeatedly addresses false teaching, apostasy, dangerous church figures, and the importance of living lives worthy of the Gospel. Good shepherds of the church have always guarded the flock. In fact, pastors who do not teach their sheep to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” are setting their congregations up to be devoured “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16). This is all a part of obeying Peter’s command to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2).
Christians need to correctly understand the legacy of Margaret Sanger. Christians need to think rightly about movies. Christians need examples of faithful Christian thinking on cultural hot topics. But does the Church at large really need everyone’s opinion?
The Medium Shapes the Messenger.
As a blogger, I know the allure of high view counts and page visits. It didn’t take long for me to realize what types of articles and posts would generate a good amount of traffic. An arduous post about hermeneutics and authorial intent is not going to be a viral hit–even if it is a good piece of work. However, a thrown-together article on a hot topic like Victoria Osteen’s viral YouTube clip is a guaranteed winner. I don’t say this spitefully. It’s just a plain fact.
Every blogger is faced with this dilemma: embrace the relative obscurity of writing original pieces on meaningful topics or chase views and engage in #bandwagonblogging. It can be discouraging to write piece after piece of original, thoughtful material only to find that no one gives it the time of day. Blogging thrives on shares and views. The medium inevitably shapes not only the message, but the messengers. Perhaps some bloggers don’t realize they are chasing views when they are #bandwagonblogging. I myself have written articles occasionally about hot topics–hypocritical, I know–but we have to resist making views and page visits the primary objective for writing these articles.
Reactionarism is Unbecoming.
#Bandwagonblogging has become the internet’s version of the Christian picket line. We create a firestorm on our social media, sharing fiery reactionary posts and writing them ourselves. In a world of extremes, Christians are silently taught by the cavalcade of #bandwagonbloggers that we must feel very strongly about everything. Brothers, this knee-jerk reactionarism is unseemly for the man and woman who bear the name of Christ. We are like the irritable younger brother who is so fun to poke and annoy because he squeals at every provocation.
Just because others are feeling strongly about a certain cultural item does not mean you must also. And it certainly doesn’t mean the world needs to hear your opinion–or mine. I try my best to avoid writing strictly opinion pieces on this blog for a reason–my opinion on a given cultural issue doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to you.
Write Something that Will Last.
My final critique of #bandwagonblogging is that it is as fleeting as the passing wind. If our articles are driven about by the whims of cultural bustle, what we write is obsolete in a week’s time. Will anything you have written in the past year be of any value to Christians in ages to come? Will it even make sense to someone who stumbles upon it on the interwebz next year? Or is everything you write so culturally confined that it will never rise to significance outside of its initial milieu?
I’m certainly not perfect, but I am striving to produce content on this blog that will last. Yes, I will write the occasional movie review or comment on cultural issues, but by and large I want to write on topics that move me. I want to put together articles that are timeless. It may be that none of my articles live to see the next generation of Christians. God warned us that our lives would be this way: “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16). However, that does not deter me from striving to glorify God by exercising what little talent and skill he has given to produce personal, original, and thoughtful pieces. Hop off the bandwagon, and join me.