Have you ever seen a Facebook fight? They're not pretty. I'm ashamed to admit that I, myself played a part in one once. The battle began with a good intention and came to an abrupt conclusion with someone deleting me as a "friend." You know how it goes. You read something and get offended. You don't bother to call the person and talk about it. Instead, you shoot back a "comment" which is met with another, perhaps more offensive, "comment." In the worst of battles, this interaction takes place within a few short hours - maybe even minutes. I was reading something in James this morning and I got to thinking, how would this look if it was posted on Facebook? In particular, chapter 1, verse 19 stood out to me. It reads, "My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry." Great advice for sure. But I think James may have had another version of this verse for his posting. I think it would've read, "... be quick to read, slow to post, and slow to get emotional."
James' advice about being slow to speak applies perfectly in a Facebook setting. If we just take some time to consider what we read and give ourselves a chance to cool down a bit, we may discover that what we thought someone said wasn't really what they meant at all. Or, we may find that the matter isn't even important enough to address. Why do we think we need to make a comment? Christ, in his earthly ministry, knew that sometimes it was better not to speak. One day He jotted a few words in the sand and a riotous mob walked away. On other occasions , a group of Pharisees approached Him purposing to start an argument and He posed a question and walked away again. (Mark 8:11-13 and Mark 11:27-33) Jesus never worried about what people would think of Him if He just walked away. So why do we? I think I would prefer to be known for saying nothing if the other option is to show up with egg on my face. Wouldn't you?
It's also important to note that God's wise instruction in Proverbs 15:1 ("A soft answer turns away wrath") cannot be "heard" over the internet. Often the words we intend to say "softly" don't come across that way. All the more reason to avoid confrontations using social media. I'm not saying avoid confrontations altogether. I'm simply saying that if you can do it face to face, or even over the phone, you are less likely to regret what you said. Just be sure to heed James' advice to listen first. (And a little prayer certainly never hurts!)