For those of you who read my previous publication, "Surfer Boys:Boylove On The Internet" I add this update not as a lesson, nor as a warning, but as a requiem for my last attempt at evangelizing Cyberspace. Let me fill you in...
I had published "Surfer Boys" earlier this month as a closing chapter on my dialogue with Boylovers of the Net. After coming across a picture of a boy who was in my youth group, and then getting in contact with him again, I counted my blessings and decided to move on and leave the underbelly of the Web to itself. This was not to be.
Earlier this week I began to receive E-mails from Boylovers concerning my publication. Before I had time to process where they could have located it, I received two important messages from Child Advocates. One was from a man named Alan Walker. Alan had been abused as a child by a older male "friend" and then had some terrible experiences(including attempted murder) trying to free himself from this man. I don't want to quote his story incorrectly, so if you are interested in checking out his Webpage the address will be at the bottom of this publication. Anyway, he said he appreciated what I had to say and invited me to read about his organization, GOCIP.
The other message was from Mike Echols. For those of you who have seen the movie(or read the book), "I Know My First Name Is Steven", Mike was the author. He too is involved in stopping pedophiles on the Net. However, his message was a little less encouraging than Alan's. In a very real sense he was questioning whether I was on the up and up. He left me a link to a message board for Boylovers called "Boy Chat" and hinted that I probably already knew of its existence. I followed the link and was shocked to find a few postings regarding "Surfer Boys".
Evidently, someone had accessed it and posted the URL on "Boy Chat". Now here's where the story starts to get twisted...The Boylovers too were unsure of where I was coming from. Some insinuated that I was more of "a brother" to them than I wanted to let on. But one guy said he thought my nickname was suspicious. He said that the name "Surfboy" was used by someone when posting pictures to a Boylove Newsgroup. Therefore he reasoned, I and Surfboy must be one and the same.
First of all, I don't have a nickname on the net. I guess I'm too naieve for the deception that comes with false names and E-mail addresses. The name "Surfboy" came from the file name I used on my URL at Tripod:
You think most computer buffs(which I am not) would make the correlation between the title of the publication and the file name. Evidently, they didn't.
Anyway, so there were some flags raised and alarms going off on both sides of the fence. The Boylovers wondering who this Pastor guy is and if he is a closet pedophile, and the Child Advocates responding similarily. I asked Mike Nichols why there were some suspicions about me and he said it had to do with the type of language I used in my writing, such as saying the boy I had lost had returned, and of course the argument I was making about the comomon ground boylovers and youth pastors share. After a few E-mails back and forth we came to a tentative peace that I was who I said I was and Mike said that perhaps I should be more blatant about my Christianity. I reminded him that my publication was for youth pastors so to make a big point about me being a Christian would have been redundant.
At this point, I turned my attention to the Boylovers. I went back to Boy Chat and clarified that I was not "Surfboy" and if anyone had any comments about my publication, now was the time to talk to me.
For the next few hours my name dominated the Board. There were insults, there were genuine questions, and more than anything else, there was paranoia. Everything I said seemed to take on a second meaning. It seemed they were searching for anything to prove that I was trying to set them up, trap them or just hook them in so I could lay all my "hate" on them. Some professed to be Christians and we had a decent dialogue about the way God sees motives for loving a boy as opposed to the way man may see it, especially a man involved in Boylove.
When it seemed the entire board was consumed by my presence, one particular poster made a comment that it would be great if there was a way for Boylovers to dialogue with Pastors without spewing hatred and flames. I remembered a link I had saved about a free Message Board so I went to it and within five minutes had set up a board called "Common Ground". I invited whoever was interested from the chat board to follow me there to continue our discussions. Little did I know the waters were ready to rage again.
I waited and waited and no one seemed to post. Out of boredom, I decided to E-mail Alan Walker and Mike Nichols and let them know about the Board. I offered them a chance to dialogue with the BL's at a neutral location. Bad move on my part. Shortly thereafter I received an angry response from Alan Walker. He couldn't believe that I was willing to meet the Boylovers halfway and even angrier that I suggest mediation between his side and theirs. He was right. I didn't take the time to think through the way he feels about Boylovers and all that he had endured growing up. I was too caught up in the moment of possibly making headway with some of these guys at BoyChat that I failed to recognize the intensity and significance of a war that had started long before I came into the picture. Again, after a few mail exchanges, we both cooled down and things were settled between us.
I left Alan and went to check on the Message Board I had set up. There were some inelgible initials and nonsense left so I went to BoyChat to see what the deal was. Evidently, when you leave a message on the Board it posts your IP number. Needless to say the BL's weren't too thrilled about the possiblity of being traced or exposed. They saw this as a deliberate set up on my part and some posters weren't too happy with me.
Okay, here's the part of the story where I start to lose it. I couldn't believe that these guys are so paranoid that they thought I would go through all this trouble to get their IP numbers(I found out later they are posted at ALL chatboards-even BoyChat). I posted that if they had any guts at all they would come out of the dark and start standing up for what they believe. If they were so certain that they were right and the rest of society was wrong, they should be willing to fight for it. No response...
This next part I am not proud of. I sent a rather rude message to Anne accusing her of being judgmental and that she should check out her facts before she points the finger. Well, she E-mailed me back and again, set me straight about the serious things that were transpiring between her camp and the Boylovers. This is out and out war folks. So again, I ate crow and apologized. I got caught up in the flesh and spoke too soon. I brought down the board, went and posted at BoyChat that I was out of the Mediator business, turned off my WebTV, and spent a long time in prayer....
So here's my observations after my latest(and last) adventure in Cyberspace. First, spiritual blindness affects both sides of this issue. The Boylovers who are not saved are bound to end up in exactly the same place where the Child Advocates who are not saved will end up. I know this will anger the Advocates, but the Bible says apart from Christ "there is none righteous, no not one."
This spiritual blindness causes both sides to suspect anyone and everyone. Each side is not interested in a mediator-only die hard allies. The BL's want you to accept their lifestyle and "orientation". As for the Advocates, I'm not sure if there is anything short of a Boylovers head on a platter that would admit me into their club. For each group there is no middle ground. I believe we as Christians are called closeminded and bigots for believing the same concept regarding our faith in Christ.
Secondly, if you feel you are called to witness in Cyberspace, be ready. It is a lawless land, and attacks will come from both sides. I thought I had pretty thick skin but I guess I was wrong. Faith and good intentions are not enough. You must have computer knowledge, a real and deep involvement in the battle you are undertaking, and most importantly-much time on your knees before God.
As I wrote to Boylover and Advocate alike, I have enough battles in the real world without fighting in Cyberspace as well. For those of you who choose to fight, pick your battles well.
Alan Walker's Website