Let’s try to be apolitical, while discussing something slightly political for a moment. Don’t worry, we’ll get through it together.
Whether or not you follow President Trump on Twitter, or you even have a Twitter account, you know about the fighting that happens online surrounding the President. Arguments online have always been messy, but since 2016 even Evangelicals have been wrestling in the mud of the comment war.
Chris Martin speaks into how we can be engaged online while rising above the verbal battles.
“The common pew sitting, church attending Evangelical is not on Twitter. It’s more your thinkers, authors, and your speakers that are arguing with one another. They don’t like Donald Trump, and I think they are allowing his conduct and their distaste of his conduct to change the way they talk to each their, they way they talk to people who agree with him.”
Somehow in recent years, we have come to feel so passionate about political policy and those in power, we tie our identities to these groupings. Add on an impersonal text on your screen that has a contradicting viewpoint, and suddenly our “Christ-like” behavior flies out the window.
“I think Evangelicals who don’t like Donald Trump feel as though they have the permission to have conversations in ways they wouldn’t otherwise, because they think the situation is so dire, they’re able to bring out less Christ like means of communication, and I just don’t think that’s right. We need to check ourselves.”
Most of the conversations taking place are important; we need to be discussing these topics, and we need to represent Jesus in these conversations. In light of that truth how can we use social media to engage with others, but stay out of the insult slinging?
“I think it gives me a place to start. The most productive debates or conversations with the people whom I disagree on social media have always started in the public space, because that’s how we connect right?”
We follow each other on Twitter or something like that, maybe we tweet back and forth once or twice, but then I say, ‘Hey, can we take this to direct messages, or email, or text message?’ Because then we’re not showboating Then we’re not playing to a choir or trying to get people to approve of how we respond. The conversation becomes a whole lot more civil if you know no one else is watching.”
“When the conversation gets private and personal you have less of a temptation to do that because there’s no one to impress. So I always encourage people to have public conversation, but as soon as you can, make it private so neither of you are tempted to try and impress people that you want to impress.”
When you find yourself in a verbal battle online, whether you started it or not, try to move the conversation out of the public eye. Because in the public eye it’s never a conversation, it’s a battle. And in a battle of shouting and insults, everyone loses.
Chris Martin is a blog manager and social media professional at LifeWay Christian Resources, and author of the blog Millennial Evangelical. In addition to writing about current cultural issues and ministry for Millennial Evangelical, Chris writes for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Gospel Centered Discipleship, and other Christian publications.How to win Twitter fights: Stop fighting