In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet the opening scene of act 3 begins with these words, “To be or not to be, that is the question?” I would like to play with this a bit and say the question for many now should be “To tweet or not to tweet?” With all the electronic devices available to us in the digital world we live in it is far too easy to get away with being completely out of control with our words.
“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” James 2:7-8. I think we can change the word tongue to thumb for purposes of getting my point across. The thumb is restless and full of deadly poison. Today people get on their twitter pages and let their thumbs do all the talking. They malign people viciously with words that they can type out without seeing their victim.
This digital world we live in will never leave. We are here right in the middle of it in 2017 and technology is only going to find more ways for us to communicate electronically. Technology is an amazing tool if it is used with integrity. We can communicate quickly, we can inform others of emergency situations in an efficient manner, get a text message to a friend, or make a video that goes viral. But we also can bring great harm to someone by simply typing some words on our phones, tablets, or laptops and hitting send.
We used to teach people how to treat other people, to be kind and treat them the same way you would like to be treated. We taught people to be respectful to those around you in your daily life. Say please, thank you, yes ma’am and no sir but today the culture of social media has unleashed an epidemic of malicious words that will have a digital life forever. People feel comfortable spewing on twitter or Facebook with no accountability.
When I was a young girl we used to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” So untrue! I say it this way, “Sticks and stones may break my bones and YES your words can hurt me.”
Each of us has said something we cannot take back. I have been corrected for saying something unknowingly that offended someone. I have had to be more conscious of how I say things in order not to cause harm but today there seems to be no boundaries. We have a culture of poisonous speech in digital form today that comes from Generation X, Millennials, Retirees, news media and all the way to the President of the United States.
I believe we need to address the problem at every turn. Especially as Christians we have an opportunity to use this technology for good not harm. We can affect the culture by using technology at hand to bless not curse. Somehow we need things to tone down. I pray we all will think before we tweet!
Living by the brook,