The Christwire Handbook: Staying Saved in a Wicked World (Citadel, $14.95) is out now.
ChristWire's successes in finding a new-media niche may lie in the fact that its authors are not afraid to challenge the 'hivemind' of an increasingly interconnected yet increasingly biased culture.
In this age of instant communication, ChristWire's writers often challenge the sacred calves of the radical left and pop culture, from music bands to pretentious TV stars, to trendy websites and video games that are rarely covered outside specialized blogs. In the end, the site is able to get people to think about the importance of a web community like Reddit.com, the recent bastion of the anti-SOPA movement, or the singer Andy Beersack, the Madonna-esque glam-rocker for teeny-bopper Twilight aficionados, in the online culture at large.
But is the site serious, satire or some weird hybrid? Who are the people that really believe that every story and article on ChristWire must be the gospel truth? Even with the ChristWire Handbook that mirrors the website's raw nectar of truth and diligent mission to marinate the world in moral values, is every chapter representative of the GOP or the Christian right?
Christwire's readers can fall into a few basic categories:
The one-hit wonders. They see a Twitter or Facebook post; they browse, assume the site is crazy or another normal news site and leave. They may repost quickly or Retweet. They usually don't read the articles word for word.
The fans. They "get it" and wag their fingers in a frantic frenzy at the "nonbelievers".
The paranoid. They researched and found out the truth, but now have changed into a group of people who believe this ChristWire stuff.
The stupid. They just don't get it and never do and think ChristWire's pundits push faith on others. Aren't they the ones visiting?
The haters. "Sure it is 'humorous', but it's not done in good taste and it is purely hateful."
The blinded. Those who hate Christians so much, that they let their hatred blind them from not understanding the site's mission.
The true believer. The person who publicly agrees with most of the site's perceived religious or pundit-driven nature, even contributing their own pieces.
Many of ChristWire's visitors love the site for the comments alone. It's like a performance art piece where regulars sit by with a bag of popcorn watching the conversations and discourse on the site throughout the day. This interactive thread is the heart of the site and lies underneath, beckoning new readers to bask in a mental game of comment chess.
And is that really what modern media is all about, response and reactionary opinion? "The News" is becoming more about the pundit or journalist's passion and 'local color' flavor, telling a story that will get people worked up to laugh, believe, get upset or a response not fully expected.
A man named Abe could be jumping about his trailer, excitedly typing on his keyboard and telling his readers that the evil Chinese are making genetically engineered monsters to destroy Florida's ecosystem and America's economy. A political powerhouse commentator named Rachel Maddow can jump around her news studio and excitedly clap her hands, telling her viewers that the crazy Christians plotted for Sarah Palin to destroy Egypt. Where is the line in what is to believed and not believed? It's all news because the facts of today are largely biased emotion and gut instinct of what some person believes must be true, because the report mirrors their personal bias, fears, expectations or outlook on life.
Is Coachella 2012 really a festival of sin that will ruin the lives and backsides of pure, upstanding fraternity boys of the American southwest? Revered fire-and-brimstone journalist Tyson Bowers III and over 15 million readers seem to think so.
As media continues to trend toward 24-hour news stations and partisan news sites that communicate 'facts' instantly on Twitter and RSS feeds that masquerade as objective institutions, we will continue to see people flock toward stereotypes and similar-minded journalists in their struggle to keep up with the latest, breaking news.
With the increase in one-sided news reporting, we also see an increase in outrageous agenda driven headlines that are meant to be read as fact. Obama must be a no-good Muslim sympathizer with no birth records. It was on the news! The rascally Republicans have nothing better to do but chastise a verbally irate Howard Stern's Twitterings and organize a non-homosexual, all-privately insured utopia where personal freedoms are forgotten dream. Any mention of a brilliant and openly gay comedian like Ellen Degeneres or talented musician like Andy Biersack on a right-wing site must be to chastise, not flatter. Naturally, right?
As ChristWire's investigative journalist Stephenson Billings puts it, "People seem to think journalists occupy some hallowed ground of objectivity and wisdom, but they don't appreciate the fact that when they first make the choice to follow a certain newspaper writer or a television talking head, they did so based on their own biases and allegiances."
Billings continues, "For them, the media is credible when it reflects beliefs they already hold. Journalists like to believe they can change people's minds, but most of the time they're simply reinforcing people's fears and prejudices with their work. Maybe what we do shows that journalism isn't so sacred after all. Maybe we're just showing people how easy it is to construct an argument using scientific studies, political beliefs and cultural analysis to say whatever we want."
The personalities behind all the newscasters, TV personas and writers of ChristWire are amused, entertained, frightened and sometimes in awe of public response. People who believe in or even author various articles on ChristWire - especially those of a racier nature - represent a legitimate part of our society. But isn't the Tea Party and the radical left always full of crazed people with crazier beliefs? Ask the other side and you'll surely get an objective answer.
In a world of credulity based on gut instinct, fact and bias, why would people not find comfort with ChristWire's brand of hard-hitting, emotionally driven journalism? If the crux of modern journalism is vivid commentary and opinion, then at some point any person may find themselves believing or finding relevance to the journalism known as ChristWire.
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