On-line discussions can be difficult. Sometimes they are wonderful and worth the effort, and other times they are withering and not worth the time it takes to form the words on the keyboard. Blog comments, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and more can be deep wells of encouragement as well as deep pits of discouragement.
People sometimes lift others up with the greatest of ease, their words floating by and carrying you aloft in their kindness and plainly good intentions. People sometimes try to force upon you their demands you conform to their thoughts, their rules, their practices, or be labeled as unworthy of their esteem.
You can decide whether to breathe in the one and let the other die of its own lack of oxygen. Remember, silence is a time-honored tool for healthy conversation:
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
As Jacqueline Winspear said:
Sometimes it’s best to let words die of their own accord rather than fight them. (In This Grave Hour.)
This does not mean rejecting the other person, but it does mean not allowing the other person to set the rules. Not every demand on social media requires you to respond. After all, when you engage there is no reason to fight their fire with fire of your own. Rather:
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. …
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
(Proverbs 15:1, 18.)
Patience does not require endless engagement while the other person continues their disputatious ways, though. You don’t have to stay in those conversations forever.
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. (Titus 3:9.)
If the conversation is a foolish argument, quarrel or controversy, you have permission to drop out of it. There is nothing about Twitter, Facebook or the rest of social media that says you have to stay. You have the freedom to leave a bad conversation behind and let it go.
Does that mean you should leave all social media behind? Not at all. There is much that can be good in connecting with people. As Paul said:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11.)
Do this with people you see face to face and with people you see on line. Encouragement and building one another up is a great way to use the Internet. Go and do likewise. (Luke 10:37.)