People are shorter on patience and quicker to resentment and anger to the point of retaliation. The post on a public Facebook group was just that: an angry man who resented someone for parking crookedly and wanted to zip tie a shopping cart to their door.
He compared it to causes such as women’s rights or civil rights. It wasn’t a joke. His language and overall attitude were serious. Most people would have ignored the post (or reported him to the police), but I used social media to try to bridge the gap and find out what was really wrong. Instead of using social media to be negative, I tried to be compassionate. This is what social networking should resemble.
Businesses, non-profits, and even churches use social networking mostly as a way to market their brand or vision. As a writer, I (and others) recognized how short-sighted Christians were in this field. When our focus is only on the brand, we forget the people.
In a business article recently, I read about how customers want a relationship with the business through social networking. The catch phrase is, relationship. As Christians, we have a large presence online, but its overall impression is that each church or non-profit is separate and competing rather than an impression of unity in Christ.
I know what goes on behind the scenes. There’s more unity than most people understand. People believe impressions. That’s why reputations online are shredded in minutes when a video goes viral that doesn’t tell the whole story. Or when people bad mouth their church, it joins with other voices bad mouthing church, creating another impression.
How we respond online makes a difference, but not everyone will be satisfied. Even if you are polite and kind, non-believers still think Christians are “yes” people. Love means something different to the secular group. If we don’t give in to everything, we aren’t “loving” enough.
Most people wouldn’t do, out of love, what Jesus did for us. He knew when to turn the cheek and when to speak the truth. God help us as we navigate this world.
My only regret in the above mentioned conversation is that the post was quickly deleted. I had hoped the angry man would have seen my request for him to email me. Maybe we could have gone deeper into what was really wrong.
Social Media Tip: Look for a Facebook group for your town or city or neighborhood. Join it. It’s the modern version of neighborhood get-togethers.