I’d like to just start by stating a simple fact: I enjoy social media. I really do. So when I start ranting here in a few minutes, just keep in mind that I check Facebook often, I tweet regularly, and my Instagram is updated frequently.
That being said, I do have some problems with social media: it makes it too easy for us to hide. The culture of social media has given us an easy out, an escape from real life.
For example: I was in the school library the other day when I overheard some students cursing and calling each other “sluts,” along with various other insults (delivered jokingly, but still disrespectfully). In my conservative, private, Christian college with Christian classmates, this is pretty much not at all what I expected to overhear in the library. I felt oddly called to do something, like maybe let them know that their speech was not glorifying God, or let a librarian know that there were students causing a scene in the back. But then I also felt called to just ignore them. I thought about it for a while, and I sat trying to drown out their conversation. Then I made a decision – a decision that, in retrospect, I realize was definitely the wrong decision. I posted a status update on Facebook. This was, well, stupid. I sat and typed, something to the tune of, “Students cussing up a storm in the library. Not sure how to handle this.” And when I hit send, I had done my part. I didn’t have to confront the students, or tattle to a librarian, but I also didn’t just ignore the situation. In my mind, I had done something about it.
Except the something I had done was cowardly. I took the shortcut. It was irresponsible and immature. The mature response is to confront a fellow Christian when they make a mistake, and to do so lovingly, carefully, and in private. The mature response is not to “subtweet” about it and just hope something is done. The mature response is not to post a status update and pass off the responsibility to anyone who may read the post. The mature response is to follow the guides of Pastor Doug from the latest sermon series, and to practice “active listening,” like Ray Ramano in “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
What are we doing?
You know that time when you were really down in the dumps about something, so you posted a very vague, nondescript status or tweet? It’s ok, you can admit it. We’ve all done it. Now think about it: why did you post in that way? Why did you write something vague instead of just stating your problems?
When that guy broke up with you, did you tweet, “oh, my poor broken heart,” or did you tweet, “Just got dumped. Feeling sad. Prayers, please.” I’m guessing you picked the first one. I mean, that’s what I did.
And when someone insulted you via text message, did you post, “yah, well you’re stupid, too,” or did you confront that person directly about their insult? I’m betting you picked the first one. I did, too.
So what’s wrong with that?
When we post something like, “oh my poor broken heart,” we’re being passive aggressive. We’re manipulating people into asking us what’s wrong. And when we post something vague instead of confronting the problem, we’re being too cowardly to take care of ourselves. Facebook and Twitter are great, but not when we use them the wrong way. We need to stand up for ourselves! We need to face a challenge head on, not just tweet about it and hope it goes away.
Subtweeting is never the way to go. I know this is easier said than done, but it’s so true. As Christians, we are called to only speak when our speech will build each other up (and in today’s culture, speech includes Facebook posts and tweets). We are called to turn the other cheek. We are not, however, call to be passive aggressive and immature.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I should never have posted that message on Facebook about the people in the library. A passive aggressive post doesn’t glorify God, and it definitely doesn’t show my classmates how to live for Christ. Let’s stop subtweeting. Let’s stop hiding behind status updates. Let’s stop being the flawed humans that we are. Let’s instead glorify God in all that we do, from our words, both written and spoken, to our actions, and everything in between. We’re never gonna fix anything with vague Facebook posts. So let’s stop wasting our breath! We’re only given so much time on this earth, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste any of that time doing anything not in God’s plan for me.
I’m going to confront someone humbly and lovingly when they’re making a mistake. I’m going to ask for help upfront instead of posting a passive aggressive status. I’m going to try harder to be all that God created me to be. I’m going to stop hiding behind status updates.