Social Media Presence

Social Media Presence

Have you ever known someone who, whenever that person opened his or her mouth to speak, caused you cringe because you had no idea what was going to come out?  (I hope I am not that person in your mind!)  This is the kind of person who has a reputation for speaking first and thinking later, often with devastating results.  The most recent public example is Roseanne Barr, the television actress and comedienne, who sent out a tweet this week that has resulted in several consequences not only for her, but for many other individuals connected to her as well.  Her tweet compared Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who served as an adviser in the Obama Administration, to a character from the movie “Planet of the Apes.”  The racist subtext of this statement resulted in her being fired from the incredibly popular reboot of her eponymous sitcom and its cancellation, which in turn has affected the jobs of several other actors, crew, writers, and so forth.  Such consequences never crossed Barr’s mind prior to hitting the “send” button, yet the fallout came regardless.

Like so many aspects of this world, social media accounts are not in and of themselves evil things.  Having a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account can be an efficient way to be connected to family and friends who are many miles (or even continents!) away.  Photos and videos are easy to share with one another via these platforms, and the quick blurbs that we write can provide succinct updates to those whom we love and care about.  However, there is also something about the posting of statements on the Internet that seems to mute one’s decorum, civility, sense of propriety, and love for one’s neighbor.  Many have observed that the seeming anonymity offered by the Internet (which, I must warn you, does not really exist) has played to our basest natures, drawing out vitriol and vileness.  If you’ve ever read any comments section on the Internet, you’ll know what I mean.  The other aspect of online communication that plays a role here is the lack of real, personal, face-to-face communications.  We all know how much easier it is to speak about someone behind their backs rather than to their faces.  Social media allows us to say awful things about others in a public way without having to personally be in the presence of the person.

In many ways, social media gives people the opportunity to have their voices heard in a manner unlike anything in human history.  One need not have a position of power or wealth in order to have social influence (although those certainly help!); one need only have a Twitter account or Facebook page with a moderate amount of followers.  Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  The question for us as believers is, how are we using our voice?  I don’t want to suggest that you can never share that funny meme or humorous video (laughter is a balm, after all), but is that all you post?  Even more important, how do you handle issues that are more controversial, whether issues of politics, religion, or culture?  Are your words seasoned with grace, or are they just salty?  The reality is that we can disagree – passionately, even – with someone from another perspective without personal attacks.  We are ambassadors of the King of kings, and as such we are obligated to share His message…not our own.  When we use these platforms for speaking the truth in a loving way, we are proclaiming the Kingdom until He returns.  Can that be said about your social media habits?  So much of the damage done on social media could be avoided by asking, “Would I say that if Jesus were here beside me?”  Just something to think about…


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