Fifty years ago I was a figure skater. During a practice session, I landed a small jump just as another skater did hers. In case you’re not familiar with skating, jump take-offs are planned; landings are estimated. Our paths crossed, and my super-sharp skate blade lacerated her calf, leaving a scar when it healed. I was horrified! Injuries without intention are usually called accidents. Social media is rife with unintentional damage.
The skating accident wasn’t anyone’s fault, and neither she nor her mother were angry with me. Still, every time we sat beside each other lacing up our skates, I saw the scar. Each time I thought, “I did that.” I didn’t want to be the one who caused a forever scar.
Victims of Social Media
Have you ever scarred someone? Did you purposefully cause the injury? Have you been scarred? Was it purposeful?
Some wounds are unseen, with scars invisible to the eye. Both the one scarred and the one responsible are changed. Lingering guilt, remorse, pain, or expense live on long after the original injury.
A friend of mine hauled dirt and gravel with a huge semi. When loaded, his truck was a missile with mega-tons of force. One Thanksgiving morning he planned to quickly drop a needed load, offering service above and beyond. Afterwards, he would join his family, enjoy a turkey dinner, and watch football.
While rounding a hilly s-curve, a car carrying a family of five crossed the center line and struck his truck head on. He was in his own lane. He couldn’t see them coming. He did nothing wrong. Nothing.
The family perished. He spent years dealing with guilt. Who was the victim? My friend. Did the dad in the car intentionally hit his semi head-on? No.
Ambushed on Social Media
The image of a starved dog that died continues popping up on my Facebook timeline. I didn’t want to see it the first time and certainly don’t need to see it repeatedly. I’m well aware that people can be evil, horrible, and unfeeling.
Why is it in my Facebook feed? I screen my friends. I do not want to see abused or dead children or animals. I don’t want to know more about the depravity of humankind than I already know.
It’s not news. Animal abuse is a fact. People can be cruel and abusive. Which is precisely my perspective on social media assaults.
Most of us have some personal memory of abuse, whether insignificant or life-changing. The memory resides in your brain and only the mercy and grace of God can cover it. That’s more my story. God permits to me to easily remember the good and buries the not-so-good deep enough for retrieval when needed, but not part of my normal conscious state.
I am blessed. Of course it wasn’t always that way. But I have to work to bring up memories that don’t belong to my every day walk with Christ.
Use photographs on social media responsibly.
Some photographs shared on social media are drive-by assaults.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes words are enough to deeply wound. Words hide like guerrilla jungle fighters. Like the starving dog. The horse killed by a truck. A child who met a land mine. Reports of what humans do to other people and defenseless animals.
Twenty words are sufficient to create a mental image of horror. Of evil. Of something I do not want in my memory.
While researching the question of whether or not animals have eternal souls a few years ago, I bought and read a stack of the best books I could find.
“Who knows [whether] the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?” – Ecclesiastes 3:21 -NKJV **
Topics ranged from spiritual to historical, memoir to medical, and every point between. While reading an otherwise excellent book, I was ambushed with a couple dozen words that seared a mental image into my memory.
Humans are curious. We’ve wanted to know the answers since Genesis 3 and the Tower of Babel. Curiosity frequently trumps obedience to God and even basic humanity. In the case of scientific research on animals, seekers blew past both long ago.
A description of one such experiment ambushed me, the unsuspecting reader. It’s an image I HATE having in memory. Was I shocked? I don’t think so. I’m aware of what people did and do. In the spirit of Ephesians 5:3, I won’t even use the official term describing such “experiments.”
Why do you share what you do?
From that moment, I resolved to never ambush my readers with descriptions of evil. That’s why I notice when a connection on social media does the same thing. Photographs of torture or abuse are incendiary. Hurtful. And shared to what end?
I reacted so strongly to the description of a mama dog subjected to “scientific research” because my heart is not hardened. My emotions are still accessible. They haven’t been hardened or callused by repeated exposure to horror.
Since then, I zealously guard my readers. I may refer to something dark, but will never describe it in detail. I never want to be the unintentional cause of an emotional wound; a spiritual drive-by. There’s no excuse. I will never do to you what was done to me.
It’s not the author’s fault. I doubt he was under the same conviction I am. God used the experience to teach me the lesson. It worked. I won’t forget. And I’m sharing it.
No matter how strong the conviction, excuses are still excuses.
How many eyes see darkness they once thought was light? The result of your walk with Christ is transformation from thinking a behavior is okay to the conviction that it is evil.
Progressive society encourages you to evolve, to see light where you once saw darkness. Perhaps something you once considered nasty lost it’s edge. It became routine. Acceptable. Maybe even beneficial. Folks who share horrific stories and images may argue that, “People need to be aware!”
Of what? That people do awful things? Everyone above the age of four knows that and children younger should be left in peace.
Part of Satan’s diabolical plan is depriving children of innocence. Children shouldn’t be introduced to the bad news of humanity until they’re ready to hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Anything else is abusive.
Does that mean every child can be protected?
But every parent worthy of the title should move heaven and earth to do so. Begin with prayer. Before marriage. Before conception. Before birth, and every day thereafter.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; – Ephesians 5:3
Legacy of Violent Video Games
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention violent video games. People who see dismemberment, torture, and death on little screens in the name of fun build callouses on their hearts and spirits.
Ours is a jaded and corrupt society. We’re immune to most horrors. God didn’t do that. Satan did.
Are you aiding and abetting the Enemy? Has your heart hardened against evil? What do you watch, read, or share on social media? Are you victimizing others?
Evil lurks in the screenplays and pages of thrillers. Do you watch Criminal Minds on television? Do your children?
Are violent novels or video games welcome in your home? Do you read Dean Koontz novels? I used to. Until a day fifteen years ago, when it dawned on me that only a depraved imagination can come up with the horror reflected on the pages. You can’t drudge up darkness unless it’s already present.
Avoid darkness, not embrace it.
When did depravity become entertainment? Long ago. Even before the bloody spectacles of the Roman Coliseum. Evil has been normalized in our society and many of our homes. Again.
Seek and Reflect the Light of Christ
I quit reading the Koontz book in Chapter 2, threw it away, and never read another bloody thriller. We quit watching darkness on television seven years ago.
Why clean your mind, spirit, and body when you willingly extend invitations to darkness and evil?
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” – Matthew 12: 43-45
The season we’re in requires vigilance. We’ve arrived “in that day.” Many messages, news, and otherwise-benign social media posts are malignant. They replicate themselves, like cancer cells. They are abnormal and deadly to the spirit.
Think carefully before you share something, in person or online. Your friends trust you and your judgment. God holds you accountable for what your young children see.
- Is it helpful?
- Does it edify?
- Does it reflect Christ?
If not, why repeat it?
Don’t ambush others. Protect your children, your friends, and yourself.
** RE: Ecclesiastes 3:21 – Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate read Who knows whether the spirit . . . goes upward, and whether . . . goes downward to the earth?