Over the last year or so, I have become more discouraged about social media and what it is doing to us than I have ever been.
Often I think to myself, “The only reason I use social media any more is because it’s such an important part of my job.” Really, it’s central to my job.
Then, some weeks, what I see on social media encourages me and gives me hope for the medium as a useful tool for the church.
One of my friends recently left social media entirely. He deleted all of his accounts and isn’t going to engage on Twitter, Facebook, etc. any more. I kinda wish I could bring myself to do that, but every time I consider it, I can’t.
It’s not that I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have some sort of unhealthy addiction to it or because I need to be informed about what all of my friends are doing with their lives. (At least I don’t think that’s why.)
I think I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have a sort of strange burden for it as a medium.
Shining a Light in the Darkness
Social media can feel like a pretty godless place sometimes. Watching Christians gnaw on the necks of other Christians over everything from biblical sexual ethics to minute matters of church history is nauseating.
“Hot take” culture, in which we all feel the need to respond with our profound two cents on an issue before knowing all the facts, is, I believe, demonic.
There are times, like the times we’re in right now, during which I question if Christians have any place on Twitter or other such platforms.
Does the good of connecting with people across the world in order to share and discuss ideas outweigh the bad of harassment and rampant sinful communication?
It can be hard to tell.
I’m going to do more writing on this study soon, but according to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of adults have witnessed online harassment.
That’s not OK.
It’s not like it’s getting any better, either; younger people are more likely to witness harassment than older people. Part of this is due to younger people being more engaged online, but it is also likely due to younger people harassing more.
When I see statistic like this, I get discouraged and think Christians, myself included, would be wise to just disengage from social media entirely.
Why willingly participate in an environment in which such evil persists with no viable way to stop it?
We don’t have to be on social media, so why involve ourselves in such negativity if there is no need?
I ask myself these questions and then I remember:
I am compelled to participate in the nasty mess of social media because I have been commissioned as a steward of the only light bright enough to pierce its darkness.
Only the gospel can redeem the hateful poison that fills Twitter timelines and YouTube comment sections.
I believe, as a Christian and steward of the gospel, that I have I responsibility to maintain a presence on social media and do my best to reflect Christ on the various platforms in which I participate. I don’t always do this well, but this burden is what prevents me from deleting my accounts every time I consider doing so.
My life would be so much simpler if I forgot Twitter existed and packed up my Facebook profile once and for all. But I can’t bring myself to do it because I feel as though it would be motivated by cowardice, not by any sort of sanctified step of faith.