I know a little something about you. You have a love-hate relationship with social media. Some days there’s hardly any love at all. You’re tired of the noise.
So many opinions.
So much posturing.
So much anger.
Some days the noise can make you sick to your stomach. And, honestly, some of it is your own voice that you’re sick and tired of.
I found some nuggets of wisdom tucked away in a book that I’ve had for ages. This is what it says:
“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So, throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:19-21(MSG)
The NIV version says it in a more familiar way:”Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Those three things might just be the key to making social media great again.
1. Listen First.
The first thing I want to do when I’m irritated is talk. A lot. To everyone who happens to be near enough to hear.
What if we listened first? Listening puts us in a position of watching, waiting and anticipation. It’s a posture of truly trying to understand. Listen to the person whose political views you don’t share. Listen to the person who drives you nuts. Listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying.
Listen first when you want to sound off on what’s hurting or irritating you. It might change the entire story.
2. Wait To Speak.
My daughter asked me yesterday what it meant to be “slow to speak” (we’re talking about this passage a lot in our home). The first thing I told her was that we don’t need to share our opinions on everything. The dangerous thing about social media is that it’s so accessible. It doesn’t ask us before we hit “post” if we really mean to say those angry, passive aggressive irritated comments.
The second thing I thought of was how her older brother, Ethan, enters a room. He leads with his mouth. He’s talking before he even arrives in the room. It does not occur to him that he’s interrupting me. I’m often in the middle of a conversation with another child when he does this. It drives me nuts. It’s the same thing when we don’t think before we post. We enter that digital space, leading with our mouth.
Being slow to speak looks like letting things simmer inside of our heads for a while. It looks like entering that digital space quietly. It looks like what we practice in 2nd grade sharing time at our tutorial. We wait until it’s our turn to talk. Sometimes it’s just not our turn.
3. Keep A Lid On Anger.
Here’s the thing about anger: We can’t always help it if we feel angry. We can, however, keep from speaking and acting in anger.
I know it’s possible to express anger appropriately, but I’ve not seen many people do it well.
The digital world is full of angry, argumentative and passive aggressive comments. I don’t know who to credit this to, but I read somewhere that who you are online is who you are. In other words, if you are a bully online, you’re actually a bully. There’s not two of you. So, if you’re an angry person online, you have to accept that you are an angry person.
I don’t want to be an angry person. I would rather be the person who shares funny things about their kids and doesn’t take herself too seriously when it comes to things that don’t matter.
What do you think? Would our social media experiences be better if we listened more, were slower to say what we were thinking and were more hesitant to post when we’re angry?