Social media websites can be wonderful tools. We can use them to stay connected to friends and family, offer encouraging posts, share Bible verses, and make people laugh. But social media has a dark side. We need to avoid interactions that not only ruin our mood but can tempt us to sin. Here are some dangers that can pose a risk to our spiritual well-being.
First, online anonymity can lead to a lack of self-control. When we can reprimand or criticize someone with virtually no repercussions, we may be tempted to be condescending or abusive. Numerous studies have proved that people are much more likely to engage in morally questionable behavior online when their identity is obscured or if they cannot see the opposition. There is no anonymity with God, who sees all (Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:13).
Second, we can be quick to judge. When responses are condensed into bite-sized nuggets without any inflection beyond what we can provide with capitalization or an emoji, it can be easy to misinterpret someone else. We might take a joke too seriously. We could wrongly assume that a playful comment was intended as an insult. Sarcasm often comes across poorly. We should be quick to determine a person’s intention rather than being quick to respond (Proverbs 15:18; 19:11; James 1:19).
Third, some people live to irritate others. They enjoy making people angry. Some will intentionally seek out Christians and harass them. This might stem from a simple lack of self-control (see the first point above), but it could indicate a serious personality flaw. To put it in the vernacular, “haters gonna hate.” As bothersome as it may be, we have to remember not to sink to their level (1 Peter 3:9).
Fourth, we cannot die on every hill. Some people comment on dozens of posts and try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats. We all have plenty of opinions, but not all of them are correct. It should come as no surprise that the Bible often commends humility as one of the greatest virtues (Proverbs 22:4; Ephesians 4:2; Micah 6:8; Philippians 2:3).
Lastly, we should resist the temptation to compare ourselves to others. It can be easy to see our friends and online neighbors enjoying success. Someone we know gets a better job, buys a new house, loses ten pounds, or reaches some other milestone in life and the gren-eyed monster begins to arise. We have to guard ourselves against covetousness or perceiving someone else’s joy as either braggadocio or a personal challenge.
The Christian should be equipped with God’s Word to handle all aspects of life. That includes how we conduct ourselves online. Like any other area of life, it will have its share of pitfalls for us to avoid.