Richard Sumner published a posting at his blog about Social Media Christianity. His observations about how Christians and non-Christians interact and communicate with one another on Social media forums is right on. Personally, I have engaged in several different forums where discussions had not been appropriate if conducted in a face to face type situation. The question becomes – how can we change how we interact and communicate with others on social media networks from an authentic Christian lifestyle?
First, we must always remember that it is never personal. Regardless of how someone may challenge our own statements, we ought not to take it personal. We are to be wise and loving in how we respond, even to those who criticize us with personal attacks. Remember, when someone criticizes us for our beliefs, or mock us, it is only because they typically want us to respond in a similar vitriolic manner.
Second, we must understand that most of the time, interacting and communicating with others on social media networks involves a higher level of diplomacy and realization that we are not able to convince someone of their own errors in reasoning or thinking. It is not about having the last word, or about getting our point across. It is about how we are able to respond in an appropriate and healthy manner.
Third, we must be willing to cut off the discussion when it is no longer conducive to engage in that discussion. Regardless of whether we are right or have proven a particular point. The reality is that when we get caught up in the discussion, we tend to get irritated, annoyed, and start arguing with the person or person until we become frustrated, lose energy and then become personal in our form of communication.
Finally, we must understand that the best way to engage in communication online ought to be in the same fashion as we communicate with people in person. Would we allow ourselves to continue having a discussion with someone that engages in name-calling, or mockery? Most likely, we’d rather step away from the conversation and let it be where it is at. Why are we not able to do this online?
In the end, I like how Richard Sumner summed up his thoughts:
I am a member of various Christian communities on Google+ and just seeing how Christians communicate with each other is very upsetting and quite disturbing actually. Yet I bet we are all super polite in church. This is not how it should be. This is not how we should be. I have been very angry, and said some things on social media that I wouldn’t have said to someone face to face, so this is not a reprimand, but more a commitment from me to change within. I am merely inviting all of you to join me! Let’s change ourselves from the inside, ask God to help us become more like Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that next time someone says something (however stupid) on Facebook, we respond in love instead of anger. Then next time we see some comment that upsets us, let’s take a minute to ask God how He wants us to respond. Let’s post that comment instead of just lashing out in anger in the heat of the moment.
How we change our ways in communicating online with other fellow believers and non-believers ought to be more reflective of our desire to be more authentic in our own Christian life. Authentic Christian living includes how we communicate and present ourselves to others – whether it is in person or online through various social media venues. For those who have engaged in such angst and vitriolic conversations do well to check out a wonderful resource about appropriate netiquette when it comes to online communication.
Social media has become an integral part in how we communicate with other people. The question is, how are we going to communicate with others that is reflective of an authentic Christian lifestyle?