Few weeks ago, I learnt a lesson about how a person’s reputation can easily be ruined without their knowledge. After attending the wedding ceremony of a dear friend, I came home to check my Facebook account to see whether I had a message. I did have a message but not the kind I was expecting. It went like this “I just want you to know your page has been hacked. I was tagged in some porn and I know it wasn’t you, who tagged me, so be careful.” This was a message from my high school mate.
In horror, I looked on my timeline and realized my account was sending out pornographic content to my contacts. I was mortified by the mere sight of the nasty pictures on my wall. Few days before I had seen similar images on a friend’s wall and reported it to face book; I realized that was how my account was also affected. It was a malware that just wouldn’t go away. Whilst I was out there supporting my friend at her wedding, my Facebook page was busily sending out porn.
I have about a thousand contacts on Facebook made up of family, close friends, old school mates, working colleagues, Sunday school teachers and students, friends of my sisters, fellow Christian bloggers, admirers and people I just accepted as friends. Being the private person that I am, it is only a few people out of the 1,000 friends on Facebook who really know me. So imagine these people tagged in pornographic content from my account! How could they vouch for me without really knowing me?
It was about 12am and I was changing passwords and doing everything possible to ensure that the problem was solved. I had not yet realized it was a malware as I continued changing passwords countless times. Anytime I changed my password, my account would just send out a new set of pornographic videos to my contacts. I knew if I did not quickly solve the problem, my reputation would be ruined. I wondered what the over 900 Facebook friends who did not know me too well would think. Would it be easy for them to believe that I wasn’t behind the images on their wall? What would they think of me?
As these questions run through my mind, I began to realize how I had quickly misjudged the gentleman who had sent the first pornographic image to my friend’s wall. Apparently, he had also been attacked by a malware and was not deliberately sending out the nasty images. But I had told my friend to unblock the gentleman for shamelessly posting the images on her wall. His reputation had been destroyed without his knowledge. I did not know him but I had made up my mind about him by virtue of the unfortunate circumstances he had not intentionally generated. In the same way, I know my reputation had been destroyed by someone who did not know me or understand the workings of computer spam.
The bible tells us in Proverbs chapter 22: 1 “a good name is better than riches and favour better than silver or gold. This verse serves as an encouragement to choose my reputation over money. But, “how can one protect his or her own reputation when they are unaware it is being destroyed in certain quarters? How do you defend yourself from falsehood when you do not even know what is being whispered at your back? When all evidence points to the fact that someone is indeed guilty when they may in fact be innocent, how can they be vindicated?
There is a popular saying that “Let them say, but let it not be true!” But what if the things people say are so damaging and worse of all what if people believe them? When I began reading the news on one of Ghana’s popular television station at a very young age, I was exposed to the world of reputation destroyers. Matilda; I heard you were dating a business tycoon. Tilly, I hear you left the television station after getting pregnant out of wedlock. I hear Matilda was dating a Married Doctor. Etc. These are just a few interesting things I heard about myself that shocked me.
They were untrue and I wondered about the motives of those who generated these lies and the rest who had time to spread them. Sometimes I wonder the things I am yet to hear and those that I will never be privy to or have the chance to refute. Previously, I would be sad when I heard something about me that was a total lie and a dent on my reputation. But one day whilst lamenting about some of the damaging things I had heard, my mum told me to prepare for more.
Her words were, “you will hear worse things and if you cannot take these little lies, then I wonder how you will react when the bigger lies surface.” That was all I needed to stop worrying unnecessarily about what someone said about me or worse still what someone thinks about me. People will continue to talk no matter how well behaved we are and as imperfect human beings, our flaws will also be discussed. An elderly woman once told me that when two people meet, it is unlikely that they would discuss a tree when human beings were passing by. A more interesting discussion would be about the passersby.
A good name is indeed better than riches; but unfortunately, innocent people have had their reputations destroyed by slanderers, gossips, plain liars and acts of carelessness. For example a newspaper may publish an untruth about a person or organization without the necessary checks only to realize it is false. A good reputation is destroyed causing emotional turmoil to the individual, organization and their loved ones. The story may be retracted and an apology written by the same newspaper. However, those who read the initial false report may never see the retraction or apology. For those people, that person or organization is just bad news.
With such happenings, should we be too concerned when our reputation is damaged out of no fault of ours? As followers of Jesus Christ, I believe we should be concerned about reputation but not obsess over it. This is because we cannot defend ourselves everywhere all the time. We can pray to God to vindicate us and use that unfortunate incident for his glory. If we get the chance to defend ourselves, we may choose to take the necessary steps to restore our damaged reputation and just move on with our lives.
In the case of the pornographic content I described above, I quickly sent out messages to apologize stating clearly that I was not the one who sent them. But I know it is not everyone who will see the message or even believe me. Do I keep on torturing myself by trying to convince everyone that I was not to blame for those nasty videos? No! Even Jesus Christ continues to have his fair share of reputation destruction despite the good works he did whilst here on earth.
If our savior Jesus Christ had been too concerned about reputation, do you think he would have dined with Zacchaeus the hated tax collector “Luke 19:1-10”? Would he have been in a private conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well “John 4: 1-26”? Do you think he would have taken the time to defend an adulterous woman “John 8: 1-11”? Would he have allowed a sinful woman to wet his feet with her tears“Matthew 26: 7”?
I believe His ministry would not have been successful had he obsessed over a good reputation. If you google Jesus’s history, you will come up with surprising information some very ridiculous. Some say he married Mary Magdalene and had children with her; yet still others rubbish His entire ministry. But with all the power he has, why does he not just wave his hands and make all those malicious lies disappear? Romans Chapter 3: 4 says “May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “that you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
In my opinion, for the truth to be made manifest, it must be placed alongside lies for discerning minds to choose what to believe. Sometimes even the most discerning minds may be confused, especially when the lies seem so truthful. However, if we are to succeed in discerning the truth, we must not be too quick to believe whatever we hear or see. It is said that seeing is believing; but I have come to realize it is not always wise to believe everything we see. For those of us whose reputation has been dented at some point in our lives, Let us encourage ourselves with the old saying; “Let them say but let it not be true!”