Want to help clean up social media?

We all bemoan the outrage cycle of social media. It’s become a constant drone in the background of our daily lives. Every day we’re mad about something. Conservatives and liberals take their turns, atheists and Christians, and people of every other belief and demographic.

What can we do about it? I think we can start by being a lot more selective about the fights we take up.

Just last week, a Twitter user shared a video of Maya Angelou correcting a young person for addressing her simply as “Maya.” In response, a few people tweeted about how disrespectful Angelou had been. Once those tweets got found, the floodgates opened. Countless people jumped on Twitter to off

But that’s not how the story got reported. Most people think it went down like Yashar Ali described:

Please know that Maya Angelou is trending nationally because there are some young folks who are offended that she directed a young woman to call her Ms. Angelou instead of Maya in a 20-year-old clip. We are doomed.

The problem is, that just isn’t true. She wasn’t trending nationally because people were offended that she demanded respect. She was trending nationally because people were offended that a tiny group of people were offended that she demanded respect.

With characterizations like Ali’s (and his “We are doomed” commentary), one would be led to believe that this is a widespread issue. It feeds into the outrage culture, the divisiveness, and the fearmongering by adding yet another thing that people think divides them from their fellow humans. “Can you believe this???” “People are so awful these days!” “I’m on team ______”

And we fall for it over and over and over.

A preemptive version of it even happened with the recent mosque shooting, with dozens of prominent Christian accounts tweeting and Facebook posting to make the point that Christians shouldn’t rejoice but rather mourn for the fallen muslim people, leaving the implication that there are countless vocal Christians who need to be told not to celebrate.

Remember the Starbucks Christmas cups fiasco of 2015? One or two loud “Christian voices” expressed outrage that Starbucks had released cups without the words “Merry Christmas” on them. Outsiders still derisively refer to the over-sensitivity of Christians by claiming that we got offended by Starbucks cups… and nobody would’ve ever known about it if we didn’t feel the need to respond.

The same thing happened with the supposed boycott of Star Wars: The Force Awakens because it included a black character, a boycott so large that it held the release to a paltry $2 billion gross.

And the same thing happened with the Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez “dancing scandal.” I never saw a single tweet, FB post, or article criticizing her (though I’m sure there were a few), yet the occurrence will now enter the internet lexicon as an example for the conservative right’s “snowflake-ishness.”

The opposing viewpoints people are posting in these cases are often true and right and good… and totally unnecessary. Almost every time something like this goes viral and becomes a trending topic, it trends because all of the people criticizing it, not because of the people promoting it. 500 people making it an issue can’t make something a worldwide trending topic… but a million people snapping back at them can. These social media virtue signaling campaigns take small, fringe groups that don’t deserve any kind of platform and give them headline status.

So, you want to quell the outrage machine that is social media? Don’t join in the outrage mob.

Unplug the outrage culture. Take a few minutes to research and see if there are actually any advocates for the thing you’re wanting to speak out against. Don’t help make problems bigger, more outrageous, and more scandalous than they really are. Let ignorant, obnoxious people on the fringes of society be ignorant, obnoxious people on the fringes of society. Don’t feed the trolls.

Be Better: A New Year’s Note to Myself

I’ve found that the best way to decide how to use a new year is to look back at the previous year and consider what I would have done differently if I could do it over. As I look back in order to look forward, it hits me just how much time I wasted over the last year, and really over almost the entirety of my adult life. I actually accomplished as much or more than I ever have in a year, but there’s still plenty of room for growth in the way I spend my time.

These memes all highlight the problem I (and many in my generation) struggle with pretty well:





They’re true, and they’re relatable, and the point is kinda funny when you meme it that way. I get it, but… rather than joking about all the time I waste, shouldn’t I be embarrassed about it? Time is the most valuable commodity we have, and we throw more of it away than perhaps any people group in history. Isn’t that more sad than funny? Rather than chuckling and saying “That’s so me,” shouldn’t images like this serve as motivation?

Why not just be great? Why not strive to do as much with our potential as possible? With such little time, why am I throwing so much of it away on the internet on so many nights? Why not use that time to grow? The people we all admire and read about and watch movies about aren’t the ones who let their lives slide by. It’s not only a God-given duty we have to be good stewards of the time, abilities, and opportunities we’ve been given (see Matthew 25), but it should be a joy to realize what we can be. Why revel in mediocrity when the power to be something more is in our hands? Isn’t that cool? Isn’t it exciting?

