The Facebook Trap. Have you ever heard of it? Worse yet, have you ever actually been there? Let me explain – and if you mean to tell me that you’ve never been here, then don’t worry, your time is coming. This happens when you’re sitting around, scrolling through your newsfeed, and then you see it. And by it, I mean that post someone shared to Facebook that you totally do NOT agree with. Now, it’s not necessarily something important. Rather, it’s a political opinion or a despising remark against your favorite TV show. Now obviously, you feel compelled to give your own opinion about why they’re wrong and stupid enough to even think such a thing. Once you send the comment you forget all about it, at least until said person replies to tell you why they think you’re the senseless one here and not them. Filled with rage, you retort back to them. This goes back and forth, and before you know it you’re in way too deep.
Sounding familiar yet? I thought so. Before you panic and wonder how I could possibly know this, you should know that you’re not alone in your struggle. Temptations like this go all the way back to the beginning of time when man and woman brought sin into the world. It can be so easy when faced with any sort of opposing thought or opinion, whether it be online or in person, to give our own two cents; after all, we love being right, and we love even more when the other person is wrong. This makes it very tempting to pick pointless arguments with people. On the other hand, it is just as tempting to re-engage when the other person does the same. But what’s the big deal? Is one cheeky comment really going to do any harm?
Well, that depends. Before we go on, however, it’s important that you know that this is not just a social media issue. In fact, Paul addressed this in Galatians 5:15, which says:
“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (ESV)
Woah. That’s intense. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that none of us are cannibals. What does this have to do with what we’re talking about?
I am so glad you asked.
Let’s go back to our previous illustration. You’re scrolling through your Facebook, and you see that post. You debate whether it’s really worth leaving a comment, but of course, you feel you have no choice but to chime in. You click send and then think nothing of it, that is until you get a reply. Of course, you still disagree with the person, and even if they were to make a good point, you wouldn’t even think of letting them be right. Obviously, you are going to reply, except this time, with a bit more sass, just to get the point across. The problem with this cycle is that it has a tendency to just keep going until before you know it, you and this other person have wasted four hours of your day on this pointless debate that could possibly have damaged an otherwise good relationship.
Do you see the problem here? We, as a society, have become so obsessed with tearing each other down for the sole purpose of glorifying ourselves that it has literally consumed us, especially with today’s technology making it so easy. It takes up precious thought, time, and energy that we could have just as easily invested into something productive. Instead of filling our minds with thoughts of love and compassion, we are set on attacking other people.
You’ve probably figured out by now that biting and devouring one another was not meant in a literal sense. It simply refers to the way we act towards one another. Although this might sound easy enough, if we really stop and listen to what comes out of our mouths, we realize that it just may be harder than we thought. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve caught myself saying something that I later regretted. For instance, one of my weaknesses is sarcasm. It can sometimes take all my willpower not to slip up and say something I know I’ll regret.
Let’s take a look at Proverbs 12:18, which says:
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (ESV)
The way that we talk or act can be very impacting. I cannot emphasize that enough. And I don’t just mean that about other people. I mean the words the come out of your mouth can have an impact on you as well. You may have only made that snarky comment once, but then you make a similar remark the next day, and the next day, and before you even realize it, such ridicule has taken over your every-day vocabulary.
How does Scripture say to deal with this?
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV)
I have a challenge for you. Take a day, and just… listen. Listen to the things you say and the ways you act. Just listen. Try to notice your speaking pattern and ask yourself, are the words I’m saying tearing down other people or lifting them up? Is the way I’m acting encouraging others or burdensome? I think that the answers may surprise you.
You see, our God is a God of love and compassion, and as godly, Christian people, isn’t it our duty to portray Him? If we are constantly allowing our desire, our sinful human nature to consume us, then are we really acting any different from the non-believer?
Now, I know that we all mess up sometimes, but I truly believe that once we start building one another up and being a living example of love, it will not only be beneficial for us, but also for those around us. It breaks my heart to watch the people that God created, to be a living example of his love, tearing each other down on a regular basis. If we were to stop attacking the people that God placed around us, imagine what a better place the world would be! Our God is a God of grace and compassion, and it is our duty as His children to act as His representatives.