I’ve been writing more on social media lately. My interest focuses on how Christians can use this new technology to improve our reputations within the larger community and how we can communicate the Gospel to both believers and non-believers alike.
Gina posted recently about a Kenneth Cole Twitter faux pas. She wrote, “Fashion designer Kenneth Cole may have set a new record for insensitivity when he tweeted: ‘Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now online . . .’ But the Internet is getting back at him for his faux pas. Within hours, Twitter was awash in mockery.”
One of her conclusions is that the backlash and mockery of this obviously insensitive tweet proves the limitations, and advantages, of social media. She’s right.
Social media offers incredible potential for individuals, companies, ministries, and the Church. We have the ability to point out stupidity, irrationality, and other negatives with the mere stroke of a key board. But this advantage is also social media’s most dangerous snare.
As an active social media user, I recognize the severe lack of charity and kindness of Christians. If you analyzed the Facebook status’ or tweets of Christians as compared to secularists or anti-theists, you might not notice the difference. This is especially the case on political or religious subject matter. Christians must exercise the Christian virtues, and not just pepper posts with an occasional Scriptural quote or reference to a Christian writer. Our standard is higher than that.
We do not have the liberty of acting however we want on the street or on the Internet. People may not be able to see our face when they attack us and the threat of retaliation seems non-real in the virtual world, given the impersonal nature of the tools, but our souls are still hanging in the balance. Atheists, post-modernists, or Christians who don’t think you’re "Christian enough" might be more vitriolic than Christopher Hitchens on his worst day, but we must uphold our faith with dignity and integrity.
Here are a few reminders/tips that might help those looking for help in tempering your online attitude:
The screen name, Twitter handle, or whatever you’re engaging online is an actual person. Each person has incredible value and worth—Christ died for them too. So be nice.
We sin as easily by lacking charity on Facebook as we do at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
God’s heart pours out to people who cool their tongue (or fingertips) and respond to criticism with love and kindness.
Do you have any other thoughts and Christians and social media, or recommendations on how to be more Christ-like online?