All of the above refer to responses to controversial content posted to social media and blogs. Someone posts a comment that gets disagreement: pushback. A tweet gets demolished in the replies so much so the number of disagreeing replies far exceeds the impact of the original tweet: ratio’d. Someone gives a conversation-ending response to an invariably bad statement: mic drop. A person who says things online he or she would likely never say face-to-face: keyboard commando. The description many would give of social media as a whole: unprofitable.
Even for the best-intentioned social media user, some conversations will be problematic. Add people who get a kick out of trolling or flame-throwing and things can become a dumpster fire. People who do not even know each other hurl insults or challenge each other to duels at dawn.
Maybe not that last one, but stranger things have happened.
How should we handle controversial content or the fires of disagreement? Here are some thoughts:
When inaccurate information is posted in the guise of facts, controversy will likely ensue. Facts are important and getting our information right is important. Address controversy with factual information rather than following falsehood with more falsehood. As a friend of mine used to say, “We can work with the truth, but we can’t do anything with a lie.”
Social media really is not a great place to try and take home the trophy, at least not in every engagement. We should strive to be peacemakers and to bring ideas together for meaningful encounters rather than climbing over everyone in a violent scramble to some ideological summit.
We who are followers of Christ have a responsibility to demonstrate the redemptive presence of Christ in every situation. Social media provides a platform for such efforts. We can speak with grace. We can help people see truth. We can demonstrate the superiority of Christ above all other gods.
Finally, we can learn through controversial content. I am not always right, as much as it hurts to admit it. I make mistakes. I can learn from books and articles, to be sure, but I can also learn from others. I can usually learn something from content that I have a strong disagreement with, content that elicits a variety of strong opinions, or even a person who comes on too strong.
Marty Duren is the Executive Editor and Marketing Manager of LifeWay Pastors and host of the Pastor Talk podcast at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He also serves as the Groups Pastor with Green Hill Church in Mt Juliet, TN.