I confess to being a little conflicted about social media these days. (Social media – you know…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on). They are a lot of fun, but can also eat up a lot of time. It’s been sold to us as a way to connect with others and build better relationships. That sounds good to me – what could possibly go wrong? Turns out people can be as nasty online as they are in person. I’m finding I don’t really want to hang around these places when people get so rude.
I don’t mind sharing life events and pictures of activities. It’s great to see my friend’s kids growing up and to keep in touch. But when someone talks of politics – watch out! And that doesn’t even compare to when you raise a point about religion.
This morning, I saw a funny meme on Facebook. It said, “How to start a fight on Facebook: #1 – State an opinion. #2 – Wait.” I thought it was humorous because it just seems that no matter what anyone says, someone will challenge it. In and of itself, this isn’t a problem – it’s usually the tone and nastiness that gets to me. Things escalate to ‘rude’ very quickly. What happens to gracious manners and being polite when we get on the internet?
The Apostle Paul certainly didn’t know anything about the internet or social media, but he did offer a lot of counsel on relationships and dealing with people. His advice: “Remind them of these things and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers…avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness and their talk will spread like gangrene.” (2 Timothy 2:14,16,17a)
Now I’m not one of those radicals who thinks we should withdraw totally from social media. Paul’s words simply remind me that whether in person or online, I want to be positive and uplifting with my words. I don’t need to get all tangled up in “irreverent babble” and I certainly want to avoid gangrene. It’s just a good reminder to think before we speak (or type) and, for the health of our spiritual life, maybe some conversations are best avoided.