Let’s face it: There’s a lot of good that social media can do. It helps us stay in touch with friends and family members. It allows us to share memes and videos and quotes that make us laugh or clap or cry. It offers us the opportunity to read articles and essays and blogs that make us think deeper and differently. It provides forums to share ideas and opinions and information.
But the problem with social media is that it costs us nothing. (Except time and angst and emotional energy.)
The pitfall of social media is that if we feel strongly about a social justice issue, we can hit the “post” button with more force than usual and feel like we’ve accomplished something. Like we’ve made a dent in the issue of racism or abortion or politics or immigration by virtually weighing in.
But research shows that isn’t true.
Very little (if any) change happens when we post on social media. We get a false sense of accomplishment, personal vindication and the unvalidated idea that we’ve proven how “right” we are. And….that’s it.
This week, I’ve seen people post pictures of mutilated fetuses and felt like they did something to prevent abortions.
People posted links to biased political publications and sat back, arms crossed, feeling like they’ve proven themselves to the virtual universe.
One of my favorite scenes from the Bible is when King David was told to make a sacrifice on behalf of his people to stop a plague that was killing tens of thousands of Israelites. When he arrived at the threshing floor where the sacrifice was to be made, the man who owned the property presented David with all the supplies to make the sacrifice. But David declined them and paid for the supplies himself, saying, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord that which costs me nothing.”
My friends, with all our well-meaning, self-justified feelings of using social media to make the world a better place, the reality is that most of the time, social media is the “sacrifice” that costs us, and accomplishes, nothing.
So here’s the reality.
If you believe in something, if you feel that injustice is happening on your watch, if you are passionate about how to improve your neighborhood, your country or your world, log off of your social media account and Do. Something.
Make a donation, show up at a rally, spend time with people who are suffering, volunteer at an organization that’s making a tangible difference.
Refuse to be satisfied with hollow, costless gestures.
Realize that the world needs your actions and your generosity and your resources more than it needs your opinions.
Be the loving hands and feet of Jesus to those around you.
Say with David that you won’t give to God, and to the world around you, that which costs you nothing.