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Social Media: Tearing Down Or Building Up?

There’s a growing trend to say anything about anybody, however nasty it is. While this sort of thing isn’t completely new, it has reached a fever pitch. Social media makes it easier to do. It also makes it worse, because what is sent online travels quickly and widely.

Some hide behind the vast Internet. Some even think they can do it anonymously, but that’s rarely true. Rants are encouraged, even though the ranters have little knowledge of the facts they’re ranting about. They’ve seen something tawdry on the Internet, so it’s repeated. Would we rant viciously to someone else face to face?

There are, of course, times when it’s necessary to clear the air with another person. Little progress will be made, however, if we try to do this in an email exchange. It’s best to look each other in the eye and state a grievance firmly and respectfully. It’s surprising how quickly a dispute can be resolved if we sit across the table from each other. Sometimes, we even make a new friend — or keep the one we already have.

Scripture takes the side of building people up, not tearing them down. The Apostle Paul wrote: “[Encourage] one another and build each other up” (I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV); “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19); “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.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Jesus weighed in, too. “[D]o to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12) Then he explains why this is so vital: “[F]or this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Using social media to send that message would be perfect.



5 comments… add one
  • John B. Phillips November 11, 2015, 8:25 PM

    What a great point about seeing the other person’s face! The verse from Proverbs is also great. Thanks for your comment.

  • Ellis Thomas November 11, 2015, 7:16 PM

    The saddest thing about our social media world today is that you can type whatever words you want and don’t have to see the face of the person you have hurt when they read it.

    Proverbs 21:23 says, “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”

  • John B. Phillips November 11, 2015, 5:02 PM

    Thanks for your comment. I hope the way most people respond is true. And it’s probable that most people don’t use social media as a way of tearing down. If my post left the impression that I think most or all people use it that way, I apologize. It does seem probable to me that Christians are more likely to say “connection” instead of “correction,” though there could be a little fudging there. In any event, the connection-correction dichotomy is a good one to think about. It just occurred to me that you may mean that people respond more favorably to connection than correction. That is surely true. Thanks again weighing in.

    • Lucy Phillips November 12, 2015, 9:16 PM

      I was saying that people respond better to communication that bridges an understanding t hrough connection. Even through differing opinions, people can find connections that build bridges.

  • Lucy Phillips November 11, 2015, 4:41 PM

    I heard a speaker ask over the weekend, “In your communication, are you correcting people or connecting with people?” Most people respond to connection rather than correction.

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