Social media gives opportunity to bridge gaps and birth relationships all over the world. It allows us the ability to see inside lives of those we know and don’t know. However, for as many beautiful opportunities it provides, it also has the capacity to enable pain. The worst part: it forbids forgetfulness. The power of your words will carry.
My brother, who was a soldier suffering from PTSD, died suddenly on July 19th. My world flipped upside down. I’m still reeling from the shift, and Facebook is making sure I never forget his words. Almost every morning while trying to gain enough energy to make my way to the coffee pot, I scroll through my wall and memories. Today, I awoke to a notification from my brother that said, “I love you, sissy.” He was almost eleven years younger, so no matter how old we grew, the name sissy stuck.
Social media has the ability to do both good and harm depending on how it’s used. But, what happens when it speaks beyond the grave? As a writer, I know words live. As a person of faith, I know God’s Word lives. Words matter. Everything we say on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and every other social media source out there has the ability to speak to others through life and death. The power of the Internet dictates we don’t have to be perfectly punctuated, published authors to continue speaking beyond our time here. We only need an opinion powered by the use of our fingertips. It’s rather frightening.
Have you ever thought about your statuses living beyond today and shouting your emotions long after you’re gone? It might seem like a morbid subject, but seriously, when you’ve awoken to words from a loved one no longer here, you make room for conversation and careful thought about topics you would have never broached otherwise.
To be honest, I didn’t have one Facebook memory with my brother show up while he was living. Now that he’s gone, they are pouring into my feed. I’ve decided I’m okay with it. This morning, my brother told me he loved me, three months after he left for heaven.
All this has provoked deep thought in me as to what I say online, as well as what I read. Thankfully, the Facebook memories I have with my brother are sweet. But, what if they weren’t? What if I read something disturbing? How would that change the structure of my grief? Have you ever thought about how you govern your social platforms? Have you thought about the memories that might pop up after you, or a loved one, leaves for eternity? I believe there are three basic godly foundations we must consider to encourage responsible management of our social media accounts.
1. We Must Consider: Does What We’re Posting about Have Eternal Value?
Before spouting opinions, we must consider if the subject matter has eternal value. And, we must remember that everyone weighing in, regardless of whether their opinion differs from ours or not, does have eternal value.
Subject matters I consider to carry eternal value are life and death situations: people struggling both physically and mentally, and people who are aching to hear truth through the Word of God, not man’s opinions.
Believe me; I understand certain times call for standing up for principles. I get it, really I do. I’m not condoning complete silence in serious conversation, and I don’t believe in backing down from important issues where truth seems to land in grey areas. However, when reading rants on Facebook, I rarely see anything carrying eternal value in topic. And, if the issue does have eternal value, the way people defend their own opinion is usually done in a malicious tone. Suddenly, the whole world has a deep ache to be heard and when they finally get their chance through social media, they are showing everything and anything BUT love.
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. - Colossians 4:6
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. – Matthew 12:36
2. We Must Consider: Are Our Words Bringing the Grace of the Gospel or Judgment?
If we are speaking simply out of a need to prove a point, then we must stay silent. In Christ, it’s not about proving our point; it’s about showing His light in us. He doesn’t need us to defend Him. He does a great job of that on his own in countless different ways every single day. He needs us to show his manner of love and life to a world hungry for His true grace and mercy. He uses our hands as tools to help carry the gospel, not to furiously type responses “to set others straight” on Facebook.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
3. We Must Consider: Are We as Quick to Jump into Prayer as We are Online Debates?
I’ll admit… tangible conversation is tantalizing. We want to converse with someone who responds back. This is why social media is so tempting. The screen provides courage. I’ve found that most people offering strong opinions on Facebook are not the type to engage in face-to-face conversation provoking wars of words.
It’s very important to weigh in with God on difficult and emotional topics, working them out in Christ, before speaking on social network platforms. Prayer is still the most beneficial, and rewarding, conversation we will ever be part of. That will never ever change. And, He does respond back in His own way, in His own time. When we open up His Word, we will become even more aware of his thoughts toward us, and He will shed light on tough topics involving the people He created.
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore! - 1 Chronicles 16:11
When we weigh our words, we speak life in the future. What we say today can, and probably will, impact a tomorrow when we are no longer here. Have Facebook memories ever given you new perspective?
Jennifer Kostick is an author and speaker who teaches women how to activate their life’s purpose through the study of Scripture. Jennifer knows more about grief and loss than she ever thought she would, but Jesus met her in the middle of fierce storms and held her tightly with an even fiercer love. In addition to her love of teaching the powerful truth of Scripture, Jennifer is married to Paul, her husband of twenty-five years, has three children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law! She is also a full-time seminary student… because you can never know too much about the Bible! Jennifer blogs at www.Jenniferkostick.com and is passionate about encouraging women through a godly message of mercy and hope.