By now, the raucous back-and-forth bickering on social media about Gillette’s “Toxic Masculinity” commercial has subsided. Yet the raucous back-and-forth online bickering continues apace.
There is something in Twitter and other forms of social media that has given added opportunities to a toxic side of humanity. A toxic side that not only believes the worst about other people, but one that brings out the worst in people. And I think I know, as least partly, why that is.
The Book of Proverbs, which is a study in wisdom and human nature, says “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Prov. 29:11). Another translation says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”
Very few on social media are holding anything back these days. With smartphone technology and nearly universal Internet connectivity at our constant disposal, self-control is really the only thing standing in the way between people uttering their mind.
Many people—myself included—utter our minds with words, reactions, tweets, shares, likes, photos and videos. The instantaneous nature of it all leads toward making problems worse. Christians, in particular, need to do better in this area.
To that end, here are a few ideas are:
Repeal and replace: When tempted to post, turn that impulse into your cue to pray instead of post.
Wait. When tempted to immediately chime in, wait at least an hour. See if mere delay will give you more perspective.
Focus elsewhere. The social media world draws us in and draws us away from the things going on immediately around us. To avoid becoming toxic, focus on the here and now and the people around you.
In the end, the methods for bettering our technologically-driven toxic side of humanity will not be easy. But it will be worth it.