I've been using social media for nearly 15 years now. I started with MySpace in 2006 and then quickly added Facebook in 2007. It wasn't long before I added Twitter and others. At first, I used social media to connect with family, friends and to advertise ministries like church work, TITUS Camp, and other good works. Little did I know that within a decade I would be creating content for over 20 different platforms on 12 social media outlets. It is one of my greatest passions but I also take it very seriously. Churches, leadership organizations, colleges, ministries, and businesses rely on my insight and integrity. When I speak to young people, and really anyone in general, I try to encourage people to avoid certain things on social media. I call these the "Seven Simple Standards for Social Media" and I pray they will help you in your Christian walk.
#1 = Don't Bully People - Remember the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Simply put... treat other people the way you want to be treated. You might take it a step further in a positive direction and consult number seven in this list. If you cannot agree with people, or at least learn how to handle difficult people, you will struggle on social media. I heard a great quote once that says, "When in doubt, sit it out." You don't have to attend every pity party, roast contest, and bandwagon criticism on the internet. Don't fight with people. A counselor once wisely told me, "Hurt people... hurt people." That is an absolutely true statement. Bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) not the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
#2 = Don't Use Hate Speech - This is a serious issue today, especially on social media. Racism, discrimination, loathing, sexism, and prejudice have no place in the kingdom of God. The Bible plainly teaches against such behavior. We need more love (John 13:34-35, Acts 17:26, I Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 4:32, I Timothy 5:21, I John 2:11). Jesus spoke out on issues of hate and you should report hateful comments, memes, images, or rhetoric immediately. Promote a safe and loving environment. Intimidation, insinuation, and defamation are not Christ-like attributes. The Lord is a loving, compassionate and patient... the same should be said of the children of the Lord. He is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).
#3 = Don't Use Passive-Aggressive Language - Passive-aggressive behavior is defined as "a pattern of hostility" while revealing "an avoidance of direct communication." This is a strategy of an aggressor to throw out seemingly random statements that are clearly directed toward an individual or group, but only a limited audience clearly understands the genuine threat or intent of the comments. This individual wants to appear as the victim or martyr, but the statements made reveal the opposite. This behavior reveals a coward who refuses to practice the biblical principles of conflict resolution (Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1-2, Ephesians 4:29, James 4:11). If you use phrases like "you will reap what you sow" or "you will get what's coming to you" or "what goes around comes around" or "you better be ready" or "you know who you are" or other phrases like that it sounds like you are struggling with paranoia and/or need psychosis. How do you know the person you are trying to bully is even reading those comments? Threatening karma, giving warnings or praying for God's vengeance on another person not only makes you look childish, petty, or hateful but it makes you look like our real enemy (Ephesians 6:12).
#4 = Don't Share Things To Quickly - This is something we are all guilty of from time to time. Be aware of the original links of the original post. People will track back the content creator and it may be sensitive or copyrighted material. Be careful that you listen to the entire video or watch the entire GIF. Some videos have music and commentary that would be considered un-Christian, racist, or insensitive to the people who follow you. Be slow to speak or respond to anything (James 1:19). Always pray about it first (Matthew 6:33, 7:7). Be sensitive to your followers or friends. You may think the content is funny or informative, but you have to consider your audience.
#5 = Be Aware of Addictive & Dangerous Behavior - Too much of anything in this world can be dangerous. Take a break from time to time. Technology is addictive. Also, we are all aware of road rage... right? The same thing can happens when we are overzealous about a comment or post on social media. We might spend hours "defending" ourselves or someone else. Is this helpful? At this time I would like to mention that some people simply cannot handle social media and should avoid it all together (I Corinthians 1:10, Galatians 5:9, James 4:1-3). If you have problems with the four A's you should avoid social media: anger, anxiety, arguing, or arrogance. The internet can have such a positive influence on people. However, is also a breeding ground for narcissism, egoism and vanity.
#6 = Be Aware of Your Influence - As powerful as your influence can be for good... it can also be a great influence for evil. We need to watch our words, tone, and content. James warned his readers that out of the same mouth cannot come blessing and cursing (James 3:10). Non-believers criticize Christians (and rightly so) for our hypocrisy. We should carefully examine everything we do or say (I Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). If our behavior resembles the wickedness... how can people see the difference between the darkness and the light (Matthew 5:14-16)? You are influencing family, friends, and others with everything you do. Are you a good ambassador of Christ (II Corinthians 5:20)?
#7 = Be Like Jesus - Ask yourself a few simple questions... Would Jesus post or share this (Philippians 2:5)? Is this Christ-like? If Jesus were to return as I am hitting the send or share button, would it effect my eternity? Is it profitable? Is it positive? Does this hinder my influence? Is this really worth my soul?
I hope you take these things to heart and share them with others. Have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds