Have you ever been burned by unkind or even vicious words? Many of us have been made fun of directly to our faces or have been the victim of the rumor mill. And try as we might to forget them, malicious words tend to stick with us.
I can still remember way back in seventh grade when a bully came up to me and taunted me for being so skinny. To a word, I remember exactly what he said. And I remember exactly how I felt as he spewed out his venom. Words are powerful.
Social media makes it easier than ever to be nasty to people, especially those of a different political persuasion. A few years ago I heard political commentator and author Greg Gutfeld say, “ You will never be the best version of yourself on Twitter,” and I have to say judging by so many Tweets, I agree. When we’re physically distanced from the person we’re posting about, it’s tempting to write something far worse than what we may have said in person.
So what can we do?
How to Combat Rampant Negativity
- Refuse to contribute to the hate. As we post and state our opinions, let’s do so in a respectful way with more fact-filled words than runaway emotions. Pray about what we’re about to send reverberating out in social media land for all to read or hear: “Lord, should I hit send on this? Is it something that will contribute in a positive way or is it just more negative noise?”
- Evaluate the impact. Sometimes we do need to draw peoples’ attention to a critical issue, stand up for truth, and make our voices heard. But more than once I have deleted something I was about to hit “send” on when God showed me my venting wasn’t really going to do anyone any good. We need lots of godly wisdom to tread the thin line we’re all teetering on in this day and age.
- Decide your purpose. For myself, I have tried to stay away from inflammatory posting because in this season of my life, that doesn’t align with my calling, which is to bring people close to God for healing of body, soul, and spirt. I try to run everything through that filter. Figure out your purpose and stick to it. Some of you may be called to political posting, but be the example that does it in a respectful way while making your point.
- Be guided by God’s word. The following scripture is a good yardstick to use as we judge the power of our words in our minds and on the internet:
Finally, [a]believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Philippians 4:8
If our words live up to the standards of this verse, we can be confident in sharing them.
How Do You Temper Your Words?
Let me know what you think and use as a guideline or filter before speaking up or out. I’d love to hear from you! To see the other two posts (body and spirit) in our “Hot” series for the month of July, see Bring the Sweat: Can Hot Be Good and Fan Into Flames.