When I was a young newlywed, a popular thing among my peers was to watch what was known as “Soap Operas.”
At first, I fell into that habit, but quickly realized it took up a lot of my time that could be used doing other more enjoyable things.
"For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts" (2 Timothy 3:6).
I read this verse and to me it seemed to be speaking about those soap operas and my friends who would discuss the plots like these were people they knew. It was like they had crept into our households and were introducing us to various sins and lusts that we otherwise would not come in contact with. I immediately determined I would no longer watch them and have never looked back.
Now I am taking that same look at social media. Since I retired a few months ago, I have found myself spending more and more time on social media. I see people getting all wrapped up in conspiracy theories and this or that person coming forward with their “hidden” truth. These are things we can get caught up in and begin to take seriously whether we should believe them or not.
I am not smart enough to watch and always separate the truth from the untruths. I find myself getting worked up over things that I cannot prove one way or the other and I have determined I will not fill my mind with them. Even after I have stated this, I found almost everyone I know on social media trying to send me their video links they feel I should watch to be enlightened to what is really going on in the world.
I have made up my mind that I will spend less than an hour per day on social media. I will have to set a timer, because you lose track of how much time you are on there. I may remove myself entirely, but will at least limit it to making positive posts if I do stay on. I will not allow myself to be caught up in endless discussions about things I have no control over and no way of knowing the truth unless God brings it to the light.
It made this verse come to mind about avoiding foolish disputes: "But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9).
I am also looking at the negative influences on our brains with spending so much time in small bytes of information. It is well documented that it leads to a shorter attention span and the psychologists studying the impact say it also can activate a portion of our brain that is the fight or flight response to danger. It is not our friend.
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15).
I believe social media has become the new soap opera obsession, with far more people involved than ever got wrapped up in the soaps, and it can be just as harmful if not more so. Not only that, it is constantly mining everything you look at and everything you say to target you with advertisements or use in some data company for national trends. Nothing you say or do is just between you and your friends.
"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:5).
We have to be careful how we present ourselves on social media—if you would not say something face to face with someone, you should not post it in social media. We can cause offense to a little one without even realizing it. This is not about avoiding sharing the truth but about sharing it in love, keeping in mind others who may see what you post.
"Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
'Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
'But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea'" (Matthew 18:2-6).
You don't have to be face to face to cause offense.
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).