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.