Slightly Obsessed #237: Social Media Stoning

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger settles in the lap of a fool.

– Ecclesiastes 7:9 

Blood-thirsty mobs have always existed.

But revenge was a simpler act to carry out in the days before computers. People just stoned the offenders. The wounds were physical and usually fatal. It was not supposed to be a quick death. The element of slow suffering was inflicted as part of the punishment.

Today it’s a bit more complicated. Today’s mobs draw blood through what my son calls a “social media stoning.” It invokes the hysteria of the Salem witch trials and the brutality of a lynching. These are the unspoken rules:

Pick up an offense.

Any offense will do. It doesn’t matter if the transgression is accidental or purposeful.

Give it a name.

Slap a toxic label on the offender, conferring upon him all the sin that goes with it, thereby rendering him guilty by supposed association.

“Out” the offender.

The more public, the better.

Take no prisoners.

In a social media stoning, the focus is on a swift takedown; to hear the satisfying thud of stone against flesh. The more vicious the attack, the better.

Go up to your house justified.

All that’s left is to scroll through the praises heaped upon the victor.

Every one of these actions is diametrically opposed to the Word of God.

God says:

Love…is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.

-1 Corinthians 13:5

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.’

– Revelation 12:10

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

– Matthew 18:15

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

– Matthew 6:14

Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone….’

– John 8:7

In today’s polarized atmosphere, it’s easy to demonize others.

It’s much harder to exercise discipline and discernment on social media. May God give us the power to be slow to anger and full of grace toward those who speak in ignorance. We are called to praise others in public and reprove them in private whenever possible. Especially, we should be using our time in pursuits honoring our King instead of administering our own brand of justice.

If we don’t, every day might as well be Halloween.


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