A friend recently asked me a great question regarding social media, “How do I know when I’m judging vs. holding someone accountable online?” The backdrop to his question is pretty obvious to most: social media can sometimes seem less like a place to share cute pics of the kids and more like a boiling cesspool of ignorant comments, hostile viewpoints and offensive language. And that’s just the Christians sharing :).
My friend has taken a lot of heat for trying to correct and call out other Christians whom he doesn’t think are best representing their faith or the whole counsel of Scripture. Is he judging others or simply holding them accountable? As we all grapple with the polarization of politics, culture and even social media, this is a pertinent question. In answering my friend, I went back to some ancient wisdom from King Solomon. Technology obviously wasn’t as advanced as it is today but Solomon’s words can still guide us because even though technology has advanced, human nature hasn’t. Here’s one of my favorite passages in the book of Proverbs:
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes. Proverbs 26:4-5
Moral of the story: interacting with fools is a lose-lose scenario. I love how Solomon intentionally put two contradictory proverbs right next to each other to drive home the point that when you sink down to the level of a fool (answering him according to his folly), you simply cannot win. Either way you become like the fool.
The application I draw from that is this: social media is simply not the medium within which to have spirited, complex, passionate debates about controversial issues like politics and religion (or both). Social media gives us the facade of anonymity, drawing out the worst version of ourselves, leading us to post and say things we would never say face-to-face to another person. So don’t get into social media arguments, period. Don’t try to correct someone through social media. If we all went back to sharing pictures of our cats on Facebook, this world would be a nicer place.
If you have a Christian brother or sister in need of accountability, talk to them face-to-face. Let them know there is love behind the accountability. You can’t properly communicate love through social media, making social media a horrible medium to try and hold someone accountable. As for all the nonsense that floods our News Feeds everyday,
9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. Proverbs 23:9
As for my friend, he’s making the smart decision. He’s getting off social media for awhile.