I hinted at this in my last post but I’d like to weigh in with a social media word about social media words. All social media are on fire about political issues in America right now. Just last week I was talking with a pastor friend of mine and we were amazed at the level of bitterness, rage and stereotyping we’ve seen coming out of Christians we know on social media. I thank God this has not yet been the case at our church, but he admitted to me that he had to have to private conversations with his own staff members about what they were posting online. I won’t get into details, but in general one staff member was somewhere in the conservative stream and made their views known in quite colorful ways on their social networks. Another staff member was somewhere in the more liberal stream and also made their views known in quite colorful ways. They both had been reading each others posts, and then finding themselves have a difficult time working with each other in their church! This is ridiculous. Thankfully my friend is a good pastor, and his team heard what he had to say and did the work of reconciling. But my friend’s story reminds us that we all need to think about what we are posting online right now.
Allow me to share some simple thoughts on social media for those of us who love Jesus, and are using social media at this incendiary time. First, what we post is not private. So many of us post stuff online as if it were this safe little place -like a diary- for us to express our rawest version of ourselves. Perhaps it’s because the more raw, the more likes we get. Something to think about. Whatever the case, what we post has the potential of being viewed on the world-wide-web (please repeat those last three words). Second, what we post is online will be there permanently. Sure, the techies who read this blog will tell me there’s ways to block your feed and probably even some way to remove your existence online – but essentially what we post is permanent. Third, especially for those of us who serve Jesus, we have been asked by our Lord and Savior to use our words in such a way that they edify and build others up rather than tear them down. This means we’d be doing well if we all used the Thumper school of communication – “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!”. Finally, there is little substantive discussion taking place about our country online. There are many “I’m-rubber-you’re-glue” kinds of diatribes, but not meaningful conversations. If we want to have a conversation where we might be heard, and where we might learn something by listening to the other person, then we need to have an actual chat and not be a troll hiding behind our social media account.
Here’s why I care in my little corner of the American wilderness. I am privileged to serve as a pastor of a local church body that I love dearly. The current content in social media runs the risk, in the near future, of dividing people in my church simply because they forgot to be thoughtful and kind and turned their position, and the positions of others, into monolithic caricatures. Please, let’s all be thoughtful about: A) even choosing to post an opinion online right now, B) if we choose to post, do the hard work of saying something that lends itself toward healing and unifying, and C) simply choosing to take our disagreements and concerns, and invest our emotional energy into prayers for our leaders and our country rather than unnecessary opinions online. Amen?