I’ve got some weight to lose. I’ve got a massive stack of books to read, and I’m hoping to get through at least 40 of them this year. For years I’ve been needing to re-start my learning in New Testament Greek. I’ve gotta stop chewing my fingernails. I want to fix my sleep habits to I go to bed on time and wake up early to have time to spend with God and work out. I need to do a lot better job of keeping up with friends and responding to emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. I have a number of ways I want to improve my ministry and my personal walk with God.

When I write out the whole list of things I want to get done, it starts to look daunting. Yours probably does, too. But when I realize how much I time I unknowingly throw away on Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc., it’s pretty clear I have all the time I need to do the things I want to accomplish.

The key, of course, is making the decision (and regularly reminding myself) that I want to grow more than I want to throw away the time by sleeping in in the morning or browsing the internet all night. If I don’t regularly, actively make that decision, I’ll involuntarily slide into a pattern of aimlessly spending my 24 hour allotments again, and another year will be wasted. So, I have to decide what I want more. And as an added benefit, when I take control of my time, even the time I do set aside for Netflix, Xbox, Facebook, or whatever else is more enjoyable.

But once that decision is made, the next step is to go about finding ways to motivate ourselves. Some people post their weight loss goals on Facebook and share regular updates so they can stay accountable to their group of friends. You could download a browser extension that limits your time on certain sites. My brother and I had a challenge that whoever hit the snooze button the most mornings would have to buy the other a movie ticket when we saw each other. (To my great shame, I lost – but my morning routine has been almost completely transformed in the process.) Whatever it takes, the important thing is to find a way to remind ourselves of what we really want – to grow rather than to stagnate.

I can look back on 2018 and be proud of a number of things, and I can look back with plenty of regrets. The things I’m proud of give me building blocks, the good habits formed that I can continue using into the future. The regrets give me plenty of room for growth. Lord willing, if I’m still around on January 1, 2020, I’ll have turned 2018’s regrets into 2019’s building blocks. If I stick with those changes day by day, and keep growing year after year, the person I’ll be 30 years from now will be someone who has something to show for all the time, opportunities, and abilities God gave me. Rather than reveling in mediocrity, let’s find ways to grow and be better this year.

Why your MJ > LeBron arguments are bad

I love sports debates. They’re like a sport within a sport. Since no debate is hotter than MJ vs. LeBron right now, and since I have a pretty strong opinion about it, I’ve been known to wade into it a few times. So, I’ve heard all of the arguments given in favor of Michael Jordan. I agree that he’s great, but I don’t think the arguments hold up. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones I’ve seen.

Nobody will ever be better than Jordan

In other words, “I refuse to be objective about this and therefore my opinion is not valid.”

LeBron wears #23 after Jordan so clearly Jordan is better


Michael didn’t have to leave to win.

Context. 1) LeBron’s teams were objectively awful. The Cavs had 7 years to get him help and couldn’t come up with anyone better than Larry Hughes. MJ had Scottie and Phil. If MJ were saddled with LeBron’s early Cleveland teams and never left, he would have precisely 0 rings. Basketball is a team game and nobody has ever won with teams that bad 2) Players didn’t leave in MJ’s day like they do now, but his discontentment with the team he had indicates he very well might have left in a different era.

LeBron has had better teammates

First, that’s demonstrably untrue. Statistically, LeBron has taken some laughably bad supporting casts to the Finals, including this year’s Cavs. In Michael’s 2nd 3-peat, he had 3 of the best supporting casts the Finals have seen since the start of his career.

Second, context. Michael played in a time where players didn’t really choose their teams, so super teams were rare. Once the Celtics and Lakers faded, the league was comprised of 2-star teams. Johnson and Barkley. Dumars and Isiah. Stockton and Malone. Hakeem and Drexler. Shaq and Penny. So, Jordan and Pippen was enough to go against anybody.

LeBron’s prime came during the heyday of the KG/Pierce/Allen Celtics, the Kobe/Pau/Bynum Lakers, and the Duncan/Manu/Parker Spurs, the KD/Westbrook/Harden/Ibaka Thunder, and ultimately the Curry/Klay/Draymond/Iggy/(KD) Warriors. LeBron had good teammates, yes. But that doesn’t mean his teammates were better than the competition, and that’s the context that matters.

