Chances are you found this post through a link on a social media site or app. You found this post through a medium you could not conceive of fifteen years ago. The whole phenomenon has made connections, created new types of jobs, and sped up the transfer of information and ideas to unfathomable speeds.
We could discuss the outward ills assailing us as social media users, and many such discussions offer much to ponder. What comes into our eyes, hearts, and minds certainly needs controlling, and we should use discernment and discretion when deciding what to consume and what not to consume. Of course these things carry great importance. However, we often focus on what goes in to the complete exclusion of what might come out of us.
Social media gives every user the ability to self-publish as much as he or she wants and to do so across many, many platforms. One can say what he wants, when he wants to say it. We speak of the constant barrage of things coming into our eyes from our screens, but how often do we think of our own contribution to the verbal conflagration? What embers do we ourselves stoke into flames with our words?
Social media provides a forum to comment on everything in front of everyone. Before I deleted my Facebook account, I saw way too many photos of what seemed to be a fun occasion with people battling out some sort of political point in the comments. You log on to see cute pictures of your friend’s kid (or because you compulsively do so), and your high school geometry teacher is launching a verbal assault your friend’s uncle over economic theory. I joined a few of these digital verbal frays myself, and the temptation to jump into what amounts to social media bar fights led to my decision to leave.
What does our social media outrage say about us as disciples of Jesus?
I’d love to say the problem exists only among young people, but from what I saw, the Social Media Outrage Train carried riders of all ages.
Does the use of a digital platform to constantly find things to outrage us befit men and women who cling to the cross?
If all things become outrageous, nothing is.
Consider these words:
Proverbs 10:19- When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
Proverbs 17:27- He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Proverbs 29:20- Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
Keep in mind each one of these proverbs needed recording because many, many things provoke us to quick speech. The wise man or woman proves the one who maintains the ability to remain calm, collected, and silent while others spout off every thought entering their minds. Silence or tempered words in the face of provocation prove the wisdom of the one provoked.
When we daily feel the need to offer commentary on a political or social matter on Facebook, arguing with those we do not actually know, do we abide by the Proverbs? Do we log onto Facebook or Twitter ready to object to something? Does the preparedness to be outraged say something about our contentedness in Christ?
It seems to me social media transmits three things: silly jokes good for a quick laugh, links to other things, and negativity. The best tweets I see link me to informative articles or let me chuckle for a moment. Most of the tweets I see (and what I saw on Facebook) consist of gripes or scolding. We are the people of the good news; we are the redeemed. Surely we have something better to do than contribute to the flotsam and jetsam of the so-called news stream on social media. Laugh at the fun little jokes and digest the interesting offerings. Abstain from the outrage. The world may burn, but the kingdom of heaven does not. Let’s live and conduct ourselves in line with confidence in such things.