Sometimes I fear that the advent of social networking (Twit, FB) and new media (blogging, etc) is making us less civil as a species (the species I refer to us genus Christianus). And this is sad, because Christians have a long history of harnessing new technologies for good purposes. We used Roman roads and Koine Greek to spread the news about the kingdom in the 1st century, and centuries later made good use of the printing press to facilitate the Protestant Reformation. So we have a track record of doing well.
But lately we’ve been doing poorly. Recently one well known evangelical pastor was quoted on Twitter as saying that Christians don’t necessarily need to learn more about Scripture, they merely need to practice what they already know. This pastor has a track record of faithful service in the church and a clear devotion to the Scriptures as a final authority in matters of faith and conduct. Could be modified I think, but not bad advice overall. Not long after that, another (also well known) evangelical pastor, seeing the quote, proceeded to accuse the first pastor of having “a classic low view of Scripture” and then went on to lampoon him in several later Tweets.
Now there are a lot of things I could say about this, but in the spirit of fairness I will just say the following:
- Obviously 164 characters is not sufficient space to articulate a thorough view of any given subject
- Obviously the 2nd pastor was smart enough to realize that; he’s not a dumb guy
- So I can only conclude that social networking is a vice to be avoided for him
It seems to me that social networking is a lot like booze – it doesn’t “create” behavior; it merely removes a person’s inhibitions so that whatever’s in their hearts comes out. Am I wrong about this? Then show me. I’ve seen more Christians act like jack-you-know-what’s on FB and Twitter than I care to admit, and I can only conclude that they’re simply acting out the impulses in their souls – impulses that they do a halfway decent job of covering up in more “controlled” settings.
Charity, the Scriptures teach us, is the central Christian virtue. That, at a minimum, means that we’re just, fair, and generous in our assessment of others, even, and I would say especially in places where’s its all-too-easy not to be. And the reality is that the more we act out a lack of charity in this powerful but dangerous medium, the more we create a polarized and mistrustful atmosphere.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.” We sow unfairness, we reap unfairness. We sow love, we reap brotherhood.
So, in my judgment, when it comes to social networking – BE NICE! (For God’s sake)