3 Tips to Make a Better Internet by Taming Our Digital Tongues
—Book Review of A Way with Words

“The truth is, we are not merely engaging theological arguments, we are speaking with actual people.”
– Daniel Darling, A Way with Words

Are Digital Tongues as Harmful?

The pastor retweeted from a bad account.

And it cost him. And his church. And the people that his church were helping.

The pastor used his summer turning it back around. Investing in more repentance, more conversations, more reconciliation work.

This is what can happen when we don’t tame our digital tongues.

As much as I love my technology, I’m also aware of its dangers. And the internet, while one of the most incredibly useful tools now known to man, can also incite the most damage.

3 Tips to Tame the Internet

How can we make the internet a better place for believers and unbelievers alike?

Here are 3 tips from Daniel Darling on how to make a better internet by taming our digital tongues, from his new book, A Way with Words: Using Our Online Conversations for Good.

A Way with Words

1. BE SLOW TO TWEET

“Even though Scripture urges believers to, at times, speak out and to seek justice, it doesn’t ever say that we have to do so immediately.”

It’s easy to give a knee-jerk reaction when we first hear of the latest tragedy or political scandal. It’s good to respond quickly if we’re offering condolences or promoting unity, but it’s not okay if we’re pronouncing judgments and issuing condemnations.

Get the facts. Support good journalism. Care about the truth.

2. USE LESS RED INK

“The truth is that we don’t have to correct every stray tweet. We don’t have to ‘but actually’ our aunt’s well-meaning but slightly unclear Facebook post about her mission trip. We can actually sit out a few controversies and the world will be just fine.”

Our corrections get us into trouble. Being critical online is just as harsh as being critical in person. The person on the other side of the screen is indeed an actual person, not just an avatar.

Being nitpicky doesn’t convey love.

3. FORGET THE FAME

“It doesn’t matter if ten or a hundred or a thousand people ‘like’ us online; we are loved by the One who breathed life into us, who formed the universe, and whose assessment is the only one that ultimately matters.”

Because the internet has created fame for a few, it’s a tempting audition stage for more would-be fame-seekers. But attention-seeking is counterproductive to the humility-seeking that Christ urges us to do instead.

Daniel suggests we do daily heart work before we engage the world. Then engage our online work as a service to others. Point the world toward Jesus. Use your platform to encourage others and highlight good work you notice being done. Be a “digital Barnabas.”

A Way with Words is full of more practical advice (and motivating reasons) to use the internet for online conversations for good instead of bad. And it gives us each the proper starting point: ourselves.

“If we Christians want the internet to be better, we can start by being the better internet we want to see.”


Are you more apt to get angry with people online or with people in person? How do you monitor your online presence? Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to Net Galley and B&H
Publishing for the review copy of this book

17 thoughts on “3 Tips to Make a Better Internet by Taming Our Digital Tongues
—Book Review of A Way with Words

  1. blankbill (cycleguy)

    Everytime I read something like your review, Lisa, or listen to someone rant and rave and hear how incendiary their remarks are, I am glad I am not on social media and spending time online. I am told enough of what someone said or posted or instagrammed or Facebooked that I am relieved. I’m not sweating bullets over being misconstrued. I have enough of that in real life. 🙂 Good review though. I see that advice good for all speech.

  2. blankPatti Gardner

    I have been on and off Facebook over a dozen times in the last five years, and several months ago, I deactivated again—all because of the ugly name-calling and hateful arguments going on. It really stresses me out (enneagram 9 here, and I can’t tolerate conflict). Honestly, when I see name-calling and hateful comments, I can feel physical changes in my body.

    I used to think that people said things online that they would never say to someone else in person. I’m not so sure of that anymore. As the news bears out, we are using hateful words face-to-face with one another all the time these days.

    At any rate, this sounds like a fantastic book. I am definitely going to read it!!

    By the way, I love your new profile photo. You look gorgeous—and you rock the short hair!!

    Blessings,
    Patti Gardner

  3. blankWemi Omotosho

    “We can actually sit out a few controversies and the world will be just fine” – I couldn’t agree more, I don’t get involved in debates online – it tends to stress me out and it’s not worth it my sanity. “It doesn’t matter if ten or a hundred or a thousand people ‘like’ us online; we are loved by the One who breathed life into us” – so much yes! The Lord is working on me with regards to this so your post is timely – not to focus on the follower count; what matters is that I’m using my platform the way He asks me to (to encourage others). Thank you for this book review x

  4. blankMartha Jane Orlando

    This sounds like an awesome read, Lisa! I’ve pretty much learned to not knee-jerk when on Facebook (cancelled my Twitter account ages ago), and it really pays off. Not that we shouldn’t speak our minds, but we should always do so lovingly, seeing the person as if he or she were standing right in front of us.
    Blessings!

  5. blankBettie G

    This sounds like an excellent read, Lisa. May we truly pause and pray before we just quickly hit that “comment” or “reply” button. People’s hearts are involved. And I just wanted to say that I have had you on my heart all morning, and I am praying for your safety during Hurricane Sally!

  6. blankDavid

    Sounds like a much needed book. As Patti says above, the hateful approach is spreading from social media to real life, and from speech to action. I really do think Christians can show a way back to sanity here — paradoxically by being more humanistic than the (secular) humanists.

    I use the delete button quite a lot. I write my choice tweet, savour its wit and its intended caustic effect – then press delete instead of send. All of the pleasure and none of the regret.

    I have found social media excellent for finding inspiration and learning. I try and remember that when I am online — try to be the kind of person I would like to meet (kind of Matthew 7:12).

  7. blankDonna B

    Lisa, I loved your review. I recently saw this book and wondered if it was worth the read. Now I know it is! So timely given the social discourse over so many things recently. I am appalled at the things people will say when they can hide behind the computer screen. Even so, we all could be a little slower to hit the “post” button, being sure that what we posted is true, kind and necessary.

  8. blankJean Wise

    Losing the tone of voice and seeing the non verbal is so vague and open to misinterpretation. So tempting though isn’t it to respond right away. Good thoughts here today, Lisa. Thank you.

  9. blankTea With Jennifer

    Great review Lisa!
    Such wisdom at this time in global technological use. I’ve never traversed social media apart from Pinterest which is more of a pin board really.
    Although with InLinz recently upgrading their log in process which is apparently a too new update for my poor old tablet. I did open a Facebook account to try to log in that way to no avail.
    But I am hesitant to actually use that Facebook account…
    This review is very timely indeed!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

  10. blankKaren Friday

    This is fresh insight, Lisa. Thanks for sharing much needed truths from this book. We often forget our words carry just as much power online as off. And even our lack of words say a lot about who we are and our motives.

  11. blankmariel

    Yes, Lisa! If only we would remember that James exhortation to us in 1:19 refers to ALL our communication, internet included! Love your practical break down and reminders here! Ouch and Amen!! 🙂

  12. blankAnita Ojeda

    This is sound advice! I’m learning to control my knee-jerk reactions (especially when a trollish-type person starts commenting on my posts). We need to spread love, not hate if we want to make the world a better place!

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