Think Before You Tweet
We live in strange times. For some, Twitter has become a source for Absolute Truths and journalism is seen as a seedbed of falsities. What’s more, I bet you can name someone for whom the opposite is the case. We’ve grown accustomed to this “digital age” where more words, ideas, and stories zip around and through us faster than ever. As with most technological revolutions, there are pros and cons. Alarmists are quick to point out the negative social and communal impact of digital technology and social media. I’m not here to engage that debate. What interests me more is people, like Zunyep Tufecki, who points out that digital technology and social media haven’t inherently changed the nature of human communication, but only have amplified healthy and unhealthy ways we’re prone to communicate.
In this past Sunday’s sermon, Cory led us into a conversation in Deuteronomy 19.15-21 about the power of words and the work it takes to use them healthily. Just because the Israelites were on a trajectory from oppression to liberation, from deconstruction to reconstruction, didn’t mean that their own oppressive habits and thoughts were going to magically change. The Promise Land itself didn’t guarantee profound ethical and spiritual transformation. They still needed to do the inner and outer work of finding healing, maturity, and transformation for their community and to bear witness to a healthier way to be human.
The same goes for us on this spiritual/human journey searching for a better Way. Just because we’ve done or are doing the work of deconstruction doesn’t mean reconstruction will happen automatically; it doesn’t mean that we’ll avoid petty arguments, talk shit about someone behind their backs, or overcome confirmation bias. How we use our words is crucial for the process of maturity. God knew that for the Israelites, and God knows it for Her people today.
It think it’s generally human to talk before thinking, and social media has only made that spillage easier and faster to do. Like a child too young to process and articulate her complex emotions, we just let it explode or spill out. In the same way God was carving out spaces and practices for the Israelites to handle their words carefully, we need to carve out space in our lives to practice mindfulness with our words. Harking back to a few blogs back, if there is pain in our lives we haven’t transformed, we will transmit it through our words. If we don’t take the time to H.A.L.T as twelve step communities teach us, we’ll lash out or burn bridges with our words, never achieving the healing we know we really need.
I’m not trying to front -- this is hard work -- easier said than done. But we can start by carving out those spaces in our lives to HALT and check-in on how we’re doing. Maybe that’ll help us think twice before hitting that enter button or care for a person instead of (only) critique the problem.