If you’re holding a smart phone or tablet in your hands, you’re holding the power to touch the world with your words. Today’s technology has given us instant access to share ideas and images with a few swipes of a finger. This technology is an incredible gift, BUT we need to remember that our words have the power to heal or the power to destroy. Our words can enhance our reputations or destroy our reputations. Our words can build relationships or tear them down. You can post something online in a few seconds, but its repercussions (positive or negative) could last a lifetime.
One of the most sobering passages of scripture in the entire Bible says: “...everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
I believe we’ll give an account for the words we speak AND for the words we choose to post online. In many ways, our words online carry an even greater weight, because they’ll be seen by so many people. I often find myself scrolling through a Facebook feed and cringing at the stuff people post. Sure, we all have a RIGHT to free speech, but we also have a RESPONSIBILITY to use our words wisely.
Next time you go to post something to your friends and followers, please ask yourself the following question (and I’m challenging myself to ask these same questions:
1.Would I want my children (or future children) to see this?
We are (hopefully) teaching our kids to speak words that are positive and not profane. Would you be glad for your kid to follow in your example with the tone and content of this post or would you hope he/she took a higher road? Let’s model the kind of behavior we hope our kids have someday (because they’re learning from everything we say and do).
2. Is it TRUE, is it KIND and is it NECESSARY?
We borrowed this 3-part litmus test from some friends of ours and now we try to adopt it as a family for everything we say or post. Something might be technically true, but if it’s not shared with love and concern for all people involved, then we need to re-examine our tone or re-examine our motives for sharing it in the first place. When we use social media for venting, gossiping or bad-mouthing of any kind, nobody wins.
3. Is this post/picture aimed at sharing my life OR just bragging about my life?
Social media can quickly turn into a competition of sharing “highlight reels” from life as a way to make ourselves (or our families) look perfect. There’s certainly nothing wrong with sharing beautiful moments online, but we also need to be careful that we’re not trying to create an image or perfection or elitism. Authenticity and humility are better traits than arrogance. When we always sing our own praises, we’ll usually end up singing a solo!
4. Could this post harm my relationships, my reputation or my career in some way?
Your employers and future employers will be looking at your social media and many people have lost jobs as a result of a careless post online. Many relationships have been damaged by venting online about some. Many reputations have been irreparably damaged by words. Please be careful. There’s much more at stake than you may realize.
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