Christian Social Media Users: We Can Do Better

Social media has been a fantastic revolution in the way we communicate and share information. There are so many good things about being able to keep in touch with friends and meet new people around the world, having instant access to news, videos, information, music and ideas, even online church services - it’s mind boggling how much the internet has enriched our lives in the last decade.

Yet social media is a double edged sword, and presents a myriad of new challenges and new problems.

Recently an online Christian friend posted a heartbreaking comment: "I love staying in touch with everyone on [social media]. But so much hate from believers and non believers. It saddens my heart. It is one thing to have an opinion but the nastiness is awful. Try to speak to each other in love, even believers can have different opinions, please have respect, we are all in this together whatever this is. Find God's Shalom before attacking each other."

So many of her friends chimed in and agreed, and shared their own horror stories of being attacked online by those of different opinions, often fellow believers, that I think we have to take a step back and ask, "What are we doing here?"

Social media is certainly a relatively new form of communication and presents unprecedented challenges, and quite frankly most of us come into it without any guidance or training. It has become a communication style free for all, and rules of etiquette or decorum, how to reason, how to discuss, healthy rules and strategies for debating, when to speak or not, when and how to share, and when to pass – all of it is very chaotic and confusing. And with information being shared at the speed of light – some good info, mixed in with a lot of fake news and garbage, how can a person even begin to navigate these treacherous waters?

After reflecting on it, praying on the subject and consulting with numerous others on the matter, I’d like to share a few ideas. Remember, we can’t control how others act and behave, but by disciplining our own behaviors, we can be good role models and good Christian witnesses.

Keep cool and take a deep breath before sharing political posts

For those of us in the United States, we are entering the final period of an especially hostile and bitter battle leading up to the November election. Every dirty trick in the book is played by both sides, as well as by the usual troublemakers, who are unaffiliated with either campaign directly, but just like stirring the pot and enjoying how easily they can get us all in a knot.

There are myriads of fake and digitally manipulated images circulating, for example, showing "Creepy Joe Biden" being especially outrageously creepy. Though we know there has been a history of real and established pictures and videos that are "awkward", any time you see a picture that seems to show him with his hands on a white house staffer's breasts, or kissing a fifteen year old girl on the lips, you can bet it's Photoshop at work.

Similarly, we know Trump can be colorful in his rhetoric at times, and not every statement or policy decision of his is perfect. But if you see a meme circulating showing a group of women with Trump 2020 shirts with the words "I am a racist" beneath, you can bet it's also Photoshop.

As we have all seen, even news stories about virtually anything political, no longer have any semblance of objectivity. Both sides are highly partisan, and have no problem selectively editing or putting a spin on quotes and facts.

And the caricatures we have been resorting to, to demonize our former real life friends who have now become our cyber "enemies", really are outrageous and exaggerated. No Trump supporter I know commits hate crimes. No Democrat I know supports Antifa. There are outliers in every group, but let’s return to our humanity and remember how much better life used to be when we were young and carefree and knew nothing about politics.

Anyway in short, before you forward anything salacious that seems to help your candidate, please vet and fact check what you are sharing, so you don't contribute to the noise. I'll try to be better about that myself too this time around.

How to discern fact from fiction: vet before you share!

One trap so many of us fall into time and again, is to automatically trust and share any post that comes our way that appears to support our pre-existing biases. Most of the time we don’t even get as far as reading the article – a salacious headline and picture is usually enough for us to assign an emoji and decide whether or not to share.
I appreciate rational presentation of evidence in both sides of any discussion these days.

Proverbs 18:17 says:

The first to state a case seems right, until another comes forth and cross examines him.

And of course, we should also listen to rebuttals of cross examinations. There are a lot of opinions zooming around the internet these days like wildfire, and rarely, when people decide which side they want to take on an issue, will they take the time to examine views both for and against, and attempt to reassess where they stand on the issue.

The story of the day is "Plandemic", a video that took the internet by storm. It is such a powerful compelling presentation that seems to indict Fauci, Gates, the established medical community and all the world governments and powers that are playing us like pawns and want to get rich, by forcing us all to get vaccinated against a virus that they engineered in the first place.

