There are a lot of mean people on the internet. The assumed anonymity of speaking online empowers people to be downright nasty.
The topic or network doesn’t matter. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, forums, you name it. Rude and mean people are in every nook & cranny online. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t encountered these folks at some point.
Unfortunately the negative nature of online speech is strong even among Christians. Look at any article on a controversial leader or pastor and you’ll see a steady stream of hateful comments by fellow Christians. It’s as if we forgot “They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”
This kind of speech is downright sinful. As Christians, we should adopt a spirit of gracious and generosity in our online interactions. In the potential darkness of the internet, we should shine a line of graciousness and generosity.
So what does it look like to be generous online in 2017?
Be generous with your praise. Many people use social media to vent their customer service frustrations. I’ve used Twitter more than once to quickly resolve an issue. But don’t be the person who only uses social media to be negative about a company. Go out of your way to give praise. Did you have a great interaction at Chick-fil-A or Starbucks? Tweet the main company account and share your experience with the names of those who helped you. Let people know you appreciate what they do.
Be generous with your encouragement. Social media is a great place to share the special moments of life. It’s part of our DNA as humans to crave community, and community should share the joy of special times. Did someone graduate college or grad school? Send them a personal note of congratulations. Is a friend struggling with their newborn who hates sleep? Pray for them, then send them a message encouraging them in that difficult moment. People crave encouragement on your news feed everyday, so give it to them.
Be generous with your platform. You don’t need 500,000 Twitter followers or Facebook fans to have a platform. If you have a social media account, you have the ability to communicate to more people globally than almost anyone in history. Use your platform, no matter the size, to share good things in the world. Share what’s happening in your church, or celebrate a positive thing in your community. Maybe share a friend’s need to raise money for an adoption. Use your following to help others.
Be generous with your money. Money is usually the first thing we consider when we hear generosity. And it’s an important part of our digital generosity. Whether it’s donating to a disaster fund or helping a friend raise money for a mission trip, it’s easier than ever to give money online.
As Christians, we are to live counter to the world around us. And I can’t think of a better way to be a blinding light in 2017.