Some time ago, Doy Moyer, preacher and professor at Florida College, posted a piece about happiness as it relates to some of the ranting we witness on social media.
“There is a universal desire for happiness, but since happiness is so elusive, people have instead embraced anger and have given in to the hopelessness and bitterness that come with it.”
“This is expressed through the violence and vitriol so prevalent in the world. Social media is filled with incivility as people snipe, snarl and take potshots meant to shame and intimidate.” Doy opined. Rational discussion is replaced with irrational venting. These are signs of a disillusioned world that can no longer see the good, so they strive to manufacture meaning out of the meaningless, and greater frustration sets in (see Ecclesiastes).
Doy’s post continued with these observations.
“People aren’t happy and they won’t allow others to be happy. It is an angry, malevolent existence and refuses to look in the very place that will change everything. It’s as if people are seeking happiness by being angry and bitter, and this just makes it worse. Lashing out is like an evangelistic fervor, but instead of pointing people to Christ, people point back to their own tyrannical resentment and force others to bow to their irrationalism, and all they do is create more enemies. No one is happy. Everyone knows this, yet the cycle keeps spiraling downward.”
The answer, Doy suggested is found in our practical application of the gospel.
“This is why the gospel is so relevant in our age. The universal desire for happiness points us to a greater reality that this world cannot satisfy. Anger has no stopping point without forgiveness, yet forgiveness has no place in a world that also has no room for grace and mercy. The gospel shows us that grace, mercy, hope, love, forgiveness, justice, and purpose are ideals that are offered through Jesus Christ. We need not remain disillusioned if we can open our eyes to the light of the Lord.”
“We wish to see Jesus.”
I can imagine some may not totally agree with our brother’s observations and indictment of social media’s abuse and angry posts. So, the simple advice offered by another facebook friend, Beth Powers Buck, might be helpful.
“Think once before you act, twice before you speak, and three times before you post on facebook.”
These observations fit with the scripture that exhorts. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:18-20).
Sadly, however, as a recent study suggested, “Anger seems to be all the rage on social media these days. Angry thoughts have the tendency to spread the fastest on the social web. Is it any wonder then that Twitter has often been called the angriest place on the internet?”
“A new Yale University study published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ shows how online networks encourage us to express more moral outrage over time. This is because expressing outrage online gets more likes than other interactions. The increased number of likes and shares teach people to be angrier. In addition, these rewards had the greatest effect on users linked to politically moderate networks. Moral outrage is justifiable anger, disgust or frustration in response to an injustice.”
When all the anger, wrath and clamor is stripped away the Psalmist was spot on when he wrote, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 144:15).
This boils down to a decision to make Him the Lord of our life, and choose happiness. 150 years before social media, our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln opined, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Serve God. Choose Happiness. Eschew Anger. And be circumspect with your posts on social media.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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