I’ve been thinking for some time about how I use the computer and the internet, it’s probably one of the biggest daily challenges I face. Not simply in avoiding temptation but in not using it as a cover for idleness or avoiding the important work I need to do. Not only that but in discipling and leading youth and helping parents, the issues thrown up by mobile phones, social networks and general internet access issues are important ones.
So as always I sought out some books on the subject and came on this one in the bargain section our shop. Daniel Lohrmann has spent his career in IT security and is something of an expert in that field. It’s encouraging to see Christians be salt and light and seek to exert a godly influence in these fields. Virtual Integrity is his attempt to bring together his career and his faith.
It was a hit and miss read for me but with probably a few more hits than misses. I appreciated the way he dealt with broader issues than blocking pornography and ‘integrity theft’ is a bigger danger to Christians than ‘identity theft’ and one with a different kind of solution. The internet is not just a breeding ground for sins of the flesh but for gossip, greed, lying, deceit and so on.
His knowledge of the technology and the ways in which e-marketers seek to draw you in and to ‘tempt the click,’ gives you a sense of insider knowledge and his encouragement for Christians to seek to ‘surf their values’ is both wise and helpful counsel. His vision of a value-centred internet experience was thought-provoking and eminently sensible and achievable. These are all ‘hits’.
For me the book loses its way a bit as it morphs into a basic guide to installing anti-virus protection and parental controls. This was basic, ‘how to turn on your computer stuff’ aimed at the technologically illiterate. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that – everyone needs to learn somehow but I wasn’t convinced this was that place. Due to the speed of change the links may soon be redundant and this will date this book badly. Those passages led to a fair bit of skimming and the book lost pace and force for me as a result.
On the whole though, Lohrmann raises the issue of integrity well and makes it abundantly clear that God sees what you post on Facebook! Don’t do online what you would be ashamed to do offline, is a good rule of thumb but it goes beyond that to adopting positive values that transform the web and not simply keep us away from the vileness that is so abundant.
Worth reading as an introduction both to safe internet usage and the issue of online integrity.