In the Acts of the Apostles, we revisit the martyrdom of Saint Stephen at the hands of a very perturbed Sanhedrin. In fact, we read that they
“were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.”
Stephen’s crime was in recounting of all the ways they were just like their ancestors in rejecting the holy prophets of God that had come before them.
Even without stones, Christians online get knocked down all the time on social media. It’s not uncommon for an unpopular point of view to result in an account getting restricted, blocked, or removed. Friends and fans unfollow or unfriend feeds. It’s a tough world out there in cyberspace! But even before the posts and tweets get to that point, some of the conversations in social media are brutal. The art of civility just isn’t there.
So how can a Christian post a viewpoint without getting figuratively stoned? Here are 11 suggestions:
- Remember the people behind the keyboard we are writing to, have feelings and thoughts just as vulnerable as our own. Address them in the way you would want to be addressed. This is a modern version of the Golden Rule.
- Choose your battles! If you have to reply to something take a deep breath first and walk away. If you still feel like replying ten minutes later, proceed with extreme caution, and only on a computer or tablet with an actual keyboard. How many wars start over autocorrect, I wonder?
- Write in complete sentences. Clarity is key. Keep the emojis to a minimum. Use your well-thought-out words!
- Focus on being hard on ideas, but soft on people. No name calling or ad hominem attacks! Provide information or observation instead of confrontation.
- Avoid logical fallacies altogether! It’s just poor reasoning.
- Realize that readers come to us from many different places in life and experience. Give slack accordingly.
- Read and re-read your posts and responses. What tone do they exhibit?
- Avoid broad-brush pronouns, especially the mysterious “they.” Surely not all of any group is even aware of what the 14th amendment is, let alone that they should be going after it. If you must use a pronoun at all, say something like “some.”
- Frame an argument like this: “In my opinion, if this happens, then this could occur,” or “Based on my experience, this could happen if this occurs.” It takes you out of the prognostication business and takes that big pointy finger out of the face of a large group of people!
- If you must write something like, “They want to re-engineer Western civilization” have an article, a reference, or something else to link to, so that readers know you’re not just going on a rant, but have actually done some homework and can prove it! In fact, sometimes it’s better to just link to another source and let everyone figure it out for themselves.
- If you dare to enter into a conversation that is 180 degrees from your perspective, sometimes it’s best to just leave with some thought-provoking questions. Sometimes just planting a few seeds for the reader to ponder is enough.
Even with all of that, at this time it seems that sensitivities are high. These tips might keep you safe from attacks and problems, but speaking the truth always comes with risks. St. Stephen, pray for us!
Copyright 2018 Elena LaVictoire