I have this distinct memory as a child of craft time during vacation Bible school. Every summer I had two weeks of the summer camp. One would be at my church, the other would be at my grandparents’. The one craft that sticks with me was when I was visiting my grandparents. We painted little wooden hearts red, attached a little flower, and then added a printed Bible verse.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
My grandmother would be disappointed to know that there are few Bible verses that I can actually recall. I know what is written, but I cannot recite many verses. The Golden Rule is one that I have certainly never forgotten. Maybe part of that is because the little painted heart I made at Bible school that year still graces my mom’s refrigerator decades later. Or maybe it is simply the factor that they are words that I try to live my life by.
For me the Golden Rule, as that scripture is often referred to as, goes beyond any religious connotation. To me those words are simply important on a human level. Can you imagine for just one moment, if we all treated everyone else the way we want to be treated? If we only said words that we would want to hear? This world would be a very different place.
It is because of that that I have a serious love/hate relationship with social media. It is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with my friends and family around the world. I have been able to reestablish ties with friends who I long ago lost contact with, plus the fact that I work in news means there are many “see you laters” shared with friends. As wonderful as social media can be for that — and for sharing ideas and tips — it can also be toxic.
Politics have certainly taken center stage on social media. Far right and far left views have led way to viscous attacks, sometimes against family and close friends. Often times it appears that instead of having a discussion, which I encourage, it is about anger and hatred. I will fully admit that I have unfollowed some friends on Facebook — and muted others on Twitter — because of the blatant hatred being spewed against anyone that disagrees with their beliefs.
It goes beyond politics, though. Social media has allowed people into our lives. It gives them the opportunity to weigh in on every aspect of our being, to criticize anything that we don’t agree with – and often times not in the nicest of ways. People feel like they have the right to object our viewpoints, condemn the way we raise or children or even pets, and insult our looks. It is no wonder that cyber bullying is such an issue among teens when they see adults doing the exact same thing.
I often wonder if the people dishing out the insults would give the same disparagement if face-to-face with the person? It’s certainly easier to spout off behind a computer screen. It is like that screen takes away the filter that most people of in public lives. Suddenly, because they don’t have to look the person in the eye, everything is fair game and their filter comes off. They forget that on the other side of that screen is a real human being. They do not see the pain that they inflict, so it is almost a “victim-less crime”.
Maybe it is time for a filter to be applied to more than just our online pictures. My friend, Dave Willis, published a book last year titled “7 Laws Of Love“. In it he shares a lesson that he deems important in marriage, and it is a similar lesson that he and his wife have taught their children — TKN. Before speaking consider: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Imagine if we all asked ourselves those questions before making a social media post or even commenting on a post. I guarantee many of us – even if we do not realize it – ask ourselves those questions when in face-to-face situations. For some of us – I know for me personally – the last thing we want is to see the pain in someone’s eyes caused by hurtful words.
I encourage you to think about your words, and apply a filter where needed. Life is hard; we are all doing the best we can. It could be a little easier if we had more compassion. If we did like the Golden Rule says and treat others the way we want to be treated.