One of my favorite sports commentators, who used to be one of the most quotable coaches in the NFL, is Herman Edwards. He is always entertaining, even when he is not right in his sports analysis.
What makes him great at his new job is that he offers great life advice along with his sports evaluations. And one of the best pieces of advice that he gives is this: Don’t hit send!
I have a “love/hate” relationship with social media. It can be a great source of information, a way to stay connected, to reconnect with old friends and family, and to just have some fun. But like so many things, it has become a source of gossip, MIS-information, and generally bad manners that makes the backyard gossip fence and telephone line look pale.
I am sick and tired of people hiding behind their computer screens while they threaten and cuss out those with whom they disagree. The name-calling on Twitter makes the playground look like a manners class. What’s worse is that this happens about SPORTS as much as anything. Why do we feel the need to verbally “spit” on some guy who gets paid by ESPN just to get attention?
The politics and religion discussions are just as bad. But at least those are somewhat important in the general scheme of things. Even still, it is stunning to me that so many CHRISTIANS will engage in so much anger and rage, right there for everyone in the computer world to see.
In an equally damaging development, Christians will often post links/stories/information before checking to see if the information is in any way accurate. No matter how many resources we have, we still engage in rumors and falsehoods, supposedly in the name of advancing the cause of Christ.
A few months ago, a fellow Christian that I had known for some time cursed me, threatened me, called me a heretic via twitter. This is all because I disagreed with his perspectives on public schools. The disagreement is really not relevant, because there was no hope of dialogue or discussion on the matter.
I disagreed with him, so that automatically made me an idiot. Funny thing was that I offered to meet with him at ANY time to discuss the issue. I offered to drive to Atlanta where he lives and get together. I offered him my phone number to call me. But it seems that it was a lot easier to post insults on twitter and facebook before I finally hit the old “unfriend” button.
I hope that most of these “facebook fights” and “twitter tiffs” don’t go to that level. But I suspect that we offend more than we intend, and spread half-truths, misleading info, or just plain false information because we hit “send” before we think.
The computer has given us the “courage” to talk big and tough because we never have to look anyone in the eye. Everyone is a hero on the keyboard, but we have abandon the ability to speak or connect with thoughtful reflection, or even with any semblance of civilized humanity.
The problem is that Christians do not have that luxury. Christ’s commands to be loving, compassionate, thoughtful and truthful are still relevant, even in the age of the Twitterverse. Perhaps those commands are even more relevant today, because it’s become so easy to insult people with the push of a button.
Our moms use to tell us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
We need to add the Herm Edwards Commandment to that. If you don’t have anything nice–or truthful, or productive, or fact-checked–to say, then don’t hit send.