I was miffed. I had just gotten off the phone with my daughter and I was miffed.
Not at my daughter, mind you, but at the person, who at the time was in charge of her, and had offered to count something as done that was not complete. To lie.
Yes, I was miffed at her.
And in the next ten minutes I was miffed at myself...because the thought crossed my mind to go on social media and rant about this. To let other people know about this situation "so they could avoid putting their kid in this program." To air my grievances so that my friends could rally to my side and affirm my position.
Thankfully, that thought died in infancy. But it did cause me to ponder the state of our hearts...and our typing fingers...at this point in history. Why do we feel the urge to automatically relay all our experiences on social media? Good and bad? To bolster our opinions - and our egos - by soliciting agreement (or at least visibility) from distant audiences.
How often do we "just put it out there" without considering whether it's a good idea or not? And how often do we take as fact something that we read on Facebook - without even checking to see if it's true - and then form an opinion on it, react with glee or rage (depending on if said fact supports our position or not), and then pass along that tidbit as though it were established TRUTH. I've counseled my own Mom a zillion times - "Just because it's on FB does NOT mean it's true" - something that is difficult to grasp for one from the Walter Cronkite era, where one took seriously the responsibility of communicating truth. Those of us who have spent much of our lives in the social media era know better than to accept as facts whatever comes through TV, our computer, or our phone. At least we should know better.
Here are three things I considered as I pondered the sharing of my displeasure with the world of social media...
1. Did I know the whole story? Scripture exhorts us to get the whole story before we jump to a conclusion - He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13
Lots of times, our conclusion would be different if we had all the facts. In the situation I described above, I paused before acting out of irritation because maybe, just maybe, there were unknown facts that would mitigate my consternation. I knew it would be a good idea to gather those first. (For the record, it turns out the circumstances did NOT change my displeasure this time but it was still right for me to listen first and then give an answer!)
So I urge us all - before we post or tweet or make that phone call, let's get the facts first. Listen first, answer later. And only answer when necessary - sometimes we just need to be quiet. And on that note...
2. Do I need to share it? When I have a bad customer service experience or am ticked off about some mistreatment, do I really need to share it with the world?
God counsels us this way
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15
Sometimes we get mistreated. We just do. And we hurt.
What are we to do in those times?
I suggest that we are NOT to air it all on Facebook!
Instead, we need to hit the pause button and think for a moment. Is this something I can let go? Just overlook and get past it?
Proverbs 19:11 encourages us to do just that - The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression
To not be so touchy. To not let all sorts of things tick us off. Slow to answer. Overlook an offense. Oftentimes, that is exactly what is called for.
Other times, we need another course of action. (And always, we need divine wisdom to know which time calls for what!)
When we need to respond to the problem instead of overlooking it, we should heed the instruction in the Gospel of Matthew and go directly to the offender. Deal with him/her alone instead of making the problem worse by tearing him/her down to others. Not only does it make the problem itself worse, it will also not make you feel better in the long run. (I know it might in the short run but let's think longer term, OK? :) )
In the process of deciding whether to overlook the offense or approach the offender, let's consider...
3. Will it serve a beneficial purpose?
Will my sharing about this situation be beneficial, or "edifying", as Ephesians 4:29 puts it:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Not too long ago, I had a really bad experience with a company. I mean really bad. That happens sometimes, ya know. People make mistakes or they don't do their job properly or whatever. Sometimes, in spite of all our expectations and all that should be required of people, we just get stinky service. It's wrong and it shouldn't be so, but, face it - it happens.
What are we going to do about it?
In this case, the thought crossed my mind to post some pithy (sarcastic) comment, knowing lots of other people had experienced the same thing with this company and would delight in adding affirming comments, share their own bad stories, and join my gripe session.
I paused. I have friends who work for this company, lots of whom are on FB. These are good people and my gut tells me they probably do a very good job. How would my post make them feel? Even though they were not responsible for my experience, how would they feel to see me publicly criticize their place of employment? Those companies may be "faceless institutions" to us when we blast them on social media, but to those who earn their living there, they are not.
I considered my friends. And their feelings. And the feelings of their children, who are also on FB and who want to be proud of and loyal to their parents. Knowing how it felt to be on the other side, I am glad I considered my friends. They would likely see my comments but they were not in a position to fix the problem. They were not the problem, so why would I be telling it to them??? (see point #2) And it would definitely not be edifying - people would be torn down, not built up, by the sharing of these words!
SO I didn't post anything. I let it go. And I am glad I did.
Side note: I don't mean to imply that everything we say is all sunshine and roses. Notice the verse says "as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment" - sometimes the moment calls for difficult truth to be shared...but the key thing to remember is "as is good for edification" -- will the sharing of these words benefit the hearer? Do I have his/her highest good in mind as my purpose for sharing?
Friends, let's be careful, responsible, and most of all loving, when we take to the air waves of social media. (and with our sound waves, too, of course!) Keep these thoughts in mind.