Wednesday, 1 February 2017

World Wide Web: Platform or Tower of Babel, by Merrilyn Williams

As an author, do you love social media or loathe it? Is the World Wide Web a mine of useful information? Or a time-waster? A wonderful means of communication? Or an unexploded bomb?


When I began working as Copyright Manager for Jubilate Hymns back in 1998, I was provided with a computer – and a fax machine! It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? But when the BBC used Jubilate hymns and music on Songs of Praise, or other programmes, they had to fax the details through to me in order to obtain a copyright licence.

Not long after that, Richard Bewes, then Rector at All Souls, Langham Place, rang me in the office to register a hymn he’d been asked to write to celebrate the advent of the internet. We had a delightful conversation about the pros and cons. Then I said:

‘What worries me is that it could prove to be a Tower of Babel.’

Prophetic? Or what?


Quite apart from the bullying, grooming, death threats and hacking that goes on (which, in the future, could quite literally prove to detonate a bomb) I perceive, post-internet, a different world to the one in which I grew up. Respect for authority has, largely, gone out of the window. Google is god. And so, it would seem, am I!

Through the World Wide Web I may be omniscient. And omnipresent. Through the World Wide Web, I have all the wisdom I require. Who says my doctor is right in his prognosis? Through the World Wide Web I know better. Why should I trust politicians when they advocate certain action? Through the World WideWeb, I know them to be wrong.

Best of all, through the World Wide Web, I can not only know all things, I can tell others. Worldwide! I will become their wisdom. And they mine. I am everywhere. Forever. Nothing I say can ever be obliterated, unless I decide it should be so. Or – is that Google that decides? Whatever. I am all-knowing. I am everywhere. Why, therefore, would I need God? I am who I am.


We read in Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. Is that not what’s been happening on the internet? Have we not built ourselves a tower that reaches to the heavens V4? Does making a name for ourselves imply, perhaps, that we believe ourselves to be invincible?

Back in the 1980s when I started being published, publishing houses were the gateway to an author’s voice being heard, and magazines and books – if you were lucky enough to secure a contract – the only means by which you might do so. Even then, most of the articles I wrote were in the how-to genre, dealing with debt, divorce, drugs and death. Opinion was rarely, if ever, an option unless you were a well-known figure in society.

How that has changed! Social media, blogs, websites, e-zines and self-publishing have resulted in a free-for-all. Which, on the face of it, might be no bad thing. Except that without the censorship of a gateway, it can be become divisive. And very negative!

I’ve been accused of being ‘one of those people who were responsible for racism in the UK’. Why? Simply because I admitted to having voted to leave the EU. I know of others – lovely, Son-filled, fun-filled believers in America, who have been on the receiving end of similar slurs.

So, I ask again, how do you view the World Wide Web? Did it start well, with good intentions, many of which have been fulfilled? Were we enabled to speak the same language v6? Or at least, to have a platform from which to make our voice heard? Has the internet built bridges among the nations and people it serves?

Or has it become the means of trumpeting divisive opinions in all languages around the world? Am I one of those who uses it thus? And if so, is it now in danger of inciting the Lord’s concern? Is it his belief that nothing that (we) plan to do will be impossible? Are we in danger of being scattered? Perhaps, even, in the process of being scattered?


If so, then shouldn’t we be speaking love? Compassion? Peace? Joy? And justice? Should we be laying down the weapons of opinion that divide us, refusing to share bad news? Might we, instead, be better standing as one, in unity with Christ, with the belt of truth fastened around us; our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, and take up the shield of faith, with which (we) may extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one? Ephesians 6:14-16 paraphrased. Might we then be a better witness to non-believers and thus be extending the borders of God’s kingdom?

About the Author 

Merrilyn Williams, is a multi-published author, with commissions from Hodder & Stoughton, one of which became a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller.  Now writing fiction under her maiden name, Mel Menzies, her latest novel, Chosen? which follows Time to Shine in the Evie Adams’ series, is a gentle psychological mystery with a message.  Set in Exeter and Dartmouth, the mystery is solved not by police procedures but by counselling practices.  Published by Malcolm Down Publishing, Merrilyn’s books are available from Waterstones, Amazon or her website,
Merrilyn is an inspirational speaker; has led writers’ workshops at The Hayes, Swanwick and elsewhere; and is sometimes asked to take part on BBC broadcasts on a wide range of topics, such as stepfamilies; drugs; godparents; and bereavement.  She blogs regularly on creative writing, speaking and relationships.  Her website, An Author’s Look at Life, provides Resources to Inform, Inspire & Encourage.
Chat with her on: Twitter:
author, book, books, Mel Menzies, Merrilyn Williams, mystery, time to shine, tower of babel, world wide web


  1. I too voted to leave the EU but have kept quiet about it!

  2. Thanks for the share, Mel. Good thought provoking stuff. I think we are seeing some of the signs of end times now and I'm sure this one-world approach through the Internet will contribute.

  3. May we never forget the power of our words - whether broadcast over the Internet or muttered at home. May that power be used for good in our uncertain world.