Please, let’s just stop. I’m asking us as a friend. I’m asking us as a fellow Christian. And I’m asking us as a human being; please stop using social media as a place to shame, dishonor, and ridicule people. Our kids deserve better examples from us of what it means to be in this world but not of it. (If you aren’t sure what I mean by “public shaming”, click here)
As I scrolled down through my Facebook feed this morning, as with many mornings, my heart broke as I saw my timeline filled with posts from my fellow brother and sisters in Christ using this platform as a way to express passive-aggressive (and sometimes downright aggressive) disapproval of other people.
Whether it is in regards to politics or just something that somebody is doing that, for whatever reason, we just don’t like, it appears that we feel like social media is an acceptable place to be rude, snarky, sarcastic and just plain mean to each other.
If anyone feels they are being targeted by this, please don’t. I don’t even know who posted some of the things that are coming to mind this morning, but I know I’ve seen things shared multiple times that do not in any way seem to me to reflect the love of Christ, the fellowship of His sufferings, and the testimony of His grace – the things we are supposed to be communicating with the world.
There are better ways, much more productive ways, of channeling disapproval.
If we feel the youth of today are an immodest, misbehaving, selfish, uneducated generation, let’s not post a meme about it… let’s find a way to serve them. Become a mentor. Be part of their community. I know for a fact each local church needs children and youth volunteers (guarantee it – just go and ask). Use that as the platform for change by living a life of true love and sacrifice and modeling how to live product and selfless lives that honor others.
A million memes on Facebook with a snarky comment about how kids can whip and nae-nae but can’t say the Lord’s Prayer will do absolutely nothing but hurt them and others. DO something.Say the Lord’s Prayer for them and then with them as you lead them in love.
If we feel that the political party is wrong about something, let’s recognize that calling the them names on Facebook, making fun of their educational level, lashing out at them in sarcastic and hateful ways, and creating an atmosphere that supports violence and division, will only lead to no good, for us or them. If we really care that much about our party or our candidate, we can share why without having to denigrate others at the same time. We can spend more time on what we consider good and less time using social media to rail against others in rude and inconsiderate ways about what we think is bad.
Listen, before we post, let’s simply consider this: “Would I like someone to say this about me?” If you wouldn’t, then don’t post it! Don’t call people names (that would stop half the posts right there!). Don’t undermine people’s character because they don’t agree with you. Address issues without attacking people.
If we are unhappy with legitimate social issues in society, things that range from concerns about education to society’s addiction to technology, again, let’s actively do something about it. We have influence on actual people; children and youth that are in our churches, our communities, our world. Befriend them. Build a relationship with them.
Let’s bring them the love of Jesus and let our lives model for them what it is to live in the world and not of it. Then when we share our concerns, they may actually be heard, rather than just cause a reaction of shame or anger as social media memes tend to do.
And for the other issues, the ones we just like to get upset about for one reason or another – something rubbed us wrong or we just don’t like the way someone did something – bring it to the right place first; not the public sphere as a reaction to correct those who did wrong, but to the Father in heaven and ask if there is any wicked way in you (Ps. 51).
My daughter will turn 13 this year. She will be old enough for a Facebook account. And I will let her have one because I think I’ve raised her with some character tools that will help her use social media in a healthy way. BUT I would never allow her to use social media as a place to make rude or snarky comments about her friends.
So why is it okay to do that to strangers, or youth, or parents, or Democrats, or Republicans, or random people that we’ve never met? It’s not.
It’s not right to use shame as a tool to make our point.
And if that’s the only tool in our social media belt, could I challenge and encourage us to take some time to really consider what it is that we believe about God, His love for the world and all the people in it, and then think about how we can make lasting changes by serving others rather than shaming them.
I understand that might mean we post some pretty straightforward and thoughtful things on Facebook that share our heart in loving and honorable ways. It might mean we take a direct stand on some issues because that’s what we feel called to do.
But let’s do it with a heart of love and use the tools of grace and humility rather than the weapons of shame and condemnation.
And let’s show our kids that they can do the same when it’s their turn.
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.
Thank you for this reminder of the fact that our social media persona is as influential as our face-to-face persona. Children are watching and so are non-believers. Love opens doors not snarky comments. Bless you.
Thank you for your gracious response and hearing my heart in this post. Blessings!
Hi Christine. I agree with much of what you say. But I also believe there is a place for shame! God create shame like pain as a method of reprimand. I believe we have to be very careful when shaming but at times it can be done. I know almost all my most valuable life lessons have been learnt by feeling shame. I would be teaching our young to accept shame or deny it depending on whether it was valid or not. If you feel shame analyze why and change or see that you didn’t need to feel the shame in the first place. We will never be able to stop shaming we have to learn to deal with it.
Hi Peter, Thank for your thoughts. I’m not sure I can agree with you however that God created shame. According to what I read in Scripture, shame was a result of the fall; the result of choosing to sin. Everything that God created was declared “good” including humanity. Sin led to shame and it was not something that someone else had to conjure up of a person; Adam and Eve felt that shame on their own just by being in the presence of a loving God. You say that your life lessons were taught by feeling shame. I do think that there is a difference between shame and conviction. But even if what you felt was shame, I hope it wasn’t brought about by someone purposefully shaming you and that is what this article is about. If we are posting things on social media that are intended to shame or ridicule others, I simply cannot find a godly reason for doing so. When I share that we need to stop shaming, I mean we need to stop using shame as a tool against people. The tool God has given us to use is love and I think that should be how we approach each situation, even those we have strong feelings of disagreement on.
Thanks for your reply Christina. I will have to disagree with you on shame. Sin yes is something that came about through the disobedience of Man. The feeling of shame because of this I believe is established by God, just as with pain, we do not think of these as good but God uses these for good.
I actually believe that Jesus Himself used shame against the Pharisees and Sadducees when He called them a You brood of vipers in Matthew 7.
I would be interested in your differentiation between shame and conviction.