Social Media and Empathy

“She may have a disorder.”

It was meant to be funny, but they had named the disorder. When a friend read this, they were quite offended.

The friend didn’t comment, but did share later, “they must not know what it’s like to have that disorder, to face these problems every day.”

It was a joke; it was funny. But, it was posted for over 500 friends to see.

How can you know the impact of your words when they are so freely posted for all to see? Any pastor will tell you stories of when they said something from the pulpit they regretted, and those speeches are planned. What power we have to summon the eyes of hundreds while being completely unaware of how our words will be heard.

I was already planning a social media fast when the above story occurred. At the end of the 40 days, I decided I needed to know who I was speaking to when I posted online. I needed a small enough group that I could be mindful of what they were thinking and how my words might impact them.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I said goodbye to Twitter and haven’t looked back (it’s been 2 years). I had 450 friends and determined to limit them to my close relatives and only a handful of friends that were close enough to hold me accountable for what I said. I’m down to 45 (and 5 are in heaven).

I haven’t abandoned my friends. I just relate to them the way I did 10 years ago–in person or my phone. I still have friends, but I no longer have to worry about my impact on people that I barely knew when I actually knew them.

It is strange, and I feel bad when I get those friend requests, but I let them know my number…and ignore the request.

Is this the only way? Of course not. I know of some who use social media well as a platform of encouragement. However, we must all be mindful of our audience and the power of what we say.

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About Michael Yates

I have taught Bible at the Secondary level for 8 years. I have a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Evangel University. I have also been educated as a husband and father by my wife and 3 lovely children. I enjoy reading about political theory and theology. Mostly I have learned that a theologian is one who prays; therefore, I pray for my family, friends, and for you. View all posts by Michael Yates

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