The advent of social media has brought us tiny specs of humanity the ability to express our very personal thoughts and opinions and have them transmitted around the world in mere seconds. On the other side of that same coin, it has become our expectation, perhaps even a right, that we receive information as soon as it’s uttered, wherever it’s uttered, anywhere around the world. These tremendous leaps in science and technology that continue to catapult us forward have brought to light some very revealing issues about the culture in which we live. Issues that I believe we as Christians need to recognize and respond to appropriately.
When Facebook first became popular I remember signing on to my page and seeing that nagging question at the top…”What are you doing?” I remember thinking to myself, “If I don’t care what I’m doing right now, why would I expect anyone else to care?” Although I am still not a frequent post-er to Facebook, it didn’t take me long to suddenly find great value in the events of my rather ordinary, everyday life that were worthy of posting. I want to point out however that the events of my life didn’t change – my opinion of them did. This very subtle shift is one of the cultural issues that I think social media has brought to light. In a word, it’s pride. Now I am not condemning anyone who uses Facebook or social media as prideful. If I was I would be pointing a finger squarely at myself and throwing in some hypocrisy for good measure! (After all I am posting this blog on Facebook!) I only want to make the point that this remarkable tool of communication can create a very subtle but dangerous atmosphere of self-importance.
I believe it is this very subtle shift in our mentality that is at the root of the polarization we are seeing in our Country today. Whether it’s the Occupy Movement, Trayvon Martin, Chik-Fil-A, or the upcoming Presidential Election, our Country is almost daily being polarized by the expression of someone’s opinion. But why? Are these disagreements among Americans something new? Of course not!
Our Country was founded on the basis that each of us has the freedom to have and express our own opinion. We don’t agree on every issue and that’s what makes America great. So, what has changed? Again, I express it in that one word… pride. It seems to me that we are no longer comfortable with merely agreeing to disagree. We instead, go on the offensive, rally our friends and those who agree with us to take action, defend our cause at any cost… protest… boycott… demonstrate… etc. “How dare someone have the audacity to disagree with us!” Since when did one American’s opinion hold more value than another’s? Since when was an expression of an opinion a call to battle?
Taking a stand for what we believe in is as American as apple pie. Just as this is not a criticism of social media, it is also not a criticism taking a stand and defending what is right. It is merely a reminder of how we as Christians are to appropriately respond to the polarization that continues to make its appearance on our cultural landscape. Our call above all is to love. To love is to value our fellow Americans even though we may adamantly disagree with them. To love is to stand up for what is right and for the character of God so that the world may see who He is in us and come to know Him because of what they see. Taking a stand is not the problem… it is the way in which we do it.
There is one more issue that I see social media bring to light and that is the ravenous appetite of our culture for truth. We may call it “information,” or “news,” or in some cases, “connection.” But the bottom line is we expect to read in seconds what has just transpired half way around the globe. We’re permanently attached to our phones, our computers, and whatever the device-du-jour. But what I believe lies under all of this is the craving for TRUTH. We have seen over the years how our culture has made truth relative. “What’s true for you may not be true for me.” We are seeing the “fruit” of that relativity. Because so many deny that there can be one single source of truth they forage and fight for any morsel that has even the slightest appearance of truth.
I read yesterday (on my cell phone) a news story about a man who posted on Facebook a complaint against an airline for what he thought was mistreatment of another passenger. The airline received so many complaints from this one man’s post that they were forced to publicly defend themselves. One person witnessed what he believed was mistreatment. That caused others (who were not there) to draw the conclusion that he must have been speaking the truth and therefore they needed to respond to defend that truth. When the airline gave their response, their side of the story appeared to be just as truthful as the man’s. So who was telling the truth? Frankly, I don’t know. But do you see how polarizing that ravenous appetite for truth becomes??? We see it time and time again as news stories skip across our screens and bombard us… more and more of them demanding us to take a side.
It is no coincidence that the first piece of spiritual armor that Paul instructs us to put on is the “belt of truth.” (Ephesians 6:10-18) Amidst the culture we live in today, we as believers know there is ONLY ONE TRUTH and it is Jesus Christ! The world around us may say there is no such thing. They may call us arrogant in our claim that there is. But they are hungry for it. They are looking for it everywhere and they are battling vehemently to cling to the scraps that they find. Our job as Christians is to show them where they can finally be satisfied, where their appetite and thirst can finally be quenched. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) If we know the Truth and He has set us free, we must share Him with others so that they too can know it. We must not get swept up in the world’s cravings. If we have Christ, we have the Truth and we must stand on it firmly and reflect Him to others.
This is just one woman’s opinion, no more valuable than any of my other fellow Americans… and it is posted on Facebook. 🙂