According to author Amy Jo Martin, “Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.”
You do not have to look far these days to find people trying to use social media to amplify their voice. We have even seen the rise in new terms like “hot takes” to describe the rapid reactions people air out online.
Christians are among those riding this wave of social media. Many believers are trying to present a faithful presence on social media. They are attempting to be salt and light, in the online world.
Since we are now 15-plus years into this social experiment of social media, it’s a good time to reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of what has come from our involvement.
Popular pastor and author John Piper wrote a brilliant article in 2009 about why he was joining the social media bandwagon. He said:
I see two kinds of responses to social Internet media like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.
Piper’s assessment rings true even today. Yet I think Christians are finding out the hard way that it’s more likely than not that social media will have a net negative effect on the people who participate in them.
Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matt. 7:6).
There are a lot of Christians today casting their pearls of wisdom on social media. They then seem to act surprised when people trample it under their feet. I would therefore encourage Christians to manage expectations of the social media world. Think about it. It’s highly likely those pearls you put out there will get trampled upon, even if your hope it will spread salt and light.
I have heard reports of Christians, who were once active on social media, taking a break from it, some even getting off altogether. But social media does not seem to be going away any time soon.
Because of this, Christians who want to stay on social media must learn to be wiser about it. After all, Jesus reminds us the perils of casting precious pearls, like the Gospel itself.