Additionally, Jordan’s Bulls won 55 games and went to Game 7 of the 2nd round without him. The Cavs and Heat were lottery teams as soon as LeBron left.

Michael never lost in the Finals

Guess what that argument lacks? Context.

If the two had played with the exact same coaches and teammates against the exact same opponents, this would be a viable argument. Since they didn’t, the argument ignores all context. Does anybody really believe that if Michael had to play Curry’s Warriors with Matthew Dellavedova as his sidekick that he’d still be undefeated? Does anybody really believe that a 22 year old Michael Jordan would have been victorious against prime Pop, Duncan, Manu, and Parker with DREW GOODEN as his sidekick and MIKE BROWN on the sideline? Come on now.

The only reasons Michael has a perfect Finals record? He never dragged a team to the Finals that didn’t belong there, and he never played an opponent that was even marginally better than his team – let alone one that was historically dominant. Jordan beat teams he was supposed to beat.

LeBron is very likely about to add another Finals loss to his record. It’s totally nonsensical to use that loss as a mark against him. Instead, it’s a testament to him carrying an inferior team to a place they never belonged in the first place – again, something Jordan never did. Yes, he lost to a team he should have beaten in the 2011 Mavs. But he’s also beaten plenty of teams he shouldn’t have, none more prevalent than the 73-win Warriors in 2016.

LeBron wouldn’t have survived in the 80s

I mean… have you seen LeBron?

Did you see him hit this layup with a Celtic pulling on his shoulders like a human backpack?

He’d be fine.

LeBron flops

Sometimes. But he also fights through getting absolutely battered. By the time MJ was winning titles, he went to the line every time somebody looked at him funny.

Hand check rules made scoring easier in LeBron’s era

Maybe. But the illegal defense rules that were enforced in Michael’s era made isolation scoring ten times easier than it is today and yet for some reason nobody ever brings that up when comparing eras. Help defense was basically illegal.

Today’s NBA isn’t as good

I’ve always been told that the 80s and 90s NBA was miles ahead of today’s league. Thankfully we’ve got YouTube to confirm whether or not that’s true. Upon further review, the NBA back then was certainly different, but not in a good way. Between the differences in athleticism, size, and strategy, the NBA of Jordan’s day isn’t in the same galaxy as today’s. Check out these clips from two of MJ’s most famous performances (63 points vs. the Celtics, 55 points vs. the Suns) and tell me the NBA was more difficult then.

MJ 1.gif

MJ 2.gif

MJ 3.gif

MJ 4.gif


Memory has a way of making things a lot bigger and better than they were. That doesn’t make it true.

Michael was a better defender

In one sense, that’s probably true. He won a DPOY award and is well-known for his lock down abilities. But LeBron is no slouch, either. He finished 2nd in DPOY voting in two different seasons, and he’s made all-NBA first team defense five times (to Jordan’s nine). The other thing that sets him apart is that he is one of maybe two players ever (with Magic Johnson) who has effectively defended all 5 positions on a basketball court. His ability to switch onto anyone has literally broken the NBA to the point where traditional centers are fading out of the league. Maybe Michael was the better defender. But it wasn’t by much, and being able to lock a guy down doesn’t make him more important to team defense.


Michael Jordan will always be in the conversation as arguably the best ever. But that doesn’t mean he can’t ever be topped. When you look at the two as individuals, you see that LeBron is just the more complete player. Jordan is the slightly better scorer, but LeBron is easily the better rebounder and also has established himself as one of the best passers the game has ever seen. Yes, Jordan was clutch, but LeBron is too. He’s the best Game 7 player the NBA has ever had.

Simply put, he does things Jordan just couldn’t do. He played against an all-time great team in 2015 and still led the Finals in scoring, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. In 2017, hopelessly outgunned against the team that won 73 games and THEN added Kevin Durant, he averaged a triple-double in the Finals, becoming the only player in league history to do so. He puts up stat lines that are straight out of a video game on easy mode. He puts up stat lines that look like Russell and Wilt’s from the days where they were 4″ taller than their opponents. Add in his longevity and consistency that is rivaled only by Kareem Abul-Jabbar, and you have a person who has played at a higher level and for longer than anyone we’ve seen.

When you factor in the truth that basketball is a team game that makes players heavily dependent on teammates, coaches, and opponents and just measure the players on what they can do, LeBron is the clear winner. We’ve never seen a more complete basketball player.

