Social media can be an amazing way to connect with friends from afar and unite around causes in which we believe. But too often, social media can also be a life-drainer. Perceived anonymity makes it easier to say things we’d never say face-to-face. Gracious tone can be lost in numbered keystrokes. Though it may feel as if we’re defending our beliefs in a public forum, we may, inadvertently be muddying the waters.
Want to do an effective job promoting pro-abundant life issues on social media? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Be Positive
Language matters. Make sure you’re known online as someone who is “for” life, not just “against” abortion. If you like to share posts about hot issues in the movement, make sure you’re sharing stories that are positive too. Yes, it can feel important to let your friends know about anti-life legislation or an abortion doctor’s misdeeds, but share in equal or greater amounts the stories of hope—like this one about a boy born with spina bifida and “without a brain” who is now thriving.
2) Don’t Debate
In the fourteen years I’ve been on Facebook there’s one thing I’ve noticed. No one ever wins a debate in comments. Never once have I seen someone reply, “Wow. You’re right. I never thought of it that way before. I’m going to completely change my views.” It just doesn’t happen.
Yes! You can graciously disagree when someone posts something contrary to your beliefs. But, sometimes it’s better to just ignore the post. If you feel strongly, reach out to the person and ask them to meet you for coffee. Tell them you’re interested in their perspective and would like to talk about it more. If you don’t live in the same city, send a kind and respectful private message asking if you can talk more about the subject.
Full-blown debates on social media don’t change hearts or minds. Plus, they stress us out. It’s better for our health and our movement if we keep our debates off the Internet.
3) Lead With Love
“They will know we are Christians by our love.”
“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace . . .”
A good rule of thumb for everything we post on social media is this: Is it loving? I also like to ask myself these questions before I post:
- Is it edifying?
- Will this build others up or tear others down?
- Am I posting this for my own glory, or for God’s?
- Would Jesus press “like” on this?
So I may not know with certainty the answer to the last question, I daily see Facebook posts that make me cringe. I watch friends engage in meaningless dialogue or share stories that, even if they’re true, may not pass the Apostle Paul’s definition of edifying.
Being a good advocate for abundant life online requires us to guard our Facebook character in the same way we’d protect our real reputation. If you want to be a trusted and credible resource on issues of life, watch what you post. If you want to be a loving friend who leads others to life-affirming choices, watch how you respond. If you want to be a good example of a Christ-follower, lead every comment and post with love.