Let’s take some time to discuss the most well used form of gossip in the millennium: social media!
But shun empty chatter, for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will consume like gangrene,
2 Timothy 2:16-17a
There are six things which Yahweh hates; yes, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness who utters lies, and he who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-17
I often look at things that happen on social media among adults and say to myself, “If this were two children or teens, we would call this bullying!” Yet because “WE” do it as adults, we just call it “posting.”
I was never on MySpace, and I didn’t join the newer versions of social media until 2011. I was a bit behind the times. When I first got “on board,” I did the same as many do, posting daily updates of things I am doing, sharing funny memes, videos of cats, and what not. After a while, though, you do find yourself getting into heated debates, conversations, and sometimes even arguments on posts. It is easy to get caught in the melee. And, admittedly, I did as well!
Over time I learned, as some do, that I didn’t enjoy THAT kind of atmosphere. Instead, I changed to only posting ministry posts, prayer requests, and certain personal shares I felt would be uplifting to others. In recent months, we have all gotten into sharing political posts and “lockdown” posts as we keep up with what is going on this presidential election year. And, true confession, much of these last two topics has NOT been positive.
Currently, there are more than 10 platforms you can use to reach others around the world. We won’t go into name dropping them all in this article because you already know who they are and are likely using several of them yourself. These platforms are a hotbed for sharing the latest “truth” to ensure it reaches around the globe. Yet, one has to ask, what IS truth when it comes to social media?
My husband shared a story just this morning of seeing a photo posted. When he right-clicked the photo to search the internet for the original, he discovered the photo was of something completely different than what was being claimed. Had he just shared, and continued to spread the lie, who would have known? So many already had. Do you see how easy it is to fall into just sharing something you see on the internet?
Yet we are warned – many times in scripture – to guard our tongues and watch our words. We have shown this and more through our free e-book, The Sin Of Gossip, through our podcast series of the same name, and through this series of articles you are reading right now. Our Part 3 goes into some real-life examples of the difference between simply sharing updates on family and friends, or falling into the slippery slope of gossip.
It used to be, for a story to make the rounds, you had to schedule time with friends either out and about, or at someone’s home, where you could sit and chit-chat about stories you had heard recently. Quilting bees, canning sessions, or coffee time with friends were all great opportunities to spread the gossip to others in your neighborhood or town. Today, however, we have invited the coffee klatch into our homes – in some cases, for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Social media gives a false sense of anonymity in many cases. You are “safe” and “secure” inside the walls of your own home. You can say what you want, when you want, and how you want, then think comfortably, “what repercussions will there be?!”
Sadly, though, in many cases, social media has become nothing more than the internet version of the “rag magazines” that still, in some stores, grace the front aisles along the cash registers. Social media is easily filled with lies, deceptions, exaggerations, half-truths, and more. Several times in recent weeks, believers have shared random posts on various platforms which I checked by simply searching online for the information. Sadly, many times I find out that the information is untrustworthy, distorted, exaggerated, or worse, blatant lies.
Worse than just sharing these things is when I mention to someone that they ought to pull that down. I always back my request up with some kind of counter evidence to show the truth. Yet time after time I am shocked at how many believers refuse to retract what they originally published or shared. I am taken aback by the lack of concern for another reputation or well-being.
As believers, we should have no part in these things.
These are all things we are counselled against in scripture.
Social media CAN be a good tool to use in our lives – it can be used to spread good news, share family histories and stories, find old friends, keep in touch with loved ones who live far away. It can be a means of getting the word out on political truth, emergency information, business updates, and ministry sharing. It CAN have great value to us if we use it properly. I would like to challenge each of us, going forward today, to guard our literal fingers and thoughts which we share on social media, just as we would guard our literal tongues when we are speaking out loud.
Even on social media, we should be willing to uphold the principles we portray as our witness in public and in family. It should be even stronger online – because what we say will likely be shared. And one day it MIGHT go “viral.” If it does, and is false, it becomes like a critical case of gangrene that spreads throughout the body.
Rather than speak lies, deceptions, speculations, we should be willing to speak what is stated in Philippians 4:8 (WEB): “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Please, let’s remember not to just THINK On these things – let’s SPEAK on these things.
Over the years I have come to think of posting on social media in THIS way: If you would NOT shout it from the rooftops in the center of town over a loud speaker for ALL the town to hear, AND BE PROUD OF EACH WORD YOU HAVE SPOKEN, then you ought not put it on social media!
Blessings and Shalom!
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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