Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why I Stopped Hopping on Hashtags

Today is one of those days - the kind where it seems like the whole world is talking about something controversial, politically charged, heartbreaking, game-changing, or all of the above. Today is one of those days - the kind where hashtags are being hopped on, viral articles are being shared, viewpoints are being defended, and devil's advocate costumes are being donned. Today is one of those days - the kind where my heart yearns to say something of significance about a trending message, my soul cries out for Truth to be revealed, my eyes beg to shut out the headlines, my fingers ache to dim the bulbs of enlightenment for just a minute. And yet in this culture of social media activism, this I know: no matter which side I take or what I have to say, any words I hitch to a hashtag will ultimately become nothing more than sound bites in a cesspool. Everyone talks on social media, but does anyone really listen? Can hearts and minds and opposing viewpoints be changed if I craft the perfect counter-sentiment in 140 characters or less? More and more, social media just seems like a bunch of people jumping en masse off the proverbial bridge, silently screaming at each other as thumbs fly across iPhone keyboards all the way into the abyss. More and more, I see that labeling my heart cries with a hashtag only kindles whatever fire I'm trying to extinguish. Social media has given everyone a voice and a platform from which to share it. But in the cacophony of opinions, so often I feel that I've lost both. This thing that was meant for connectivity has turned into a pit of controversy, and we're kidding ourselves if we think much ground is going to be won in a Twitter war. So what do we - those of us who have so much to say, but seemingly nowhere safe to say it - do? Go silent? Delete our accounts? Pay to promote our own beliefs via a social media campaign, then watch in horror as the truths we hold dear are ripped to shreds by hate, vitriol, and a hefty dose of sarcasm? The Bible says the following: "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." (Matthew 7:6) I could get really arrogant and self-righteous by interpreting that verse to mean something like "I'm a pearl and they're all pigs." But y'all, God is so good. Here's what His Word says right before bringing on the bacon: "...how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." I can pour all of my passion into fighting humans on a hashtag, or I can give that passion (that angst, that righteous anger, that fill-in-the-blank) to my Heavenly Father and ask Him to equip me - despite my brokenness, my hypocrisy, and my plank eye - to love the humans who agree with me and the humans who don't in the same way that He has loved me. I can also get on my knees in prayer and ask for walls to come down. I can ask for veils to be torn. I can ask for eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to know, minds to understand. Most importantly, I can have peace in the knowledge that I don't have to fight any battles - social media or otherwise - like a rogue soldier, all on my own. My message is His inerrant Truth and perfect Love; my platform is my salvation story and continual experience of the Lord's grace. Those are my words that matter; that is my safe place from which to share them. "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth." (Psalm 47, NIV)

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