Plato, at his best: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
And Solomon, at his: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2).
Regarding social media, I’ve fallen into the fool camp more often than I’d like to admit.
I’ve been self-righteous, tone-deaf, and insensitive at times. In turn, it brought regret, hurt, and confusion.
So, I sought understanding.
I landed on 6 things I need to do before I post anything on my social media. I hope you find it helpful.
Before you post words, imagery, comments, or article-shares on social media, do the following:
Where are you emotionally? How’s your heart? What’s your motive?
The Psalmist urges us to go to God before our words get us into trouble: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Are you exaggerating?
Is what you’re posting or sharing completely true?
Did you check the facts? Is the source biased? Did you share the article because of the title but not carefully read it through?
Is the post really necessary? Consider this:
• Have you ever been convinced by losing the argument?
• Have you ever been convinced by anyone’s posts, comments, and shares on social media, period?
• Have you ever been convinced by passive-aggressive imagery, tags, and such on social media?
• Have you ever been convinced by square quotes, italicized, emboldened, or ALL CAPS words?
What’s your priority?
Today’s cause you champion? Or the cause of Christ?
Making your point? Or maintaining peace?
You can make your point but lose your relationship.
Is it worth it?
Reflect on your audience.
Have you thought carefully about who sees your social media?
Take a minute and scroll through your friends/followers. Picture the faces of family and friends in your social media and relational world.
How will it make them feel? Have you put yourself in their shoes?
By the way, this is not about being politically correct, living for other’s opinions, or being afraid of what others think of you.
It’s about honoring your God.
God speaks a lot about the tongue, the mouth, and words, throughout Scripture. It’s a big deal to Him.
Jesus even said we’ll be held accountable for every word we say [and write, I’m sure] (Matthew 12:36).
Also according to Jesus, it’s about being a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9).
The Apostle Paul adds: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
It’s about humility. Humility in valuing others above ourselves, not looking to our own interests but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-40).
In fact, what view will they have of you as a result of your post/comment/share? What might be their takeaway of how you view them?
Even if you mean well, the odds are against you. You will be more misunderstood than understood.
The wisdom writer states, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 22:23).
How to guard our social media against bringing trouble and regret? When in doubt, don’t. Or at least get advice before you do.
Many times, I have run blog posts, social media content, and emails by my wife Christie and people that I trust and respect for their sound counsel.
They have saved me from a world of hurt that I’d have caused myself and/or others.
It’s best that we don’t trust ourselves, especially if we are too close to a topic and provoked by it and by people who support it.
Do you have family and friends that you could have look at your content before you post?
Better yet, do you have family and friends that could look at your social media right now to give you honest feedback?
Don’t be hypocritical.
Before you post, comment, or share, would you say the same to the person face-to-face?
Would you be willing to take time to understand them, their perspective, and struggle?
In our day, if people share a difference of opinion on a hot-button topic on social media, it’s no longer a disagreement. Rather, it’s cause for self-righteous judgment, hate, and venom.
The conversation then gets shut-down by vilifying the other person while ducking down into the anonymity or safety of social media. Even Christians say mean things on social media they would never say in public or person to person.
Heed the words of the apostle James: “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
Also, are you displaying false courage? It’s easy to make a stand on social media, especially in one’s own echo chamber.
After all, what’s the goal you’re after by your social media stand? And does it really make a difference? Is it worth it?
Is social media really the proper place? Do you have a plan of action outside of social media?
Are you posting/commenting/sharing on social media what might be perceived as polarizing and hurtful content by friends in other communities?
What about friends of another ethnicity, friends in law enforcement, friends of another sexual identity, or anyone else?
Are you being, well, two-faced? Might your online presence be cutting their heart one moment, only to then offer smiles and hugs to those same friends when you see them personally?
Build up, don’t beat up.
“Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).
Are your words helpful or harmful? Beneficial or berating? Good or gross? Inspiring or tiring? Encouraging or agitating?
By the way, these lead-in words and phrases do not count as helpful:
• “Don’t mean to offend, but…”
• “I’m not racist, but…”
• “Not saying I agree, but…”
This is like leaning in with a kiss, only to follow with a slap.
If you follow with a “but” you have canceled everything before it. It’s insincere, deceitful, and a bait and switch.
The Apostle Paul declared, “In all that you do, whether you eat or drink, do so unto the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Are you glorifying God with what you post on social media?
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
“First of all.”
Do you take time to pray before you post/comment/share to social media? Do you pray for the person before you respond to them on social media? Me neither.
John Piper said, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove on the last day that our prayerlessness was not from lack of time!” Ouch. I would add, not just prayerlessness in general, but especially prayerlessness regarding our Twitter and Facebook too.
Why all the bother?
Why the bother of this post? At the end of the day, Jesus died to bring us peace—peace with God, peace in our hearts, and peace with others. If he bothered enough to go to these lengths for you and me, so to we should bother to do the same.
Our Christian testimony and family unity are at stake—with each other, and before a non-Christian world. May our social media be a commercial of our relationship with God and the family love, care, and unity we show each other.
I’ll end with a great Scripture, easy to memorize, and tremendously helpful for our social media lives. Perhaps make this your screensaver:
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Let’s not be fools. Whether we have something to say, or before we have to say something, let’s pray:
“Set a guard over my fingertips, Lord; keep watch over the door of my social media.”
What do you think? You agree? Disagree? What do you agree with the most or the least? Anything you would add? Do share in the comments section.