The last year and a half has seen the worst of humanity on social media. It is not just the beliefs you post about, but also the arguments online that deteriorate real-life relationships. “How the heck can you believe that?” Each side asks the other. Good intentions of trying to inform your friends and followers of the gravity of Charlottesville (or just white supremacy in general) devolve into screaming matches that masquerade as conversation.
Facebook and Twitter fights are still fights. No one changes their mind because of something a peer writes on their social media feed. We only enjoy the affirmation of our beliefs, and that is why we block our grandparents or classmates or other church members when we don’t agree with what they post.
But here’s the thing: You can’t block people in real life. Even if you remove yourself from a toxic friendship, there is still an aftermath that you have to deal with in real life (if you are in a toxic friendship or relationship, you have every right to distance yourself from that person).
Stop wasting your time trying to come up with the perfect argument for your second cousin’s most recent racist Facebook post; log off, talk to some friends and be prepared to see that cousin at the family reunion in December.
Then, when you are face-to-face with them, you can have a conversation with them about whatever you were about to fight them about online.
This face-to-face dialogue or discourse, or maybe even an argument, will have more impact than a Facebook or Twitter fight. Sitting down with someone makes you recognize their humanity. It allows both of you to see the other’s reaction and body language. It allows you to tell them that you still love them.
As Christians, it’s not our place to condemn others; it’s our place to love them. In loving them, we help to show them the truth that white supremacy is dangerous and destructive and anti-Christ. But a social media fight is not an act of love.
It’s just not.
And if you don’t know the person you think you need to fight online, remember that you don’t know them. There is nothing good or holy about trying to put someone in his or her place online. Don’t feed the trolls.
Christi is a senior public relations and Christian ministries major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.