The Social Responsibility of Social Media

DramaMINE - YouTube - Google Chrome 19-Jul-16 184550

Anti-Drama Pill

Last year I wrote a post called Social Evils Celebrated in Social Media.  In the year since then things have only worsened.  Perhaps this is in part because of it being a presidential election year in the US.  Or maybe it’s an acceleration of the decay of society.  I suspect that it’s a little of both.  It seems that narcissism has increased to the point where people will do almost anything for a little time on the virtual world stage.

But what’s the use of howling against practically all of society?  What really concerns me is the irresponsible way that some Christians have been posting these days.  I’m not just talking about those annoying political posts, full of outrage and their own gullibility—as if their candidate is God’s man of the hour, no matter how hedonistic his personal life is.  In fact, he may be God’s man of the hour.  But in any case, Jesus wasn’t political because you can’t solve spiritual problems through political means.  Let’s face it, America’s problems, the world’s problems are spiritual, and things are not going to get better until the day that Jesus comes back to reign over the earth as the King of Kings.

The posts that have me concerned are videos and news stories that fan the flames of racial or religious hatred, fear, and intolerance.  I found that I could no longer stay silent when I kept seeing a Christian posting these kinds of posts, finally posting a video of a black man cursing at police[1].  I contacted the poster by private message.  Here is our exchange:

Me:  Why did you post this?  Surely you don’t think this helps race relations.  Surely you don’t like the language or sentiment.  I’m not saying that I’m against the police.  Not at all.  But we need to stir each other to love and good works.  I don’t think this does that.  Do you?

Can you think of a more positive approach to supporting law enforcement?

Poster:  Showing both sides.  Truth.

Me:  Is this encouraging?

Is this edifying (does it build people up)?

Is this inspired? / Is it inspiring?

Does this stir up good feelings?

“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24).

Poster:  People need to be informed.  Not to stir up.  Not to pick out one thing, like some would pick out of the Bible to suit their purposes, and leave out others.  Several verses have been taken out of the Bible, such a shame.

Me:  [Was this last bit a slam at me?  I chose to overlook it.]  Look at some of the angry responses you’ve gotten on your posts lately.  [I gave a specific example of another inflammatory post.]  Is this bringing people closer to Jesus?

Poster:  Apparently you are living in a dream world.  Being tolerant and conditioned over several hundred years has gotten us this far.  [The poster then launched into a personal attack, which I will spare you.]

Me:  You’ve made a whole lot of assumptions about me just because I have pointed out a problem with your recent posts.  And you still haven’t answered my question: is this bringing people closer to Jesus?

Poster:  [Launched into a whole new attack on me, personally, which I will spare you.]

Me:  OK, you want to inform, I can respect that.  But is this information helping people find their way to Jesus?  I went back and looked at all the comments on both those posts, and I don’t see anything besides anger.

I will leave you alone if you want, but I just think we really need to be focused now that the end is so near.

Poster:  [More personal attacks.]  Don’t go by a few articles.  Don’t be fooled by being naïve. . . .

I suggest you pray for peace and pray for people to be able to discern the truth.  [A final personal attack.]  You’re not going to change my mind, because I’ve been there, where you are.  Going back and forth with me is not helping yourself or others.

Me:  I agree, going back and forth is not helping.  Thank you for being open to a dialogue with me on the subject.  [At least the poster hadn’t unfriended me from the start, as some have.]  God bless you!

Poster:  Thanks.

And since this is my blog, I get the last word on the subject.  So here goes:

Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” (Matthew 5:9, NIV).  Do peacemakers sometimes lose their life for the cause of peace?  Yes.  Just ask Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Would the world be a better place without peacemakers?  Absolutely not.

Contrast knowledge (your desire to inform others) with wisdom: “Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom,” (James 3:13, NIV).  I don’t see humility or wisdom in posting these things.  Instead, what I see is a desire to get a lot of comments, maybe to go viral.  “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up,” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

These kinds of posts are the Facebook equivalent to an appearance on Jerry Springer.  Some people thrive on creating drama all around them (perhaps, Poster, you are one of them).  We can’t afford to create or incite drama.  Drama turns deadly so quickly these days.

Finally, you claim to have a desire to inform people.  I don’t know who needs to watch a video of the police being cursed at.  Was I surprised that people curse at the police?  Not at all!  In fact, I can even tell you why he filmed himself doing it: he was hoping to evoke a violent or deadly response from the police officers, and get it all on film.  Bravo to them for not rising to the bait.  More than ever before, it takes courage to put that uniform on and go out into an ever-more hostile world.  They do it each day, knowing that this could be their last.  That is courage and heroism at its finest.

But let’s investigate this desire of yours to inform.  Who else sought to inform?  The defeated enemy, that’s who.  When he tempted Eve in the Garden, he could have rightly claimed: “I just wanted them to know that they’re naked.”

And when was the last time you informed someone that Jesus had paid the price for their sins?  If you really want to inform people about something important, there’s nothing more important than that.

The majority of my friends on Facebook are people that I actually know.  Sometimes I accept a friendship request from the friend of a friend.  Poster is a friend of a friend who I might have met at one point.  I honestly don’t remember.  The majority of my friends post things like prayer requests, media stories that we should all know about and be praying about, or thoughts and quotes that encourage others.  We also post silly stuff that’s all in fun.  But mostly we post the other things that encourage each other.  If Jesus had said it today, He might have put it this way: “out of the abundance of the heart the person posts to their page,” (Matthew 12:34, NKJV, paraphrasing and emphasis mine).

Let’s use social media to encourage each other and to pray for each other.  And let’s stay focused on the really important things: sharing Jesus with a lost and dying world.  God is good!

[1] I am not going to post a link to the video because I found absolutely nothing in it that was worth wasting half a minute of your precious life on.  It’s just a man hollering f-you over and over again at a group of police officers that are just standing around, talking.  He takes particular unction at the black officer and at the female officer.  It is revolting, in my personal opinion.

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