Avoiding Division on Social Media


I’d like to share an article written by my friend, Les Ey, regarding the rampant division, anger, and animosity being incited across social media and various news outlets.

Avoiding Division on Social Media by Les Ey

Since the rise of the internet and social medial, the political division has increased, and sadly, that is affecting Christians. Emotions are running high. Fear and anger are the dominant emotions instead of grace, forgiveness, and love. So how did it come to this?

One crucial factor is that social media companies and traditional news outlets are in the businesses of maximizing profit. In an interview, NBC spoke with three individuals that were involved with Tech giants.

From NBC nightly news,

“… and to keep them engaged, these three argue, Facebook has a financial incentive not to limit ads or misinformation as long as it’s getting clicks.” 1

Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook manager, said,

“The company just continuously prioritized user growth and making money over protecting users.” 1

Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor, and mentor to Mark Zuckerberg said,

“Making you angry, making you afraid, is really good for Facebook’s business …” 1

Facebook’s response was to the effect that they have tried to clamp down on fake news and misleading ads. To be fair, Facebook has prioritized posts from friends and family, but the point remains that making people angry or afraid results in more clicks, and that fact is not lost on news agencies.

News agencies needed to change to compete with social media. Clickbait and hot button news are what attracts readers, so the quality of fact-checking has suffered. News outlets aim to present content that suits the demographics of their readers/viewers, so they are becoming increasingly biased.

Jon McCray (Whaddo You Meme) recently posted a video on his YouTube channel where he talked about violence and division. 2  

He talks about

“… a psychological condition called splitting …”  and about how “social media and news outlets are designed to cater to the problem … and splitting is where you see someone or some group as all bad or all good without a middle ground.” 2

He makes the point that the more you talk to people you disagree with the more you can see them as humans who are just like you.  So, it is easy to demonize people you don’t engage with and justify hurting them, whether that be verbally or physically.

McCray quotes Martin Luther King Jr.,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 2

So, what should our response be? McCray said, “So, as Christ says, love one another and instead of hating your enemies, pray for them.” 2 and I totally agree. What I have started to do is to be more selective about what media I spend most of my time reading or listening to. For example, Christian news services tend to be less inflammatory than mainstream media. But even alternate news organizations can be divisive. I unsubscribed from a ministry focused on a single issue that I passionately agree with because of their tone. It was temping for me to hate individuals that they were writing about. I still get media reports on that issue from other sources, but those sources are more inclined to encourage respectful dialog and prayer. I’m not saying that we should not engage politically, far from it, we should stand up for important issues but do so with love and respect instead of hate, anger, and fear. It is essential to realize that both sides of politics have room for improvement. We shouldn’t let politics divide us. Both sides like to press our buttons because it motivates people to vote. Vote but don’t hate. Remember who our real enemy is.

Eph 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. NIV

Be respectful

Prov 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”. NIV

Abby Johnson (whose story is told in the movie Unplanned) is just one example of what prayer, love, and respect can do. She was a Planned Parenthood director, but some Christians offered to be there for her without judging her. Is the person that we are reading about or interacting with potentially an Abby Johnson? Will we speak life or be manipulated by anger and fear? 

For more articles, interviews, and short stories by Les Ey, visit his website at https://les-ey.website/

References

[1] NBC, Jan 17, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvW5aRZSbgQ viewed on Oct 10, 2019

[2] McCray, J, Oct 1, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gexB2p13O5k viewed on Oct 10, 2019

NIV (New International Version) Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 Biblica

Thank you, Les, for sharing with us today!

A personal note…

In closing, let me share a secret I learned when I first began working in internet marketing: if you can make a connection to the strongest emotions of your target audience, you can manipulate their response and behavior. (Manipulate: to influence, control, direct, guide, conduct, negotiate, exploit, steer, maneuver, alter, distort, change. To control to one’s own advantage by artful or indirect means.)

Let that really sink in.

Of course, in marketing, this was intended to increase sales of whatever product or service you are pitching.

But it has also become a mainstream tactic in social and news media, as well as politics and religion, because emotions such as anger, hatred, and fear are powerful motivators that will stir us to action. However, love is also a strong emotion, as well as an action in itself.

I’d like to offer some food for thought today…

One of the most important aspects of the Christian life is to love one another. Are we really exemplifying that love with our words and actions…even when we disagree with another’s view or opinion?

#MakeADifference #StopTheHate #LoveOneAnother

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