Abortion. Divorce. Homosexuality. Poverty.
When you have a bunch of Christians in your Facebook news feed, you end up being privy to numerous, unsolicited discussions about explosive issues.
Maybe it’s a meme or quote image about abortion or commentary on a current event, sometimes one can’t help posting an assertive update about a divisive topic.
From there it takes off into a drawn out conceptual discussion from a bunch of different Christians—many of which speak strongly and definitively. Eight out of ten times it devolves into an argument.
Here are some things you might want to think about next time you want to post your religious opinion (and for the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re right) on Facebook.
These issues are not theoretical
I get that these issues might be important to you, but they represent more than ideas and concepts. For many people they represent a real, living hell full of sadness, regret, and deep wounds.
As these discussion turn sour and judgmental, as the nearly always do, there are people reading the exchange and grieving.
The problem is that you cannot necessarily know who’s seeing your update, even if they’re not commenting. And what feels like an important, conceptual discussion is tearing the scab off someone else’s wounds.
I brought this up recently in a similar thread and was rebuked by someone who condescendingly said, “I keep forgetting about the 11th commandment, ‘Thou shalt not hurt anyone’s feelings.'”
But this isn’t about “not hurting feelings.” It’s about not doing more damage to damaged people.
Are you just communicating that you’re unsafe?
Many, if not most, of your Facebook friends have had experiences, tragedies, and moral failures that you know nothing about. Their healing isn’t contingent upon confronted with “the truth.”
Most of the time they’re more aware of their failures than you are. They might not feel forgivable or valued, and part of their restoration requires relationships with people they can trust.
You might have the best intentions when you post that fetus picture with the strongly worded abortion message, but what does it say to the friend that you didn’t even know aborted their child? You might not intend it, but maybe you’re reinforcing their shame. Maybe you’ve sent them into hiding when they would have been willing to open up to you.
Or worse yet, what happens when that obnoxious guy from church drops words like “baby killer” in your update? Now to them, you’re guilty by association.
Or when you post your disgust about some celebrity’s “sin.” You communicate something significant to the people who may be guilty of the same failure. Your disfavor towards this faceless celebrity is internalized by them as commentary on them.
“I’m just trying to stand up for the truth”
Yeah, I get it. You’re passionate about this issue, and whatever your stance is, you’re confident you’re right—Scripture is squarely on your side. So, what’s your end game?
We forget that Facebook is a public venue. Sure, you can post your opinions and get a lot of kudos from people that agree with you. There might be a couple strong-willed people who are willing to bicker with you.
But most of the people you alienate will never say a word.
It’s sad, because what you do imperfectly by shouting your opinions onto people’s walls, could be done better by building relationships.
Facebook’s weaknesses make sharing potentially divisive material a huge gamble. Too much important information and interpretation is left to imagination.
Sometimes what you gain isn’t worth the loss.