Language that incites people to rage will surely get more page views, more likes, more retweets—won’t it? It’s sexier. It causes those who agree with you to raise their fists high, and shout, “YEAH!” while those who disagree feel their heartbeat speed up, shake their heads, and think, “This guy is SO far off his rocker, AND he’s a jerk!” The comment section volleys back and forth between rage about the original statements, and then rage about the angry comments, and in the end, nobody is really heard.
Why do some Christians feed into this? Are we not called to be peacemakers? Have we elevated winning culture wars and online debates above knowing and loving our neighbors?
And, is it possible that we could share our beliefs and still respect those we disagree with? Or must we vilify them in order to get more angry Twitter followers? This incredible technology of the internet has exploded in the last 15 years, and we’re still learning how to rein it in. Will we use it as a place to hold angry picket signs, or as a place to have conversations?
I don’t want to shake my finger at the collective interwebs without confessing that it’s hard for me, too. Like I-have-to-walk-away-from-my-computer-and-look-at-pictures-of-kittens-to-calm-down-right-now kind of hard. I’m sure I’ve said things online in ways that aren’t loving, kind, or respectful. I’ve said things in ways that make people angry. I’ve said things out of judgment. I feel my heartbeat speed up when I read certain things and I quickly get angry about topics I’m passionate about. It happens all the time, guys.
But I have to remind myself that I might be able to learn something from this person I disagree with on X topic. I may have thought through the issue, but I can still listen to her without putting her into a categorical box of “All The People I Disagree With.” And if I want others to listen to me as well, I need to be nice.
Brothers and sisters (and that freckly-faced girl in the mirror), let’s lead the way in peacemaking. Let’s not feed into the divisiveness that weaves its way through Twitter, comment sections, and our news feeds by either responding calmly, or not at all. Let’s avoid labeling people we disagree with and love them instead. Let’s be knowledgeable and speak truth, but be willing to listen humbly and always ready to learn.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree? Do you enjoy engaging in conversations about controversial topics online, or do you avoid them completely? What are some practical ways you avoid tweeting or commenting out of anger?