“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.
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
- Wherever Truth Comes From, Listen
- When Your Mind Won’t Shut Down