“What’s on your mind, Brian?” That is the question I wake up to every morning from Facebook.
That same question is being posed by the social media giant to its two billion other members around the world every day.
With the advent of social media, we have arrived at a place where the average person can have the power once held only by those in authority or perhaps those in media. That is the power to comment.
Americans, in particular, are being tempted every day to spout their opinion on every given issue. From politics to sports to entertainment to food to religion, there are no boundaries for what is open season for comment. This has some positive elements and many more drawbacks.
The positive is, of course, that the voice of any person, not just the powerful, can be heard. The drawbacks, however, are many and include these:
/// Everybody’s an expert
The famous British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan once quipped, “We have not overthrown the divine right of kings to fall down for the divine right of experts.” These days, self-proclaimed experts are everywhere.
No longer do you need to be a credentialed movie critic to critique a movie. No longer do you have to understand art to comment on it. No longer do you need an education or experience to say how schools, businesses, churches and more ought to be run. This inflation of self-appointed experts has made it harder to discern what voices should be heard and heeded, versus those who should not.
/// Extreme venting
You know the people I am talking about. Perhaps you are one. These people give full vent to their thoughts every day. I, myself, have fallen into this trap.
Maybe we have a bad experience at a restaurant. We take to social media to complain. Maybe you’re upset with a friend or family member. Instead of going to that person, you tell online friends all about it.
Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” The next time you are tempted to give full vent to your thoughts on social media, remember that those who speak less are often the ones who are heard more.
/// Mission drift
Public policy specialist Morton Blackwell said, “Keep your eye on the main chance, and don’t stop to kick every barking dog.” Social media tempts people to comment on every issue that arises. In this 24/7 cycle, news stories come along daily, hourly. People dog pile on the person or issue of the moment. Then we wait for the next issue to arise, so we can dog pile again.
This pattern leads Christians to become swept away with every controversy, leading to mission drift in the end. What we see, conversely, in the life of Christ was a focus that is missing today. When Jesus encountered people, He was always focused on the main thing. Of all people, the Son of God could have spoken with authority on any given topic. But instead, Jesus remained focused on the Kingdom of God and the salvation He came to bring.
The next time social media is tempting you to act like an expert on something you’re not; or to vent your anger; or to lose focus, try to resist. Don’t be like a dog that barks at everything, or you may soon end up in the social media dog house.