Five Questions We Should Ask Ourselves Before Posting on Social Media
Cyberspace is not only infinite, but eternal. No matter how silly, foolish, embarrassing our thoughts might be, they will be allowed to merge onto the information superhighway. But, all the off-ramps are closed. Believing the best defense is a, well, great defense, here are five things we ought to ask ourselves before posting anything on social media.
1. Ask yourself- if my mother, pastor, spouse, children were to read this, would they be ashamed of me?
The point is not that our calling in life is to be certain no one is ever embarrassed by us. Indeed your mother, pastor, spouse, children could be wrongly embarrassed, embarrassed when they ought not to be. The point is instead is to be deliberate. Don’t embarrass by mistake.
2. Ask yourself- where is this coming from?
Posts that are fueled by anger are almost never good. Posts fueled by pride never are. Both anger and pride tend to muddy our thinking, and to expose our own self-righteousness. Perhaps nothing should call us to hit delete instead of send more than those posts that combine pride and anger. That is, the really clever, snarky comeback that shows off my literary panache against someone who has made me angry is really just me smearing egg all over my face.
3. Ask yourself- have I practiced a judgment of charity toward the person I am writing about/responding to?
Practicing a judgment of charity is always a good thing. How much more so in the context of a medium that allows for virtually no non-verbal communication? Without facial expressions, tone, volume it is all too easy to misread. Emoticons will not solve this problem. Before writing a rant asking how a friend, or an enemy, could possibly believe x, why not first ask them, do you really believe x, or have I misunderstood you?
4. Ask yourself- am I seeking to serve Jesus with this post, or am I seeking my own?
There has been a great deal of heat on the interwebs lately, sparks spreading from the recent Strange Fire conference. The issue of continuing sign gifts is an important one. Someone is wrong on this. But if we could look into our hearts, chances are we will see less a concern that our brothers enjoy the blessings of biblical fidelity on the issue, more a concern that my feelings were hurt, or a concern that those who dare to disagree with my understanding be put in their place.
5. Ask yourself- am I casting pearls before swine?
Well that’s not a very nice question, is it? It is, however, a biblical one. Jesus Himself tells us not to do this (Matthew 7:6.) The NIT, New Interwebs Translation, of Matthew 7:6 is “Don’t feed the trolls.” Feeding trolls is bad for the food, bad for the trolls, and bad for you. Trolls are those who delight to raise our blood pressure, all the while not caring a whit for the issue at hand. To interact with them is to communicate, ironically, that you also don’t care about the issue at hand. Trolls are also tar babies. Once you engage, it’s tough to disentangle.
Okay, 6. Ask yourself- am I being a troll?
I’m not sure which is worse, self-conscious trolls, or not self-aware trolls. The former know they are being nasty, the latter don’t even know themselves.
Before you fire off a reply, please understand that I am not writing as one who has mastered these six questions. (Which reminds me, let’s make it ten- ask yourself, have I read the whole piece? Have I at least made an effort to read through the comments? Is the question I’m about to ask one that google can answer? Do I know the difference between to, too, and two, there, their and they’re? Arminian and Armenian?) I am, however, going to, by God’s grace, try harder. I hope you will too.
Bonus Suggestion- Every now and again my spiking blood pressure upon reading someone else’s wisdom on the web actually sets off a helpful alarm. I think, “Boy, I’m awful mad. Better be careful. Though I ought to always do this, there have been times where I sat down, and asked myself this- are you able to write a reply that is both helpful and gracious? Let’s see how you can do. Those, in the end, are the posts I am most proud of.