Social media is everywhere in our world. We have it book marked on our computers and its apps are installed on our phones. I read somewhere that the average person checks Facebook twenty times a day. Twenty! That’s like ten times more than we brush our teeth (if you have good dental hygiene, that is)! However, dental hygiene is not the real issue here (I trust you regularly brush and floss yo’ teeth). The issue is that we are spending increasing amounts of time on social media, and as a consequence are spending less and less time doing other things. The other issue-which I have realized more and more the past few months or so-is that we let what happens on social media have a huge effect on us.
We all have that annoying second cousin that won’t stop posting intense political articles, that old coworker who shares every cat meme ever, or that acquaintance from high school that feels like they must update you on every aspect of their life during every single minute (“I’m brushing my hair! Now I’m driving to work! Sad face, I just saw a dead raccoon on my way to work! Ugh, it’s 10 am and I already need a nap!” …you get the picture). Social media can serve as a source of annoyance for things like that.
It can also serve as a source of anger when people share things that you strongly disagree with, post opinions that drastically differ from your own, or say things that you believe are just wrong. It can also serve as a source of hurt, as people can be downright mean. I’m talking about those people that take advantage of their anonymity or use their keyboard as a shield, typing extraordinarily cruel things about people they have never met in real life or really know anything about. “Trolls” I am told they’re called (although I still think of trolls as those cute pink haired dolls with the gemstone bellybuttons I had as a little kid).
This morning as I was having my coffee and scrolling through my Facebook feed I was struck by a conversation that was going on between some people I vaguely know about someone else I also vaguely know. I would have kept scrolling without a second thought except I recognized the screenshot that was posted as something I had just seen somewhere else on my newsfeed. Upon further investigation, because I am a nosy curious person, I read the series of comments about someone who was selling something that they had won. The comments proceeded to express opinions about how wrong this was, about the awful choice this person was making by for doing this, about how bad their true colors were…
I immediately was upset, but brushed it off and continued on with my morning routine. However, throughout breakfast, more coffee, getting dressed, more coffee, starting my car, and more coffee-I just couldn’t get the conversation out of my head. Because I know the person that they were talking about I obviously have a biased opinion on the subject. However, I haven’t seen that person in years-at least six or seven. But from what I know about the person, they are one of the sweetest and nicest souls around. Yes, they could have changed drastically in the past few years. Sure, maybe they did wrongfully accept the gift with the intent to sell it later. Maybe their true colors are not so great. Or…maybe they are a great person. I don’t know. The point is, the people making all of these comments don’t really know either. They publicly were ‘talking trash’ about another living, breathing person (regardless of whether that person’s intent was bad or good) who likely would be very hurt to see their comments.
Jesus constantly calls us to be examples to others. In fact, Sunday’s sermon at church was how to handle conflicts in a Godly manor (seriously, one of the best sermons I have heard in a long time!). How we as Christians handle situations (whatever those situations may be) reflects on our religion, our beliefs, our Bible, and our God.
I am not claiming to be good at this-at all. In fact, I just ordered the book our pastor referenced in his sermon about conflict, because I am so dang bad at it. We are all human. We are imperfect, drawn to gossip, quick to jump to conclusions, and slow to listen-exactly the opposite of what we are told to do (James 1:19 says “Understand this: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”).
I was upset by this conversation I saw, upset at people’s quickness to judge, upset that as adults we still haven’t grown out of gossiping and tattling on people. This upset-ness (that’s not really a word but we can pretend) faded as I got to work and was immersed in Monday morning tasks.
Then, as usual, God intervened.
I was checking my junk email to make sure I didn’t miss any important ones (no one important really ever emails me, but you can’t be too sure ;)) when I came across one of Stewardship’s 40 Acts. It was Act 23: Share, Pray, Like. And what it said was this: dedicate some time to pray for the things you see in your newsfeed. Small or large, personal or global-whatever it is, just take a second to pray about it.
I felt like I had been slapped in the face. Here I was, thinking about how upset I was at something, being a Judgy McJudgster about their Christian-ness, remembering Sunday’s sermon…and I didn’t even think to pray about it! Facepalm, Cote.
What a great reminder Act 23 serves for us. Before being quick to judge and point our finger, or get angered, or saddened, or whatever it is-why don’t we take a moment to pray about it? We all make mistakes. We all have opinions. We all have Facebook (or so it seems this day). And thus, this month I am making it my priority to pray for the world of social media and for the souls sitting behind their monitors and smartphones and iPads. Will you join me?
Find Stewardship’s 40 Acts here: www.40acts.org.uk