I have found people online taking one extreme view or another. On the one side, this woman Judy Mikovitz is brave, is a hero, she is risking her life and reputation going up against the establishment and basically willing to lose everything in order to expose the plot and help the people. For those people, it is important to get the word out there and share the video like crazy everywhere you can before the "evil social media giants shut it down", not even questioning the authenticity of the information or motive behind it.

On the other side are the people that feel this woman is a complete scam, everything she shares in the video is factually inaccurate, she is a fraud, all of her claims are unsubstantiated, and "here’s the fact check sites that prove that everything about her is a hoax" in essence. The Wikipedia entry certainly makes her appear to be a fraud, all under the pretense of being an unbiased, factual, encyclopedia style article.

Both sides appear to have ample evidence to support their extreme opposite views.

But yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in a discussion, where one of my friends shared the "fact check, push-back on Plandemic" information. One of his friends responded with a very solid "fact-check on the fact-checks", demonstrating how a lot of her claims were in fact true, and the extremely derogatory fact-check bullet lists, appear to be a systematic propaganda character assassination campaign against her.

So now I have seen the initial argument, her video (which by the way resonated with a lot of my own personal biases), as well as the other side – the cross-examination. But then finally, I got the rebuttal to the cross-examination, and now I feel I am finally beginning to be equipped with enough different points of view to start to form a balanced opinion of this story. And I suspect the truth isn’t all one side or another, but perhaps somewhere in between. Yes, she has ulterior motives, this video and the business behind it is most certainly a major money maker for her. Yes, her critics have legitimate concerns. Nevertheless, the debate of the safety of vaccines, for example, and whether people should be forced to have them or not, remains a very legitimate debate and it cannot be ruled that either side is 100% right.

For all these reasons, I have personally chosen not to share anything about Plandemic, either for or against - other than talking about it here by way of example. But if I were to share, I think it would be in the best interest of all if I were to give an honest opinion and share what I believe, but also links to good evidence supporting my views, the opposition to my views, the rebuttal arguments etc, so the people I am sharing with have a chance to really examine the evidence fairly as well.

Isn’t that, after all, the format of voter information guides we all get, so we can have a fair, nonpartisan reading of all the issues on the ballot?

Isn’t that the format that courtroom cases have, so the jury truly gets a chance to examine all the evidence from both sides, and form a proper, hopefully unbiased judgement?

Develop better respect and habits for how you treat people with different opinions

It’s very easy to get "triggered" on social media. It has been said for years, even before the advent of social media, that if you want things to go well in any social setting, avoid talking about religion or politics. That most certainly can be said for social media, but I would say the stress and anxiety levels in online conversations/arguments gets even worse and more heated, faster, than in person.

Part of the reason for that I believe, is the level of safety and anonymity when we are commenting from the comfort of our own homes. We can insult people easily without consequence, after all we don’t have to worry about them punching us in the face, and if they get too obnoxious in their response, we can block or unfriend them at will.

I believe the very same component is what contributes to road rage on the highways, that of separation and anonymity, and this type of primal unbridled behavior is prevalent unfortunately on social media.

Even Christians talking amongst themselves are not immune from this tendency. Too many people take a high horse, "I know everything and you are ignorant" attitude, and they’ll throw out phrases like, "educate yourself, sheeple!" without care. On the flip side, there is also a tendency to "preach to the choir", building online camaraderie amongst people who do share your points of view, by putting down or dehumanizing the people of opposing points of view, with nasty nicknames ("libtards" for example), or juvenile, unkind memes.

Humor is ok and important – just make sure it’s clear when it’s a joke or satire!

Not everything we share online is intended to be factual or sensitive. Let’s face it - sometimes we do share memes that are just plain funny, even political memes that are "a dig at the other side", but intended in fun.

Sometimes as human beings we need that catharsis, and despite my previous comment about juvenile, unkind memes, I think that in some settings and audiences, there is nothing wrong with humorous memes or GIFs, so long as it is in fun and it’s real clear it’s just a joke. But some of the digitally manipulated images circulating, started out as satire, but then get pulled, repurposed and circulated without that context, and what started as a joke becomes the new fake news.

Please be sensitive to who might see it. If you share a political joke that is a dig at the other side, and most of your friends are of the same leaning as you… and the ones that aren’t, you already have gotten to know well enough to feel that they can handle a joke like that, then it’s probably fine to share.

