Facebook and Twitter can be fantastic tools for communication, encouragement, laughter, playing Farmville, posting pictures of your cute dog “Eloise”, and general rollicking goodness. But, like every good gift, there can also be a dark side to social media. An unhelpful side. A sinful side. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you post something on Facebook or Twitter.
Is It True?
Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” When posting something as fact, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I know the whole story?” and, “Is it possible that there is another side to this story?”
Gossip and slander thrive on half-truths, so we always want to make sure that we have the whole story before posting something as true and factual. This is especially (!!!) true when saying anything about another person. As Mark Twain (or Winston Churchill or Charles Spurgeon, depending on your source) famously said: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”
Is It Helpful?
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The things that we post on Facebook and Twitter should have a positive, grace-giving, non-corrupting effect on others.
Before we post something we should ask, “Will this help others by encouraging them, making them laugh, inviting them to pray, giving them grace, assuring them of their salvation, etc?” Something may be true and yet still be unhelpful. I know that I’ve said things online that have not been helpful for other people, and I regret that. Please correct me if something I post isn’t helpful.
Will This Affect Others Negatively?
This is a little more subjective, but I think that it’s worth considering. When we post something we need to think about how it will affect others. So, for example, if I post an article about Barack Obama (I never do, but that’s not the point), there are two ways I could do it. I could post the article along with an angry, sarcastic comment about how much I hate our government and the general intelligence level of our governing officials. Or, I could post the article and state my disagreement in a way that won’t inflame people to anger or bitterness and is respectful toward Barack Obama.
It’s really important to think about these things because the way we talk about issues has a real effect on other people and can even lead people into sin. If I speak about something in an emotional, angry, inflamed, sarcastic, bitter way, other people will be led to respond in the same way. In Mark 9:42 Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Yikes! Those are serious words. I want to take the words I put online more seriously, because they have a real effect on others.
I’m a big fan of Facebook and Twitter. But I want to grow in posting things that give grace to others. Because my words matter, including the ones I type.