One of the strange phenomena of this generation is the rise of social media.
If a celebrity eats a hamburger, we need infinite updates on how it tasted and went down.
Social media has also led to a refreshing amount of social accountability; but, it’s also led to an era of cyber bullying and hyper-critique. In many ways, the world is reeling under its newfound power.
And that’s exactly why Christians need to develop a more sophisticated theology of social media.
And I’m the first person to admit I’ve made mistakes. I have more platforms to voice my opinion than ever before—from blogs, to Twitter, to Facebook—not to mention millions of other websites begging for my feedback.
Recently, I tweeted a joke that was questionable. When I saw it show up on my timeline a few hours later, I was immediately struck with a convicting question from the Holy Spirit: “Did that really represent me well?”
The truth was: I was an idiot. Ephesians 4:29 bids me to “say only what is helpful for building others up.”
So after deleting the post with regret, I was reminded of Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” And when you think about the scary amount of words we post each day, it really makes me pause.
For guys like me who make a living by sharing my thoughts, this is a scary truth. And it doesn’t exactly help that I like to mix edgy comedy with ministry. People naturally give comedians a bit more leeway than pastors—so many Christians don’t know what to do with me. (“Do I write him a letter? Or do I laugh?”) And when we live in an era of hyper-accountability and critique, it’s becoming a painful time to be a leader in any arena.
But it’s also true I’m a total idiot on a lot of subjects. And as a good friend, I lovingly remind you that YOU are too! (And if we were face-to-face, I’d be giving you a big sympathetic look right now while breathing in deeply through wide nostrils.)
You see, social media is constantly tempting us to extrovert our inner opinions. However, we fail to realize, just because we can comment/tweet/post/blog, doesn’t mean we should. Some of us have an acute case of verbal diarrhea that afflicts us every time we see a mobile phone or computer.
But keep in mind: If you’re a Christian, you don’t have the right to simply share whatever you want anymore; after all, “You are not your own. You were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are now ambassadors of Christ (Gal. 2:20). And when we surrender our lives to Christ, every little tweet surrenders, too! Or I could put it this way: It’s time to let your Facebook page get saved.
Besides, there’s nothing worse than watching a bunch of people puke 38 political comments down a Facebook post (as if they’re actually influencing each other or exemplifying the God of joy and peace).
Don’t get me wrong: It’s totally OK to have strong opinions about politics and theology. But allow me to raise the bar when it comes to social media by giving four suggestions.
To put this another way: Think of these Bible-inspired suggestions as Imodium AD for our verbal diarrhea. (And I learned these after having many accidents : ))
Tip # (1). Avoid Confrontations Through Writing:
As a general rule, I encourage people to avoid communicating on emotional topics through writing. Don’t get me wrong: It’s OK to journal your thoughts for the purpose of clarity. But very few of us are good enough to confront through writing. And here’s why:
Scholars say that 64-92% of all communication is non-verbal. It’s vocal tones, eyebrows and body language that speak volumes. When you’re looking a person in the face, it often changes the way we talk. It gives us instant feedback to know if our message is too hard or soft. It also helps people see the love that is driving our confrontation. And if love isn’t your motive … then you probably shouldn’t be saying anything. (Once again: sympathetic look/flared nostrils.)
In my experience, written critiques are usually interpreted in the most hostile way imaginable. And although you didn’t use LARGE CAPS to make your point, most people will tend to read critiques as though you did.