If half your audience is "the other side", then first of all, kudos to you, that you have managed to keep that many diverse friends in the first place. But then also realize that what can seem funny to you can trigger or hurt a lot of others, and ask yourself if the benefit vs. detriment is worth it.

In summary, know your audience.


Avoid prejudice – take more time to get to know whom you are talking to

We tend to be hasty in our prejudging of someone online whom we don’t personally know, and we tend to classify them or put them into a box of what kind of person they are based on only a little information, sometimes just one comment, or their viewpoint just on one topic. In reality people are much more complex, and everyone is unique. Just because they are pro gun ownership, doesn’t mean they are republican, or pro Trump, or pro-life, or meat eaters, or Christian... each of those is a separate and independent belief or quality, and there can be any number of combinations, and nuances even within those. It’s best to really why to know or understand a person if you are going to dialog with them in any meaningful way.

I recently have befriended a man who has a polar opposite political view from me. I, as a Trump supporter, began engaging him in some debates where it was clear he was and still is vehemently anti-Trump. But in our debates and discussions, while sometimes heated, it was clear to me that he is intelligent and often well reasoned in his arguments, and therefore I felt I was able to continue dialoging with him. Eventually we got to taking some of those conversations out of the group forums, into private direct messages.

In so doing, we got to know one another better, each other’s backgrounds, what it is that we believed, and most importantly, issues that we agree on as well as the obvious ones we differ on. It turns out that he is an awesome spirit filled believer, and he could tell my heart is in the right place in that area as well.  We both agreed that is far more important than whether or not we agree on politics, and we have remained friends and Christian brothers ever since. I think we both feel good about it and feel it is a victory, and a practice that others could benefit from – by taking the time to get to know your "opponent" better in these discussions, you might find common ground and realize they are more human than you think.

 Avoid gossip

We all know, or are supposed to know, the dangers of gossip in the real world. Even though it happens, clearly it is not supposed to, and it is undeniably harmful. 

James, the brother of Jesus, said it best in his epistle:

"But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so"

- James 3:8-10

But have you ever stopped to consider that when you share information on social media that is designed to demean or discredit a person, without taking the time to really carefully vet the story you are sharing and being absolutely sure of your facts… you are in fact participating in idle gossip? Such character assassination can have far reaching consequences.  Please be more careful and thoughtful about what you share, and the motives behind wanting to share it - because a lot of "information" circulating is nothing more than gossip.

What else can we do?

For a few years, it has been on my mind to design an online Christian Community that would have some of the best aspects of social network and Bible Study combined, but really be structured in a way that encourages and supports healthy, respectful communication that we can all benefit from.  This is in fact the driving force and aim of this site,, and plans are underway to open enrollment at some point, to a limited scope Bible Study based social community.

It would not replace mainstream social media sites of course, but rather augment or supplement. It is impossible to compete with the existing platforms of the size and scale they operate. But for a small community of several hundred, up to a hundred thousand perhaps, it would entirely be possible to provide a place that would fulfill our desires to connect and discuss issues online, social, political and religious, but in an orderly, proper respectful and healthy way that could really help to grow and edify us.

Here are some of the elements that may make it work:

  • - Proper training and clear guidelines, based on the ideas discussed in this blog and others
  • - Carefully and respectfully moderated, but more community self-monitored
  • - Thoughtful and well organized conflict resolution
  • - Primarily text based posts as opposed to pictures and video, leading more towards meaningful conversations rather than dumbed down memes and juvenile "drive-by shootings"
  • - New members have to be invited to join by an existing member or otherwise vetted and approved by a community moderator, to ensure new members really are believers and sincere in sharing the vision and purpose of the community , and not just haters or random internet trolls
  • - Eliciting feedback from the community regularly as we design and develop new features, in order to ensure optimum experience and benefit for all involved
  • - Keeping the site ministry-focused and donation supported, rather than advertiser supported, to keep the quality of the information and materials relevant to the community.

If you have some ideas to share, and/or think you may be interested in being a part of this, please fill out the contact form to let me know, at:  I look forward to hearing from you.


Last modified on Friday, 26 June 2020 02:25
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Nathan Gopen

Nathan Gopen is a professional software engineer and MIT graduate. He is committed to using his skills in software, multimedia and graphic design to create inspiring and powerful new ways of comprehending and studying the vast riches of God's Word.  He and his wife are also involved in worship music ministry, more of which can be found at:

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