Movie Review: “The Last Jedi” was atrocious (with spoilers)

As the title says, there are a lot of spoilers here. If you don’t want to know, stop here. And if you saw it, enjoyed it, and just want to leave it at that, I understand. I genuinely don’t want to attempt to ruin it for anyone who enjoyed it and doesn’t want to converse about it beyond that. For anyone else… let’s talk about how bad this movie really was.

The good:

  • While Rey’s built-up backstory was blatantly disregarded, she was much improved in this movie. The force and lightsaber fighting still come far too easily for her, and her knowing better than Luke at every turn (the opposite of the Luke-Yoda dynamic of ESB) was questionable, but at least there was a bit of a journey for the character this time.
  • Kylo Ren stepped up as arguably the standout character of the new trilogy (thus far). He genuinely kept me guessing the entire time.
  • Poe Dameron is a fun character and Oscar Isaac is easily the most talented actor in the cast.
  • Some of the scenes were truly amazing. The battle in Snoke’s throne room was one of the best Star Wars scenes ever. Yoda’s brief return and R2’s hologram were great additions. Poe’s X-Wing antics to start the movie were a lot of fun. It was everything that strung these great moments together that I had a problem with.

The bad:

  • The pacing. The movie felt about 5 hours long, partly because of the bad plots (addressed in the next point) that distracted from the big confrontation, and partly because the movie’s big, amazing climactic scene (Snoke’s throne room) wasn’t actually the movie’s climax. Imagine if Jabba’s Palace was tacked on to Empire Strikes Back after “I am your father.” That’s basically what this movie did.
  • It didn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. The porgs and caretakers were cheap laughs taken straight out of a quirky Marvel movie. Luke milking the weird alien cow was pointless and ridiculous. Maz Kanata’s inclusion in the movie didn’t make sense, and her wink-wink sexual reference was bizarre. Also, while not filled with profanity, the movie had more than any Star Wars movie I can recall.
  • Plot holes on plot holes on plot holes. And they built on each other. Let’s break down the most obvious.
  1. Luke. He created a monster that is terrorizing the universe, and as the only one who can stop that monster he refuses – letting billions die in the meantime – because he might create another monster? Totally makes sense. Also, there was the classic “I’ll never do _______” line that you know will be reversed in 5 minutes right as it’s uttered. “I’m not going to train you… ok, your training starts at Dawn.”
  2. The big chase. The fuel is running out. Holdo announces they’re going to remain on course. Poe, Finn, and Rose hatch a plot to introduce the worst section of the movie, a trip to a Monte Carlo-esque city to take a totally disconnected shot at alien horse racing and find the only man in the galaxy who can crack the First Order’s security codes so they can turn off hyperspace tracking and make a jump to some place where they won’t be found. This man is found, shown for 10 seconds, and then ignored. By pure luck, they end up in a jail cell with a guy who is apparently the other person in the galaxy with these skills. This ends up with them on the First Order flagship, fighting to the death with Phasma and her crew… and yet they never turn the tracker off. Meanwhile, Poe stages a mutiny against Holdo for preparing transports (life boats of sorts) to leave the ship that they’re trying to get into hyperspace. Leia stops him, and it’s revealed that Holdo’s plan all along was to get the ship close enough to a small base planet where the transports could escape to undetected. Yes, that’s right… everything that happened involving Finn, Rose, and Poe for the majority of the movie could have been ignored if Holdo had simply explained the plan. I repeat: LITERALLY TWENTY SECONDS OF EXPLANATION COULD HAVE CUT OUT 45 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE, INCLUDING THE WORST SUBPLOT. That large percentage of the movie could have been given to character development, backstory, explanation of Luke’s new understanding of the force… something. All they had to do was talk to each other. But that’s not all. As the transports try to get away, they’re picked off one by one. After over half of them are blown to smithereens, Holdo finally gets the idea to make a kamikaze flight through the Order’s fleet. Why did it take so long? If the point was to reduce the Resistance down to a handful of people, do it in a way that makes sense and isn’t just the result of stupidity.
