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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Social Media ... take two

A while ago I did a post on social media and then took it down because I was not sure how to word it correctly. I think I am now ready to try again, but this is not just about social media, it's about gossip in general.

I remember a valuable lesson I learned 10 years ago. We were living in San Antonio and the elections were gearing up; I was listening to NPR a lot in those days (and still do from time to time) and will never forget a story I heard. A radio broadcaster who was obviously on the 'left' side was interviewed over the phone by a radio broadcaster who was obviously on the 'right' side (and I don't mean 'correct' because both are corrupt ... I mean 'right wing'). The 'right' guy was planning on airing the interview for his audience at a later date, however something in the interview went wrong; something apparently really offended him. He stopped short and never aired the interview. He did however tell all of his listeners/followers how terrible this other person was. So what happened? They believed him of course, without ever knowing the 'other side of the story'.  The 'left' radio person shared with her audience how the interview was stopped short and never aired ... but that's not where it stopped. After the 'right' guy said what he said to his audience, his supporters sent thousands upon thousands of letters of hate mail to the person on the 'left'.

Regardless of who was right (correct) and who was wrong, this was certainly a very good lesson in social studies ... or mind control ... or gossip. Without ever knowing what really went on, tens of thousands of people simply took one persons word and participated in hate and slander towards someone else.

And this is what I have seen happen on social media sites like facebook ... well, chiefly facebook. When something is shared [and ~99% of the time the one sharing and the ones comforting/encouraging the offended are women], especially if it involves that person being 'wronged', not many are willing or able to stop and think: "maybe there is more to the story?" or "maybe this person is not even telling the truth?" They just believe it. Sadly, what ends up happening is a whole group of support begins to rally around the person who was 'wronged', thus giving that person further assurance that they 'really were wronged'. Even worse, now a whole group of people are participating in hate and slander towards someone else ... and they probably don't even know the person to begin with and don't even have the whole story!! What a sad, sad state we are in.

Our current church sign.

People think they are helping and encouraging, but really what they are doing is helping the person to sin, feeding self-pity, pride, or any other number of things, and setting the stage for it to happen again and again.

A brother here once said how it's like how someone goes down into their basement, sits in front of the computer, and all the sudden they are 'super man'. It's easy to hide behind the computer and be a super spiritual person or be someone else you are not, but it's much, much harder to be face to face with someone or in a group and just be yourself. It takes humbleness to be a part of a REAL body of believers and be willing to let them help you on your walk. It takes pride to hide and be a part of a pretend body.

Women, I caution you and encourage you: if you are participating in social media, PLEASE be careful of what you read and believe when someone else is sharing how someone or some group wronged them.  Please remember that you are only hearing one side of the story that may or may not be true. Before taking their side and possibly encouraging them in their sin, consider that there is another side. If someone is posting these kinds of things on their facebook or blog, chances are they are not doing it with the right heart ... and is it really any of your business anyway? These matters should be left for the people involved to deal with in a way that pleases the Lord, not be spread all over facebook or blogs.

Be careful not to participate in gossip or slander; the Lord hates both!

5 comments:

K said...

I agree with this! I also think one thing we CAN do, and is a shame when gets ignored, is respond to the person with caring. We don't have to take offense on their behalf and risk sin, we don't have to necessarily believe their account of what happened, but what we can do is acknowledge that they are actually just sharing their own pain over something. We can care about that, in a direct personal way at least, that does not go off into all this other gossip, inflaming of the problem and sinfulness.

Mrs. Bridget G. said...

Good post!

Steve Finnell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott Amburgy said...

So very well put. As so many times this is the case. Facebook is a tool. It is how we choose. Stay set apart. Shalom

Joanne said...

Multiple responses here ...

'K' - You said: "what we can do is acknowledge that they are actually just sharing their own pain over something."
I'm not sure what you mean by 'acknowledge'? My mind directly went to sympathizing ... which feeds self-pity.

Bridget - thanks :)

Steve - I'm not sure what your comment has to do with the post? It seems like you are just re-posting one of your posts here on my blog? So, I have deleted it (which I do not normally do ... but in this case I am because it just seems like you are trying to get people to follow your blog).

Scott - Shalom. You are right, facebook is a tool ... just like the internet in general, books, television, etc. We must be careful to use them wisely, if at all.

God bless you all.