Disengaging Social Media

October 15, 2017

 

I don't like having serious conversations with people on the phone. To be more specific, I prefer not to discuss a problem between me and my wife by text message. We have attempted in the past to discuss serious issues with one another by text and it never seems to work. If she doesn't reply to my text in a timely manner, I may get the feeling she is ignoring me. If I send a one word response, she may believe I am being short with her. All it does is exasperate the situation. Well today I learned the same thing applies to social media.

I have to say I made that mistake today. I found myself engaging on Twitter with others who disagreed with me on a comment I made concerning the actions of our President Donald Trump.  For those who know me, you know I do not agree with much of the decisions of the Trump administration. However, my mistake was in attempting to engage those concerns on social media. I learned quickly that my rule concerning texting applies here as well. 

Here's the thing: No matter how eloquent you speak concerning a subject like politics, you can easily be misunderstood, taken out of context, or simply unheard. Now, before you look at this one sided, we also have the capacity to receive the posts of others the same way. In discussions as serious and important as these, we cannot trust the "magic" of social media to be the conduit for social change. That's not how it works. Especially, it today's social climate. These days most of us are more concerned with being right, than having a constructive public discourse. When we discuss matters we are passionate about we tend to get defensive and seek to speak without hearing. We do not actively listen, or empathize with the other person because we no longer see them as an individual with value, but a opponent to vanquish on the world wide web's stage. This is not the way. This is my lesson learned.

You see when I engaged in heated debates online, I found that neither side intends to budge. We are deeply entrenched in our beliefs and we will win (or so we think). In all of this, time has been wasted. It is not productive to argue points no one wants to hear. It is better to disengage. It is better to allow social media to be what it was meant to be. A place to share ideas. A place to make "friendships" that will enrich the lives of others and well as yourself. Maybe even laugh at a few memes. Why? Because life is too short and your time could be better spent engaging in good conversations with family and friends who love you and care about you. Healthy debating is perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, I have grown in many ways in life when someone with a different point of view discuss things with me. However, we must learn to shut down hurtful, and divisive conversations quickly. No one wins in these types of conversations. Second Timothy 2:23-24 says: "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (NIV). In other words, it is not beneficial to anyone to get into pointless arguments. Christ would rather we be productive in our conversations. 

So lesson learned. To keep my blood pressure from going up and my spirit from going down, I will disengage from the "hot button" issues on social media. It is easy to forget we are all really strangers to one another anyway, and if I can't have a serious conversation with my wife whom I love in a text, surely it is in advisable to have a political conversation on Twitter with a stranger.

Just a thought.

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