How a Better Samaritan Uses Social Media for Good, Not Evil
Aubrey Sampson and Brian From
When we think about the rapid technological changes within the last ten years or so, obviously nothing has had quite the same impact as social media. Statistics suggest that Americans average around two and a half hours of their day on social media, over 900 hours a year.
In an age when we are more connected than ever, the rates of loneliness and depression are also higher than before. In a recent study from Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project, reports suggest that 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.” Not surprisingly, loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
For such a time as this, Christians face some watershed questions: how do we use our social media presence and platform for God’s glory? How do we use our social media to help curb loneliness? Ultimately, how do we use our social media for good?
Before Twitter existed, the wise king Solomon shared short bits of ancient wisdom. We find, throughout his Proverbs, good guidance when it comes to our social media usage today:
Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” The old cliché, “hurt people hurt people” feels like it has never been truer than it is today. People on all sides of every issue are lonely and wounded, and those lonely people spend their days on social media wounding others.
The world makes jokes about “rage-posting,” but we need to take our emotions seriously before going on social media. We need to check our emotional temperatures before posting, scrolling, and engaging. Are you entering your social media spaces while in an intense emotional state? Are you there to convince others of your “right” position? Are you posting to degrade another image-bearer? Are you sharing clickbait or insults? Are you venting ragefully?
It’s easy to tear others down or share hot-takes that prove your point. It takes more intentionality to use your voice and your words as a source of healing. Before posting, evaluate the state of your own emotions—go for a walk or check in with a friend, say a prayer, read liturgy—then go online with self-health and healing others in mind.
Proverbs 16:23-24, “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” As God’s image-bearers, we are God’s tselem, his living statues, his representatives; we are here to mediate his presence on this earth, including social media. Remember that as you engage on social media, you represent Jesus to a hurting world.
And really, if you would not say it to someone over coffee or across the dinner table, it should not be said on social media. Wisdom teaches us that in choosing our words carefully, both online and in real life, we have the opportunity to teach others what it means to live a life for Christ in this world.
Kind and compassionate words refresh the souls of others and reveal that we have a kind and compassionate God.
Proverbs 17:17, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Perhaps the most dangerous part of online interaction is how easy it is to forget that embodied image-bearers are on the other side of every post and comment. And the more we post, the more opportunity we have to dishonor the image of God in others.
The world does not need more noise; it needs thoughtful, compassionate content. Each time you go online, ask the Spirit of God to help you remember that the world is isolated and lonely, in need of the great love of God in Jesus. Leverage your voice and your platform for the good of others by choosing words that heal, words that promote kindness, words that speak shalom (justice and peace) over others, and words that are filled with godly wisdom.
Pastors Brian From and Aubrey Sampson host The Common Good podcast Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm (CT) on AM1160 Hope for Your Life. Aubrey is the author of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament and the upcoming Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything. Brian leads Four Corners Community Church in Darian, Illinois. They are passionate about civility, compassion, and unity in a divided world.