In this day and age, we use social media a lot, whether we use it to reconnect with acquaintances or old friends, whether we use it as part of work, or whether we just casually use it to see what things our friends are sharing. Social media can also be an arena for any sort of conversation topic, whether it’s about a current issue going on in the world, or whether it’s about something closer to home, or whether it’s about one’s faith or beliefs.

But what if our social media use is more than just scrolling across a phone screen or acknowledging that we “like” what someone says or does at the click of a mouse?  What if we can actually make a difference with the way we handle social media; specifically, conversation? Can it be constructive and productive? How do we make that happen?

We can simply be nice.

Whenever people post things on social media, we either agree or disagree with them. But there are times when disagreements are so intense online that people will sometimes say things that really should not be said, such as name-calling and other unnecessary discouragement that often has nothing to do with what the person posted. In short, the person who put the update online in the first place is often criticized worse than the object or topic being criticized.

In cases like this, we often forget that there are real, live people behind these computer or smartphone screens, and they can feel the weight of discouragement as much as we can. As such, we need to be nice to everyone, regardless of what they say to us in return. We can do this by having a Christ-like attitude, and we need to employ the Golden Rule in all of our actions, including those we partake in while using social media: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

We can stand for our faith, but we should not go on the attack.

Going off of my previous point, we need to show love in all ways, especially to those who are behaving in ways and partaking in actions that go against what God says in His Word. If there does come a time that we need to defend our faith and the truth, whether online or in person, we need to do so in a loving way. Jesus never berated a person for their sins; rather, He loved them and forgave them, telling them not to continue their sin anymore (John 8:10-11).

There’s a chance that people we encounter on social media may not have had a conversation with a Christian about faith or the Bible. If we do attempt to force our beliefs on a person, no matter how good-intentioned we are, there is the risk that they won’t want to follow God at all. In fact, the last thing any of us want is for someone to say that if they can’t continue their sinful lifestyle, then they may not even want to go to Heaven, so it’s of paramount importance that we show them that we love them and care for them, even if we don’t agree with them. However, if they are open to learn about your faith, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Social media interactions may feel inconsequential, but they are still words spoken to another person, so it’s important that we make sure that what we say to another person glorifies God in all ways (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Think about the example you’re setting.

Like it or not, the people using social media are getting younger and younger with each passing year. Speaking from personal experience, I didn’t start using social media until I was a junior in high school. Now, middle-school age children and kids even younger than that have access to social media sites.

If you choose to use social media, you need to be aware of the personal example that you are setting. You have control over the updates you post, so make sure that you are posting things that glorify God and that align with your faith. Keep in mind that Jesus wanted kids to know Him along with everyone else, and we should keep them in mind as well as we walk Heavenward (Matthew 19:14; Ephesians 6:4).

Finally, make sure that your contribution to social media is music, not noise.

All too often do we see complaining and discouragement cross our social media screens, and there’s often so much of it that we won’t want to post at all, because the noise is so great that we’re afraid that we won’t be heard.

But, let me tell you something: encouragement speaks – and, using our musical analogy, sings – so much louder because of how great of an impact that it has. In fact, encouragement is very much present in Scripture itself (Joshua 1:9; Acts 15:31). Granted, you can make the same argument that discouragement and negativity can bring you down faster, but it’s a lot better to be remembered online for just posting scripture and happy things rather that contributing to the noise that is discouragement. It’s truly better to encourage one another and bring each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and you’ll potentially be able to evangelize to more people that way.

At the end of the day, anything we do – whether it’s social media interactions or anything else – should be governed by our Christian worldview, and it should also be constructive. And as such, our conversations on social media can be constructive by us being nice, loving, example-setting, and encouraging in the face of a world that sometimes considers those things rare.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

By Savannah Cottrell