The Weaponization of Social Media

A friend wrote an email to me: “The weaponization of social media among believers as a manner of dealing with broken relationships or interpersonal conflict (through use of public humiliation, shaming, and one-sidedness) may at times be considered sinful and reflective of spiritual poverty. At a minimum, it offers no vested opportunity in forgiveness, repentance, and growth. Instead, it continues to propel animosity, hatred, anger, anxiety toward someone or something and also provides the seed for others who are pulled in to experience the same negative emotions….without hope of peaceful resolution and movement forward in harmony. If believers are to strive for holiness, then such behavior, without a clear path toward redemption and righteousness (whether or not the offense is real or imagined), is reflective of the possibility of hypocrisy, ill-intent, self-serving rebellious behavior toward God through the means of being validated by other humans, or some combination thereof. Such behavior is at the core of the depravity of humans, and not one human is immune to this condition. This behavior further highlights the need for a Savior….and simply put, should remind us of our depravity and point toward the Cross. … Thank you, that is all.”

These are good foundational thoughts. To me a greater part of the social media sin is (1) Social media (SM) encourages people to splay out in the public arena what should be kept to a small circle of friends. When one feels hurt or wronged, it’s normal and even therapeutic to share that hurt or wrong with a circle of friends who can either support and comfort or give other alternatives as to how to look at a situation or deal with it. But SM blasts the hurt to the world, where it doesn’t belong, creating situations, critiques, and actions that should never be. And therefore, on that basis,  (2) such sharing on SM encourages judgment without relationship and without the facts. This judgment is often one-sided, emotionally- rather than rationally-based, and often grounded in society’s trigger phrases (identity politics, trendy movements, the current offense-of-the-day, etc.).

These two communication faux-pas together create the world as we see it: Angry outbursts of misguided offenses, perpetuating stereotypes, caricatures, and identity-politics reactions, and churning up the destructively intolerant and mostly fascist cancel culture. Social media is a great idea of interconnectedness and positive potential that has morphed into sound bytes of conflict, verbal sniping rather than full consideration of the issues truly involved, and an engine of hate because it’s much easier to be angry on SM where there can be semi-anonymity (I am unknown in some threads I comment on) than it is to be angry when we’re face to face with people and our learned social courtesies kick in.

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