I’m sure we’ve all seen it happen, or even experienced it ourselves on social media. The rant, gossip, arguments and jabs in posts, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or even Twitter. Social media has become a faceless sounding board, from you and me, to political leaders and entertainers. It has made “going off” on someone or something so very easy, and so widely disseminated to the public, that it has quickly become a divisive tool in society. Let’s talk about the effects of that and what God’s words of wisdom are for the situations we may put ourselves in if we choose to participate.
Rants and arguments on social media can bring out the worst in people, and it’s not just the initial post. All it takes is for one person to start a slew of side-taking and back-stabbing to get some attention. The Bible is very clear about responding to social media situations. Just because we have the right to respond, and even to an opinion, it does not mean it is the wisest way to address the situation. Many times those who respond don’t have a basis to even be a part of the conversation, but want their name to show up on the comments of a post, and for how social media works, the more people who feed on that negativity, the more “popular” the post gets… right, wrong or indifferent.
God built us to live in community with each other, to build each other up, and not tear down. Yes, we can have differences of opinion, but does your opinion really matter to someone’s post who you do not know and would you never strike up a conversation over coffee to discuss the differences in your opinion civilly if you were forced to? What would happen if we were required to sit down with the people on a post in a roundtable and discuss a topic the way many posts are? I’m betting that out of 100 people who engage in a toxic post, that you wouldn’t get 5 to show up at the table to discuss it. Just because it’s easy to respond to a post, is it meaningful and worthy of a response?
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5 (NIV)
What these two verses are saying in Proverbs is that one should not be drawn down to someone’s level by responding, and secondly, sometimes it is wise to correct or discuss, but not in the same manner. God directs us to correct others gently as in Galatians…
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,
you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
That second part of the verse in The Message translation says “You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out”. Thus we always need to consider during a conversation “do unto others as you would want done unto you”…
“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you.
If he listens, you’ve made a friend. ” Matthew 18:15 (MSG)
Let’s go deeper… The first part of Matthew 18:15 says to work it out between the two of you, and not for the world to see. The second part reinforces that you may never see eye to eye. Remember, opinions are as unique as fingerprints. Everyone has one.
It doesn’t just have to be rants or arguments that can hurt. Seemingly harmless posts to the general public can harbor deep opinion/emotion to those who may be in the know on a topic or know the back story to the post. Just because you prettied up the post and threw a few accolades out there doesn’t mean it made the post positive and edifying. Women especially are talented in doing this. Consider the consequences and intent of what you are posting and who you may be slighting or throwing in front of the bus with small innuendos. Is it really worth making that small “harmless” jab to cut someone down, which can damage a friendship or even a relationship? What if it’s a co-worker or a boss, is it worth losing your job over?
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Romans 14:19 (ESV)
Shepherdess, please consider your use of social media in your life. Are you building others up, or tearing others down? Consider writing a draft of the post, and then stepping away for awhile and praying about your intent and purpose. You may find in the heat of the moment of writing it, may not be the best intentions, and you can just delete the draft with no harm done.
P.S. If you have children, please tend to them regarding their exposure to social media. Set solid guidelines and stick to them (don’t cave to peer or child pressure).