by William J. Stewart
Communication has changed drastically in my lifetime. When I was a kid, we had a rotary telephone attached to the wall. If you wanted to post a message, you needed an envelop and a stamp. Cords and landlines have been replaced by smartphones that do much more than make calls. Posting a letter in the mail is a rarity today. The mailman is a lot slower than e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. Communication has been drastically affected by technology.
There are some great benefits to social media. It affords the ability to reconnect with people whom we’ve lost contact. Being able to communicate instantly, we are able to pass news along to folks; good news, prayer requests, etc.. With this modern convenience, we can share encouraging words with folks whom we might not otherwise be in touch with. This age of instant communication is wonderful.
However, there are some things I have seen posted by Christians and some experiences I’ve had on social media that prompt me to write a word of warning to my brethren. Just as in the “real world,” we need to watch what we say and how we say it. We need to be careful about what we attach our name to. We need to display the character of Christ always.
Watch what you post! This shouldn’t need to be said, and yet sadly, it needs to
be said. Don’t post immodest images of yourself or others. Use language becoming a child of God. If someone who didn’t know you looked over your social media platforms, would they conclude you are a Christian or be shocked to find that out after the fact?
Before sharing something, take a moment to note the source of the original post. I’ve seen posts which were fine so far as their content, but it came from a source with bad language in the name. Do you really what the f-word or other crude language showing up on your Facebook page?
Before sharing something, make sure it is true. It used to be that fake news was obvious—it is not so any more. There are plenty of seemingly real news stories floating around that are not true. Before you repost a story, verify that it is true. Is it from a reputable source? Look for corroborating news stories. Don’t inadvertently post lies on Facebook. Doing so on a regular basis will harm your reputation.
Be kind. Sadly, the security of a computer screen causes some people to forsake tact and respect. I’ve seen some Christians treat others with such contempt and insolence that any reading their posts who did not know them would not think they were Christians. I am confident the same folks wouldn’t speak with such impudence face to face. Guard your attitude and speech online.
Choose your words carefully. When we communicate face to face, we have the advantage of seeing facial expressions, hearing tone of voice, etc.. None of this is available with social media or instant messaging. This increases the chance of being misunderstood. Do your best to be clear in what you are saying.
A word about unfriending & blocking. I’ve been blocked or unfriended several times on Facebook by the same individual(s). Sadly, it has been used as a way to avoid contact, to show displeasure with something I’ve said or to manipulate. If you are upset with a fellow Christian, work it out. Blocking and unfriends does not good, and frankly, it’s immature. If you are offended at something that has been said to you, let them know. If what was said to you was for your benefit, and you are still upset—perhaps you need to reassess your commitment to Christ.
There’s plenty more that could be said, but we’ll leave it there for now. Let’s be careful about our conduct online.