Is kindness about to be added to the endangered species list? Has love exited the building like Elvis at a Vegas show? The whole entire world is reeling and desperately trying to get some semblance of a grip on the hot topics of discussion today. But my good gravy, the negativity abounds in off the chart extremes, leaving most of us sick to our stomachs.
What is the deal? Why are we so worked up? Why are people turning on each other faster than mold on bread? Good, gracious, Lord, why are Christians attacking fellow Christians in the name of truth and righteousness? Have we all gone out of our minds?
Before you jump ship and abandon social media altogether, as many of my friends have, please allow me to encourage you. Engage with me. I promise to not yell, condemn, or judge you. Who knows, you might walk away from this quick read feeling uplifted and renewed with hope. At the very least you can forward this to your pig-headed uncle who could remember a few things the bible says…I’m just kidding.
Do we need to kiss Facebook goodbye?
Seriously though, most of us want to keep interacting with people on Facebook. We enjoy seeing friends no longer near, but still very dear. We want to laugh at one more puppy barking at his reflection or one more kid falling asleep with food in their mouth. Laughter is good medicine, right? Even the bible says that.
What really has us all bound up and stuck on the internet web like a black widow’s dinner treat is our lack of kindness and love towards each other. I’m sure if I am pointing fingers, some would be pointing back at me. None of us want to get sucked up in another blaming game either, so the real question is, what do we do about it? What can you and I do to turn things around?
Instead of deleting your Instagram account, and swearing to never scroll through another social feed again, let’s talk about how to navigate the internet in these volatile times. Because seriously, what would life be without one more great coffee meme or foodie pic? Barbaric at best. Here are some practical tips and thoughts to remember while using social media.
Be honest, but kind
“Oh what a wicked web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.” ~ Sir Walter Scott
When Sir Scott penned this now famous quote that many mistake for Shakespeare, (including me until I looked it up) he wasn’t talking about the world wide web. Although, he certainly could of. Lying does run rampant on this internet web we tangled ourselves up in. The internet is full of lies to sell and get people to do all sorts of things. As Christians, the goal is always to live authentically and truthfully.
Yet so often people seem to uphold the admiration of truth above the love for their neighbor. Sometimes it seems as though Christians discussing differing opinions with other Christians can be the absolute worst at showing love to each other. We all want the content we view and the opinions people share to be authentic and truthful. The challenge is sharing the point of views with honesty and kindness.
Hold onto Love
Jesus encouraged us to love everyone, but especially those following Him too.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. ~ John 13:35 nlt
Whether you think the Shack is theologically sound and every Christian should read it and see the movie or you’re worried to death it will usher in the anti-christ and Armageddon, those opinions do not need to be shared on your Facebook feed in a way that condemns other Christian who disagree with your passionate position.
We can all get caught up in a moment. It’s easy to read or watch something that triggers a response. Sometimes those feelings are justly felt towards unjust experiences. We see a wrong done to someone going unpunished or an outlandish accusation or opinion that appears unmerited, and we want to chime in.
But doing so while forsaking love is never an option in God’s kingdom. Otherwise, we just add to all the terrible noise and promote a different kind of injustice by giving an experience void of love. If love is our truest goal, then our words and actions need to show that. Our interactions no matter what the social setting need to be done respectfully and with kindness.
Remember, we all need grace sometimes
Even the disciples reacted in heated moments. Peter lobbed off a poor fellows ear when he threatened to arrest Jesus (see Matt 26:54). Although Peter was right to recognize Jesus’ innocence, he was not right in lashing out. Most of us would never cut off someone’s ear to prove our point, but even Jesus told us our words can be sharper than a sword (see Proverbs 12:18). We must be careful to refrain from cutting our listener’s ears off with our sharp and insensitive words, truthful or not.
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. ~ Ephesians 4:29 nlt
We all can get sucked into the swirl of a drama filled situation. There are plenty more examples of this in the bible, but I am sure each of us can think of a time or two in our own stories where conflict got the best of us. We all receive God’s forgiveness when we ask. If God can forgive us, we certainly can forgive others too.
Just as we appreciate people forgiving our hasty reactions, we can extend some grace to others who didn’t use wisdom when navigating through social media. We all are capable of knee jerk reactions gone wrong. We can all give grace to those who made a quick and regrettable decision to fly off the handle in a comment thread.
Pause before you post
How you express your thoughts, where you do that, and to whom is between you and God. Just make sure you talk to Him before your little fingers start flying over the keyboard and hit post. I will guarantee, the answer God gives you for who, when, and where will drip with His love as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 explains.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 niv
By applying the perimeters of God’s own description of love, we can easily begin to check our motives and responses to social media feeds and posts. Take a moment to ask yourself some questions before posting or commenting.
Questions to ask yourself…
- What is the motive for why I want to share or comment?
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- Do I have enough relationship with the people who will see my post or comment to engage in healthy and positive communication?
- How would I feel if someone said this comment to me?
- Is the content or comment kind and honoring?
- Is the post self-serving or bringing up a wrong previously forgiven?
- Does it celebrate someone else’s downfall or misfortune?
- Does it establish greater trust or value trustworthiness?
- Will it leave the reader feeling hopeful or discouraged?
- Am I responding out of anger or frustration?
If the answer to any of these questions is negative in any way, perhaps consider not posting or commenting. Sometimes all we need is to take a deep breath. Waiting a moment to decide if in fact posting is the best option can avoid future regrets.
Post and comment away
Social media doesn’t have to be a landmine we terrifyingly attempt to walk through. Upholding kindness, love, and encouragement starts with you and your feed. You influence and make impact by the things you choose to view and interact with, so be encouraging to others with your shares. Promote content that celebrates positivity and kindness.
Here’s to maintaining your daily dose of cats tripping over their tails videos, if that is something you enjoy. But next time you come across your cousin’s, sisters, friends, political post you vehemently disagree with, just remember to breathe, extend some grace, and display love no matter how badly you feel the urge to cyber punch them into next week.
As always, I would love to hear more about your personal story. Feel free to share your thoughts below. How has a lack of kindness on the internet impacted you personally? What tips do you use to keep your comments and shares on social media positive and encouraging?