Facebook friends, and all social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube and the host of millions more out there today, have brought value to our lives. I've reconnected with too many high school buddies than I care to count, and that's a good thing no doubt.
However, after jumping into someone else's rant about a topic, have you ever felt like you just wasted 15 minutes of your life when you should have just left it alone? I have. More times than I care to count.
The Scriptures say, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion …” 1 Timothy 1:6
Facebook Friends And Exchange Of Ideas
Social media is just that: social. It’s supposed to be about a free exchange of life, and sometimes, it is an exchange of ideas. There's also times when I've seen my Facebook Friends walk away from a "friendship" because I didn't agree.
I’ve learned something about social media in terms of dealing with people with an entirely different world-view than what I hold. Often I’ll feel compelled to dispel a myth, correct an inaccuracy in a political opinion, that type of thing. You know, because I'm an authority, even if in my own mind. What I’ve discovered is that in most cases where I disagree, my rebuttal was often time wasted, for it never ends well.
Why Do We Find Ourselves Frustrated With Facebook Friends?
I think the answer to that is simple: most of them aren't friends at all.
They are friends of a friend (at best). In most cases, they are just followers of a friend who knew your friend and they ended up being a friend on your site.
Which means we really don't know them, but yet we felt compelled to disagree with them; and when you disagree with strangers, in a forum where they don't know you and live hundreds if not thousands of miles away, then people are more willing to say about anything because there's little cost involved in it.
When it comes to disagreeing with Facebook friends or Twitter followers, people often use social media to just make blanket statements that they'd never make face to face. It's like a Batman punch; a digital version of ...
BLAM. ZING. POW.
Here's my opinion. I'm right. You're wrong. Deal with it!
If I disagree with someone on Twitter, then the risk of me running into that person at Wal-Mart tomorrow is about the same as me winning the lottery. It ain't gonna happen. Therefore, I feel freedom to unleash at will my jaded self.
In the verse above Paul instructs Timothy, a young guy trending toward the pastoral fraternity, that the goal of instruction is love, good conscience, and sincere faith. Many opposing Paul in that day were basing their assertions of life, as well as their views about God, on cultural trends. Paul tells Timothy to stay away from fruitless discussion, for it never pays off, and you only leave angry.
The Hard Part. For Me Anyway.
The hard part, at least for me anyway, is in knowing what’s fruitless and what isn’t. I can tell you this, every time I've ever tried to have a civil exchange with people in a conversation on Twitter, it often gets ugly. Quick.
God wants us, in fact, He calls us to speak truth into a world that often no longer recognizes it. Just think through your time, and more importantly, your motive, before you hit "share."
I know that when I ask myself, "Do I really need to respond jump into that conversation?" more often than not the answer is, "No."
Bear fruit with your discussions; and, if you find a way that works well, let me know. I can always use the help!
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker.
He's the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.