By: Jon Meerdink
As much as I love Twitter, I think I’ve got a pretty vanilla feed myself. Other than stuff about the Packers, the NBA, a few random current events jokes, and some humorous retweets, I don’t think I have much to say. But there’s a reason behind my non-confrontational Twitter ways.
About a year and a half ago, I unthinkingly fired off a passive-aggressive tweet which included a snide (albeit surreptitious) remark about a couple friends. Of course, one of those friends figured out what I was talking about and called me out on it, saying that if I had a problem, I should have talked to him directly.
Of course, he was right. I was wrong to say what I said, and since then I’ve kept a pretty tight hold on my twittering. But the situation got me thinking about the way we communicate in the 21st century. Does the Bible have anything to say about it?
I think it does. Consider James 3 and its lessons on taming the tongue. We may not use our actual tongues to communicate as much anymore, but do a little word substitution (which I don’t recommend for regular Bible study, but bear with me) and suddenly James is a treatise on social media. For example:
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame their thumbs. They are a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With our tweets we praise our Lord and Father, and with them we curse our followers, who have been made in God’s likeness.” (James 3:7-9, Jon Meerdink Standard Version)
Obviously I’m taking some liberties with the text, but I think the general principle of the verses still stands. We’re under compulsion to communicate responsibly, regardless of the medium we choose. That goes for our online relationships with fellow believers as well as non-believers. Tweets, Facebook posts, and everything else should be just as edifying as our normal communication.
Even if we’re not communicating with anyone directly, I think we still have have an obligation to reflect the image of Christ online. In our increasingly electronic lives, it’s possible that we’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to live out our faith in person. That could mean setting an example in our online lives is more important than ever. Believe it or not, people do notice what you share. While I’m not saying we should go full Tebow and tweet Bible verses exclusively or only share links to John Piper articles, but maybe just take a second and think who might be watching, reading, or listening before posting that ever-so-slightly off-color video.
In fact, if I had to give two words of advice, it would be this: just think. Take a moment and think about why you’re tweeting that tweet or posting that status to Facebook. Is it appropriate? Is it edifying? Is it passive-aggressive? Whiny? A desperate plea for attention via vague song lyrics? (Okay, that one is just a pet peeve of mine.)
If we all take a few seconds to consider why we want to say what we’re saying, we may all be better off.