The Sting of Social Media

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On an average day, 81 percent of Americans will use perhaps one of the most powerful instruments in modern day life: social media.

Most everyone I know at least has one social media profile, with the majority of my friends, family members and acquaintances utilizing more than one social media platform. I have five platforms I regularly use.

I get on social media when I am bored. I get on social media to read the news. I get on social media to stay up with current events. I get on social media to stay updated on everyone’s lives.

Social media in itself is not ‘bad.’ I follow several positive, faith-based accounts to help encourage me daily, I enjoy sharing optimistic articles or tweets and I love seeing my friends and family post happy memories.

However, in this particular time we are in, especially within the past five or so years, social media has become a force of hurt and harm.

Social media gives users the ability to say things they would never say in person. Behind a screen, courage is easy to come by.

Someone has a different political view than you? Bash them on their status so all their friends and followers can see.

You disagree with someone on his or her latest tweet? Better tweet them back a response to let them know they are wrong.

A friend stabs you in the back or your boyfriend/girlfriend breaks your heart? Guess you should ‘subtweet’ about them. Eye for an eye, right?

I wonder what Jesus would say about social media.

So many opportunities to do right. So many opportunities to do wrong. Unfortunately, I feel as though I personally see more of the latter.

Just because you disagree with someone’s tweet, picture or status does not mean you should make a snarky comment back or say a hurtful remark. In fact, just because someone’s opinion is different does not mean you have to share yours.

Just because you had a horrible day or just got dumped does not mean you have to go complaining all over social media about it.

If you have a disagreement with someone, or want to talk to them about something they posted, here is a thought: talk to them in person.

The best way to solve problems with other individuals is not through a screen. Relationships are still best managed face to face.

At the end of the day, we will all have different opinions about different topics, even as Christians. There is no ‘right’ political affiliation with the Christian faith. Democrats can be Christians. Republicans can be Christians. Libertarians can be Christians.

So how are we to use social media well?

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or your followers’ shoes. Ask yourself before you post: Would I want to see someone else post this? How does this make me look? Could this hurt or offend anyone? Why am I posting this?

If you are commenting or responding to someone else’s post, ask yourself: Would I want someone to say this back to me? Could this hurt this person? How does this reflect on me?

Or simply remember, if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all.

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