  3. Crait. The great visuals of the white and red planet didn’t make up for the mind-numbing stupidity of what happened there. Locked up in the mountainside fortress with the First Order bearing down on them, the question is asked – is there a back way out? No. All options were explored. And they’re stuck. So, the resistance, down to about 30 people total, decides to send out almost half of their remaining force in rickety ships to try to stop the battering ram. Half of them die, so they decide to go ahead and let the battering ram win, so they can fall back to the soon-to-be-open fortress to die inside. Finn insists that he’ll make the sacrifice play to save his friends… only to be stopped by Rose. As she makes a weird profession of love, the door is blown open in the background. They and all of their friends are going to die, but at least she got to say she loved him (despite them knowing each other for less than a day). BUT WAIT! Remember how there wasn’t a back way out??? There is!
  • J.J. Abrams left us with major questions 2 years ago, which was his job. This movie disregarded those questions completely. Additionally, the trailers seemed to confirm Abrams’ intentions for this movie, and they were pushed aside just as quickly. Snoke is big and bad and mysterious and – oh, wow. He’s dead. How Kylo was corrupted was explained in an underdeveloped series of 3 clips, and the Knights of Ren apparently don’t exist anymore(?). Rather than focusing on the history of the force and Luke’s struggle with what it means to be a jedi, we got about 3 minutes of that and 30 minutes of the utterly useless Finn and Rose plot. And of course, Rey remains a person who just popped up. Other than containing the same characters, the two movies could not have felt more different.
  • Nobody has any backstory, which means nobody has any depth. As many have pointed out, not everybody has to be related in the Star Wars universe… but it’s hard to care about these people when they’re just… there. Snoke’s death was meaningless and his buildup as the “big bad” was useless as he was just a nobody who lasted a few minutes. Replace Phasma with a generic storm trooper and you don’t lose anything. Rose and her sister don’t mean anything to the viewer. Despite being the general of a movement that seems far stronger than the original trilogy’s empire, Hux is a pitiful joke. Holdo was as generic as could be. “DJ” was a total throwaway character created out of thin air to patch a plot together and then disposed of just as easily. Movies are driven by the strength of their characters, and that’s a big reason why this movie was so weak. Literally anybody could be killed off and it wouldn’t feel like a loss. The deaths of Han Solo and even Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon carried seriously weight. Snoke, Phasma, and Holdo were meaningless. Even if Finn had died… ok.
  • The original characters that fans care for so much are either gone or useless. Han Solo got half a movie and suffered a death that this movie almost made meaningless. Luke had a pretty strong one-movie revival, but now he’s gone too (outside of the seemingly inevitable force ghosting). Sadly, though Leia is still alive in the trilogy, Carrie Fisher’s passing removes her character as well. Chewbacca was reduced to cheap comic relief. Even the original droids were given about 30 seconds of spotlight. So you have major characters being pushed aside in favor of new lead characters that haven’t been developed in a way to give them importance or a strong connection with the audience.
  • What was the Rey mirror scene supposed to be?
  • Mind-melding Rey and Kylo was weird, but plausible. Luke (tangibly) transporting himself to the other side of the galaxy was a big stretch. Leia’s space walk was absolutely absurd, possibly the most ridiculous moment in Star Wars history. I know it’s been established that she’s force-sensitive. But come on. That was another comic book-y scene that just didn’t fit Star Wars. And despite being able to do that, she was suddenly helpless when it came time to move the boulders at the end. The way the force was deployed in this movie is exactly the same as what happens when fan fiction writers let their imaginations go wild as to how it can be used.

My final thought is that I truly pity J.J. Abrams. He used his “mystery box” technique to leave us all wanting answers after Episode VII, only to see that box thrown in the trash. Now he stares down the task of directing the final installment with literally nothing to work with. Unless Kylo was lying about Rey’s family (a possibility) or they decide to go back and explore Snoke’s rise to power and influence over Kylo (doubtful with Snoke out of the picture), the only thing left to show is the Rey-Kylo collision course that will lead to the inevitable final victory for the resistance. Maybe somebody dies, but who cares? We don’t know these people. That’s really the true shame of “The Last Jedi.” It didn’t just ruin its own potential. It destroyed the good groundwork laid in “The Force Awakens” and left nothing for Episode IX to explore. The entire new trilogy was decimated by Rian Johnson’s dedication to shocking, directionless plot twists.

My ranking thus far:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. A New Hope
  3. Rogue One
  4. Return of the Jedi
  5. The Force Awakens
  6. Revenge of the Sith
  7. The Phantom Menace
  8. Attack of the Clones
  9. The Last Jedi