Social media is great; except when it’s not. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and all the new apps that have been developed since I wrote this article! They’re everywhere and we have access to them all the time. Computers, tablets, smart phones, smart watches. Sometimes we don’t use these smart devices very smartly.
What makes social media great is also what makes it horrible. These apps give us all an outlet to say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whoever we want, however we want. These digital spaces can be great sources of encouragement and information. However, they can also be spiritual and emotional wastelands devoid of any form of compassion or sympathy.
In a world that teaches us that we can’t be wrong, and our opinions are always right, how should we handle our social media responsibility? How about, responsibly?!?!?! Take a look at Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 18:2 “a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV). And Solomon didn’t even have Facebook or Snapchat! James says that we ought to be swift to HEAR, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). Seems like we ought to listen twice as much as we talk. This would include the things we say with our thumbs!
There used to be a phrase that went something like “keep your opinions to yourself.” That’s still good advice. It’s easy today to put your opinion out there for all the world to see. Or, heaven forbid, you place your opinion in the comments! When dealing with putting your thoughts/feelings/opinions out there, consider what Jeff Goldblum said in the first Jurassic Park, “they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they forgot to ask whether or not they should.” Sure, you can comment and post but should you?
You can hit send or post but sometimes you shouldn’t. Anything you say in a text message or online post could potentially be seen by anyone (and everyone). You hold in your hand the power to build up or tear down. Is what you’re posting and sending encouraging and spiritual, or downgrading and gossiping? Too many people are putting things online just to cause a stir and be sensational. They want to post this status, drop this comment, and share this meme, not because it’s funny or helpful, but because it’s hateful and hurtful. Bottom line, don’t troll. Would Jesus, James, Peter, or Paul intentionally antagonize someone? Nope, didn’t think so.
When you choose to post, keep it clean and keep it classy. Don’t open Instagram or Twitter to throw shade or get salty. We are supposed to be the light and salt, not to get salty and lit. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 to handle our issues with others face to face. Hiding behind your screen gives you digital courage. How about you check your comment, post, or text against Philippians 4:8. Is your post: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable or excellent? If it’s not, don’t hit that button.
You hold incredible power in your hand each time you pick up your device. You can share spiritual things just as easily as you can worldly. Use social media to stand up for Christ, your brothers and sisters in the Church and those who are downtrodden, gossiped about, and bullied. Every time you open an app you have the chance to follow Christ or Satan, to build someone up or tear them down, or to make or break someone’s day. Use this power wisely.
-Written for illuminate Teen eMagazine (March/2018)