I have a love hate relationship with social media. It’s a great way to connect with people you aren’t physically close to, makes event planning quick and cheap, and stalking- uh, I mean, enjoying your friends pictures much easier but, like most things, it has a dark side (insert Death Star Music here). Aside from the obvious promotion of narcissism (really your whole page is kind of an alter to yourself, even if only a mini-version) it often serves as a platform for belief statements devoid of context said without enough thought or care for those viewing it.
Never was this more obvious than during the election last year. Or the Chick-fil-e uproar. Or pretty much anything involving politics ever. The problem wasn’t so much that people were exercising free speech, that’s a very good thing, the problem was the way in which it was (and almost always is) done. Blanket statements fueled by raw emotion and little explanation drew lines In the sand, dumped gasoline on flames, and created conflict that easily could have been avoided. They were the enemy, we were the heroes, their opinions were stupid if not evil, ours were logical and good…Pick a side any side, pick an issue any issue. Neither was innocent of countless logical fallacies and name calling, every side lobbed verbal bombs at the other behind the bunker of our computers (Hiding Behind the Bunker of Your Computer). Rather than having discussions based on a desire for real relational dialogue, it was war…and mostly a war against those we chose to forget were feeling, thinking human beings.
This can happen in face to face debates as easily as it can via Social Media, but I think the danger becomes more severe when you can hide behind a computer screen. It’s easier to forget that the person you are murdering with your words is one that God created in His own image (Genesis 1:27), knit together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), has written a story for. It’s easier to stick to a side than consider a relationship. It’s easier to cast the one you disagree with as the bad guy instead of a neighbor the Holy God of the Universe commands us to love (Matthew 22:36-40).
I’m guilty of this myself even though I don’t like to admit it. I blog because I love to write and having it be somewhat public keeps me disciplined but even long explanations lack the benefit of relational dialogue. Still, I hope as I write I can be sensitive to my audience, an encourager rather than one who condemns. So my encouragement today is that we would all be more careful about what we toss into the social media for everyone to see and that we would reserve certain discussions for face to face conversations with a desire to love on the other person rather than being right.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8