Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced the social media giant will soon unveil a thumbs down option for users who want to “dislike” a post.
It is reported that this will be used to show disappointment or disapproval to something. For example, “Michelle was just in a car wreck. Please pray.” Up until now, all we could do is comment, share or “like this.” We, of course, like to pray but don’t like the car wreck.
Adding to this, some (including me) believe that while this feature makes sense, it will unavoidably pour gasoline on the fire of already emotionally-charged Facebook conversations about important things like politics and faith.
People will possibly become obsessed with how many “likes” vs. “dislikes” they get, with each passing photo, post, comment. This could lead to an even more combative online environment.
Think of it. How often, through mere posts and linking to articles, are we able to persuade someone to change their position on the issue? Not very often I’d assume.
Consider this analogy. Here in Oklahoma, you’re usually either a big Oklahoma State Cowboys fan or an OU Sooners fan. Rarely do the two agree, and the differences are even more pronounced during the rivalry Bedlam game.
How easy would it be for an OSU fan to turn into an OU fan, by provocative posts and drive-by comments on Facebook? Or vice versa. Not very easy, I contend.
In the same way, when talking faith and politics, it is very difficult to persuade someone to move even an inch our way. Knowing that, I have three suggestions:
- Have realistic expectations. I get the sense that some Christians think if they are posting a verse, talking about Jesus or sharing something from a pastor, they have done their duty of personal evangelism. We believe, instead, that social media is one of many ways we engage people in conversation. Let’s never assume that by social media alone we will “win them into the Kingdom,” kicking and screaming. Let’s instead lean on God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, as we have a faithful presence online.
- Don’t unnecessarily offend. “reach people rather than repel” them with your personal opinions.
- Concern yourself with tone as much as content. Going back to sports, it is often the attitude of fans that make us like or dislike a team. The same is true about the Church. People run into obnoxious Christians and assume everyone in the Church is like that. When posting online, consider not just what you say but how you say it.
In summary, social media is one giant social experiment, and we are all still learning how it goes. Let’s “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry” (James 1:19), on Facebook. And that approach will be something almost anybody can like.