We have just been through a brutal election. One where many felt it was their duty to post the most vial, hate-filled and despicable language I have ever heard. People who I have been friends with for years have allowed their dark side to come out in unadulterated spewing of contemptuous drivel. And if their own thoughts weren’t plentiful enough they scoured the Web for filth and proudly re-posted it for all to see.
Congratulations folks we have proven the theology of total depravity.
So what do we do about it? Do we unfriend the malevolent toads? I know some of you have and I am not here to stand in judgement, but I would like to add some perspective that may make living with un-redeemed humanity a bit easier. After all, some of our posts may have been categorized using the above mentioned adjectives. And truthfully, I have croaked with the best of them.
Here's a question to ask - What is your purpose for using Facebook?
If you envision Facebook as a nice and cozy garden club full of happy congenial friends who swap recipes and always share the same opinions then by all means unfriend those who do not meet this standard. We all need places where we can meet and have pleasant, uncontentious conversation. If Facebook is that place for you then you need to choose your friends carefully. My only warning is this; that is not the real world we live in and you may find yourself out of touch with reality. We live in a messy often crass world full of people who don’t agree with us. Many have attempted to escape this reality by setting up communes and secret societies but eventually these break down because that is not the real world. Somehow we need to learn to live and hopefully make better this sorry state and that means mixing it up with our fellow man. Facebook can be a great place to do that – but it’s not perfect. Nothing is.
Next question - what are your boundries and how do you know when someone has crossed them?
Even though I believe I live in the real world I don’t let people poop on my lawn. When opinions are shared that are clearly meant to hurt and demean others I draw the line and politely invite them to leave. But I also have to ask; am I being oversensitive? Do I offend too easily? Just because someone holds an opinion that is abhorrent to me is that a reason to reject them? If I believe it is then maybe I need to toughen up and allow someone to hold a belief I loathe. Or better yet, be willing to enter into a respectful dialogue with them so that I can better understand their position and maybe bridge the gap between us.
Next question - are the things I am posting insensitive and hurtful to others?
Somehow Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media have made cowards brave and emboldened bullies. Stupidity reigns supreme because anyone with half a thought or an unsubstantiated opinion can express them without facing the consequences. This lack of accountability is frightening. It is the same cover that created the holocaust and numerous other anonymous atrocities. When one feels there will be no consequences for one’s actions we have the Lord of the Flies all over the place. Before posting anything picture yourself standing before a group of people and presenting what you are about to post. If you hesitate then DON’T POST IT! We all need to take personal responsibility for what we publish even if it is just a “share”.
Check your heart. If you are one of those who think “truth at all costs” then let me share a word of wisdom that I have learned from my many years of being “brutally honest with people”.
Truth without love in meaningless
That’s right. We can speak our truth with gusto and in utter conviction but if we don’t love those whom were sharing it with we are - in the words of the Apostle Paul
My “truth” will never rise above the din and be heard because it will be like all the other “truths” and dissipate into the cyber-air. We will be so much noise in a very noisy internet. We must truly care about the other person if we are ever going to be able to communicate the truth we believe so deeply.
So check your heart. Do you hate? Do you despise? Do you hold in contempt those with different views than yours? Then the only people who will read your diatribes are those who also hate, despise and hold contempt in their hearts. If that’s the community you want to create for yourself then keep on posting the poison. But in the end the person who will die from it - is you. But, if you want to be a source of inspiration and hope then be that everywhere including Facebook.