“I don’t use social media,” Dad said, “I like being happy.”
“Ugh, Dad!” I responded exasperated, “You just don’t get it!”
I was wrong. He got it perfectly.
That afternoon, I scrolled my Facebook news feed to read a friend’s location post.
That was it. A picture of a pin dropped on a spot in Portland and few words about going to see the once minister of a mega-church, now author of a few controversial books. But oh, man, did the replies to that post explode!
Some people were envious.
Some people were angry.
Some people had never heard of the speaker.
Some people claimed the speaker was a false prophet.
Some people sang the speaker’s praises.
I decided to add my 2 cents on my friend’s wall.
One reply posted directly to me. The message came across so condescendingly that I didn’t even think. I typed in my gut-reaction rebuttal as fast as my fingers could fly across the keyboard. (Mistake #1)
I made my case for my beliefs all right. But with no gentleness, only in harsh defense. (Mistake #2)
Remember, all of this took place on my friend’s wall. Even though his thoughts did not reflect mine, anyone reading his status may see my words and ascertain that our beliefs were the same. (Mistake #3)
Later I discussed the situation with my pastor. “Stop arguing on Facebook,” he said, “it’s not worth it.”
“But, but, but,” I stammered back, “I can’t handle closed minded opinions!” Not admitting that I can be just as closed minded as the guy with the opposite viewpoint.
“That person”, Pastor explained, “has a story that makes him feel this way. You have a story that makes you view things your way. We are not issues, we are people.”
My pastor speaks truth. There were plenty of controversial issues present in Jesus’ day. What did he do when he was confronted with a tough topic? He told a parable. He used his followers’ personal experiences. He took the argument out of the issue and dove into the heart matters of those around him.
Social media doesn’t help when one strives to live like Jesus. Without the face-to-face conversation it is too tempting to be cruel, to jump to anger, to argue with people you don’t even know.
Today is Good Friday. We remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us; crucifixion for our sins. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
He did not die for war. He died for peace. He sure as heck didn’t die so I could verbally clobber others on Facebook. He died because when I do slip into a passionate internet attack, I know I am loved by the One who matters.
Many who celebrate the Easter weekend focus by fasting from food Good Friday to Easter morning. This weekend, I will take a social media fast. No Facebook. No Twitter. No blogging or blog reading. This will be my time to focus on my Savior. I pray this will give me time to re-group and remember the true significance of Easter.
What do you think? Is social media the right venue to rant and argue? How do you manage to constructively reply to views that conflict with your own?
Have a blessed weekend.
He is risen, for you and for me.
Adela Crandell Durkee says
My experience with Twitter: Quick blurbs from single points of view, often poignant, cute, funny, or infuriating. Voice is all that matters.
My experience with Facebook and charged subjects: It is a place where people voice their views. It is not a place where people listen.
My experience with the blogs I follow: open, intelligent discussions which open my mind to others' points of view. I often disagree, but all parties are respectful. (I know there are snarky blogs out there, but when I started mine, I vowed that "snark" will not be part of my appeal.)
I am so happy you are featured on BlogHer.com, a great place to meet others' points of views. I blog at http://www.oncealittlegirl.com and http://www.theblacktortoise.com. Although I did not set out to be a faithblogger, faith is so much a part of my identity that I have many faithblogger fans.
This is interesting because the topic of the ranting and raving doesn't even have to be religious in order for this post to hit the nail on the head. I am concentrating on your final question and I think that the answer is yes and no. Just like blogging is an outlet, the rest of social media is as well. BUT…just because it is social media does not mean you should not think before typing. I try VERY hard to think to myself, 'would I say this to the person's face' before typing. Am I always successful? Nope. I think my success rate is about 90%. Rant and rave all you want…as long as you really feel you could do it in person. NOTE: ranting and raving might be construed as an adult type of toddler temper tantrum and we all know how attractive those can be. 😉 Something to think about.
"It is a place where people voice their views. It is not a place where people listen." Never have truer social media word been spoken. Excellent observation!
Andee Z says
Super analysis of the types of social media. It makes my head spin. At the end of the post I mentioned I took a social media "fast". One of the best things I've ever done. I need my brain to be quiet more often than I'm letting it. Now when I'm plugged in, I really try to take a breather and decide if my comment will be worth anything before I post.
Thanks so much for the comment!
Andee Z says
You are so right – no way does the arguing need to be religious (or even political) in nature. Just put out there something silly – like the "best book ever" – and you're sure to get some push back from someone.
And I agree about the adult temper tantrum. Of which I have been guilty of at times. (See Mistake #1) This particular incident has really caused me to stop and think before posting.
Thanks for the comment.
In some ways, I think your father is right. To not have to think about what happens on social medias could be a good thing. And the communication there tends to be a little more of everything. Jesus listen to people, and make a difference in life. Listening are not the social medias strength.
I just came across this article today so I'm sorry if I'm late to the party lol.
A few years ago, a friend of mine decided to message me on Facebook and call me a hateful person because of a group I had liked. I remember telling her that we all have different opinions. I even told her what your Pastor had told you. We are no longer friends but I'm not sad about it at all.
Sometimes with Facebook, it is usually best to not add everyone you know. Things get misconstrued.