Facebook/Twitter: Where is the Love?

Ok. Here it is: as a general rule, I don't think we use social networking as well as we could.

I find it increasingly depressing to open up Facebook, Twitter and various other social applications and see a wave of boasting, complaining and sniping washing over my news feed. Am I blameless? Absolutely not. But is this the way it should be? I don't think so.

I'm a Christian and strongly believe that the Bible is divinely inspired (from God) and intended to help us live our lives in the best, most fulfilling way possible. There's a passage in particular that I think can guide us in our use of social networking…or at the very least, can guide my future posts:

(You might not believe in God, but don't worry, although this next quote is from the Bible, it doesn't even mention the 'G' word. Just view it as wise words from old guys.)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

As Christians, we are called to love God and love people – as human beings, this world can only survive with love in its various forms, so I don't think anyone is exempt from this. I think the issue is one of love; that inadvertently, we are acting without love or at least, with less than perhaps we ought to. Here's what I believe we can learn from this passage:

Love is patient…

…so don't post impatient statuses/comments/tweets.

Love is kind…

…so use these forms of communication to build up, encourage and inspire, not to dig at, snipe up, tear down or destroy.

Love does not envy…

…so don't post bitter statements when someone else does something that makes you jealous.

Love does not boast…

…so we shouldn't boast! This is one of the most frustrating things for me to see personally – we don't walk around shouting about our new phones, computers, cars, qualifications, results etc, so why do we do it online? I've been bad at this in the past and have been trying really hard over the last year or so not to do it. This isn't a clear-cut thing though; in fact it's the one that I am currently wrestling with the most. For example, I love travelling and posting pictures of beautiful places, but where is the line between sharing your joy and boasting? A difficult one for sure that I'm still a long way from figuring out!

Love is not arrogant…

…so don't be! Sort of linked to the boasting.

Love is not rude…

…so speak well both to people and about people.

Love does not insist on its own way…

…so, sort of obviously, don't insist on your own way!

Love is not irritable…

…so don't be irritable.

Love is not resentful…

…so don't be resentful!

Some of these seem sort of obvious, don't they? We don't need to air our dirty laundry or slate the people around us publicly and really, does any one actually care about that latest expensive product we've just bought? Imagine if we used the online world to share joy, encourage the people around us and speak well of others. Imagine if we tackled big issues in a respectful, honourable way and tackled private issues…in private! To me, that sounds like a great place.

I'm going to do my best to create that place; I'd love it if you tried to create it with me. This is also an open invite to call me on it when I mess it up – honestly, feel free. I know I will…and probably before the week is out! We'll see!!

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