Is being vulnerable online wound porn?

"Sophia's Back" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Sophia’s Back” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Like this cartoon. Buy a print of this or any of my art HERE.

I drew this cartoon to convey the grim reality that even though many people appear to be just fine, they are bearing wounds from serious abuse. I encourage them to bare these wounds in safe places where they can share their experiences, be heard, believed, and supported.

I read an interesting post by Jonathan Merritt, Put Your Clothes Back On: Oversharing Online Isn’t Wise. His original subtitle was “Even Virtual Vomit Goes Viral”.

It seems that Merritt lumps being vulnerable online into two groups:

  1. Sensationalism: He suggests that some are being overly vulnerable online just for the sake of sensationalism and getting attention and traffic.
  2. Desire to help: He intimates that others are being vulnerable online in order to help others own, share, and heal from their own wounds.

Merritt concludes after considering these two options, “Regardless, it is time Christians think more seriously about when, what, where, how and to whom we should share ourselves.”

He quotes Anne Marie Miller in Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community, “the bare-all culture that has progressed into our social media feeds sometimes exploit the brokenness instead of glorifying the Redeemer.”

I fear that the power behind Merritt’s warning to show restraint pushes the abused towards silence. Again.

I would agree that we need to practice discernment on ourselves and post our stories thoughtfully. But this is my concern:

I believe that sharing our stories and showing our wounds is a new trend for one major reason. For so long wounds have been an embarrassment, something to be ashamed of, things to be silent about, marks that bare ugly truths. Why? Mainly because our culture has been in the habit of protecting abusers. The code of silence around abuse and the abused is so powerfully enforced that there have been no avenues for the abused or wounded to find and raise their voices. It cost money, demanded documents, required inaccessible platforms, and resulted in stigmatization.

Then the internet happened. It’s cheap, doesn’t require proof, is an accessible platform to almost everybody, and raised awareness of abuse to the point where more people are realizing that abuse is not a bizarre, exceptional incident, but a cultural disease running rampant throughout almost all of our systems like marriage, family, business, and church, etcetera. In other words, abuse is not isolated, but systemic with specific manifestations.

Yes, there is bad porn. Gratuitous! But there is good porn. Helpful! It doesn’t take a very discerning person to tell the difference. I think there is some wound porn. Gratuitous! But there is also good wound porn. So very helpful!

When I read about other peoples’ experiences, almost all of the time I think it is helpful. Seldom do I come across someone’s story that I feel is gratuitous, selfish, exploitive, or mongering for traffic.

In fact, in case you didn’t know, this is what The Lasting Supper is all about. We have created a safe space where you can bare your wounds, be heard, understood, supported and cared for. Some wounds shown there are fresh, others are healing, and others are only the lingering scars. Whatever your story, whatever the condition of your wounds, you can show them off here. I invite you to take the leap and join us HERE.

 

 

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5 Responses

  1. Jill says:

    Martyring our bodies, our souls… and our voices too. That’s what the admonition is requiring IMO.

    Yes, caution is needed so we do not remain living in our wounds, stagnating in them, but releasing their grip on us by expressing ourselves is necessary for healing. The trick is finding the truly supportive places that honor our path and help us release the burdens of trauma.

    Anything less than that is counterproductive. Much of it, in my experience, is about listening to that inner guidance system-intuition-gut check.

    But our wounds tell a story, and until we release the grip they have on our lives, our own story– our purpose– gets lost in translation.

  2. Caryn LeMur says:

    Johnathan Merritt has a good point.

    Everyone knows that the church institutions thrive on hiding your true self, its wounds, and its doubts. That is why Jesus called certain opponents ‘white washed tombs’. It was not a compliment.

    Everyone knows that the church institution is famous for ignoring their cries, their wounds, and their vulnerability. That is why Jesus included two individuals that walked on the other side of the road, rather than dirty their priestly hands with someone that was half-dead. Oh, that was in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, by the way.

    So, for all those good pious young Christian leaders that wish to make it big in the church, by all means, learn to wear your mask well, and learn to avoid the wounded. You will go far in the eyes of men.

    However, for those that wish to live like Jesus… even for a day… we have to allow ourselves to be honestly human, and to carry some of the burden of the trauma of which we read.

    That’s right.

    It is traumatic to put ‘oil and wine’ upon the wounded body… you get covered in blood.

    It is traumatic to put the wounded upon your own transportation… their moans while you travel with them will echo in your ears for days.

    And it is financially traumatic to pay the Inn Keeper for someone else… and then to offer to pay more.

    But that is why it is called ‘Love’, as in ‘Love your Neighbor’.

    Love allows the voices of trauma to speak. Love hears the voices. Love moves towards the wounded, rather than away.

    Love is costly.

  3. Shazza tha dazzla says:

    Another thought provoking post, David. Thank you.

    I found this quote interesting too. “the bare-all culture that has progressed into our social media feeds sometimes exploit the brokenness instead of glorifying the Redeemer.” I find it an interesting call. Is it saying “Keep it nice for Jesus”? Because there was nothing nice about the narratives of Jesus’ death. Injustice, abuse of power, brutality and blood, public naked crucifixion on a human waste dump. Isn’t that the Redeemer’s story? We read this stuff to our kids! From the world’s most published book.

    Perhaps as you say, the “bare all” culture could well be working in opposition to the “nice” culture to BRING redemption – justice – to the abused? And conviction to the abusers? If we’re prepared to be as honest and messy about abuse as the Bible is in the crucifixion story?

  4. great insights folks! i appreciate it.

  5. Jill says:

    Shazza, that’s such a great point. How much dark, sticky, tawdry yuck is in the bible, and yet happy-faking-it church goers paint on their smiles of concern and whitewash reality! The book so many cling to never whitewashed any of it.

    That’s not to give carte blanche to the religious doomday fanaticism. It’s to recognize point blank that their is a message of love and compassion found there also.

    Are the religious communities going to continue playing the extremes or sort out that life is just as messed up as in the first century, and yet real, measurable, impactful love is still ultimately what defines us as human beings.