I won't pick a particular situation to talk about this today, but let's think about what we are actually doing when we make "social media" the litmus test of public opinion.
- We're making ourselves feel that our personal beliefs and opinions are the only correct opinions and should be powerful enough to influence the rest of society. In all honesty, most of us need a reality check. Who cares what you think about X or Y situation? Is Connie Chung calling you to ask your opinion? Are you a government advisor or judge and jury on a high profile case? In all honesty, our opinions are extremely personal and generally "wrong" about 90% of the time (because there are at least 10 different opinions and we can't all be right).
- We're making people "stars" who should really not be in the media at all. When we jump on the bandwagon and make something "trend" we're drawing attention to something. The question is, are we drawing attention to the right things. For example, when Kim Kardashian "broke the Internet" was that really a good thing to be promoting? Why don't we focus on trending the good instead of the bad? Why don't we get to the root of racial issues rather than trending about who's right and who's wrong and who's protesting and who's rioting?
- We become judge and jury in our own hearts. "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you..." Matthew 7:1-2 (NASB). This is definitely the scariest one for me. Every time I'm tempted to pass judgement on a situation on social media, I try to keep in mind that I don't know all the facts. I'm definitely sure that I don't want the same standard of measure on my life as that on social media. I'm not saying that I've never posted my opinion in this blog or on Facebook, but I do try to keep judgment to a minimum, especially in my own heart. It's one thing to have an opinion, but when we become judge and jury in a situation over which we have limited information, we are playing a very dangerous game.
Here are some things you can do rather than blast people with different opinions that you on social media.
- "You must be the change you want to see in the world." ~Ghandi. If a situation is truly making your heart break, do something about it. Volunteer in a poor community to help fix the education system. Make friends with someone from another culture or color. Give to or volunteer at a center that supports the cause you care about. Volunteer as a crisis counselor or advocate for laws supporting those who have been abused.
- Pay attention to the plank in your own eye. Luke 6:41-42 and Matthew 7:3-4. Maybe you feel strongly about a situation because of sin in your own heart. Whether you are the popular or unpopular opinion on social media should not matter. Analyze your opinion of the situation based on God's perspective and spend time in His Word. If what you find doesn't line up with your opinion (again irregardless of what other people's opinion might be) or if you have some other underlying sin (pride, envy, dishonesty) take care of that before you do anything else.
- Tell about the good, bad, and honest struggles in your everyday life. Rather than sharing how you feel about someone else's situation, explain your background and your own experiences in something similar.
- Unplug. I'm just as guilty of needing to this as anyone else. When we get caught up by being connected all the time, we can neglect the goodness right in front of us. Take a long walk on a nice day, enjoy a hot bubble bath, spend time snuggling and reading books with your kids. Suddenly, the situation you felt so passionately about, may not be that big of a deal after all.
- Pray. If the situation in the news or social media is something that is still on your heart, then pray. Pray for God's direction on your life. Pray for him to open your eyes and your heart. Pray honestly for what He wants your next steps to be. Maybe you do have an opinion that needs to be shared with someone. And if that's the case, prayer is the best way to ferment that opinion, and God will open the door if that opinion needs to be heard.
If none of those work, then definitely continue to blast social media with your opinion and make sure you tell how all of your friends opinions are not as good as yours, but they can continue to think differently and you won't really be that mad at them, but they better not post comments on your wall anymore, because man they are wrong...