Selective Outrage and the god named “Social Media”

If you frequent social media then selective outrage is not a new concept for you, because you are constantly flooded with examples of it…

I actually posted on Facebook about this over a year ago. Remember when Harambe was killed? I bet you haven’t thought about that in a long time due the amount of outrage that has popped up since then. Well here is some of what I said:

“This new culture of selective outrage is about the dumbest thing since the Roman Coliseum. Basically our culture has returned to the ignorance of the masses that existed in the Roman Empire. We are the most school educated and socially ignorant society that has ever existed up to this point. We know a lot of things about everything, except how people should actually live together. Technology has simply reverted us to a place of base humanity. We’ve become barbaric in how we treat one another and react to our fellow humans. We can’t hold normal conversations about serious issues anymore. And that’s just sad. We should all be sad.

“I wish people were this passionate about things that mattered in life. Like their marriages, and families, and Jesus. If we had this sort of passion about seeing our world actually be a place where people are loved, supported, and matured – then maybe we wouldn’t have ever had this incident to begin with. Maybe we could redirect all this wasted energy into something productive? Here’s to hoping…”

Here is the common denominator in all our cultural social media wars:

Most seem to care deeply about our opinions on current issues (and boldly declare to everyone where we stand).

Few seem to care deeply about the people we disagree with about that issue (and typically try to demonize those people).

This is evidence of our worship of Social Media as we use it to promote ourselves at the cost of others.

Concerning the first 2 statements:

If you claim to be a Christian, and if you cannot separate your feelings about an issue from your feelings about a person or people, then we have a problem. And likely, you should be concerned that you may not have the Spirit of God in your life – or at least not leading your life. Before you go attacking me about this, let’s look at what God has to say.

Here is a quick overview of a few Scriptures that teach us about quarreling, fighting, being angry, and name calling – which are all aspects of our current culture of selective outrage:

Proverbs 20:3 [NLT] – “Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.”

Matthew 5:22 [NLT] – “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Romans 13:9-14 [NLT] – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law…Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

2 Timothy 2:23 [NLT] – “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.”

So we must watch ourselves closely. Mostly because our selective outrage not only affects our witness as Christians to the world, but also reveals a lot about what is inside of us. And because too many of us think that just because we can do something, that we should – but that is false, and un-Biblical (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Concerning the 3rd statement:

Christian, stop worshiping at the altar of your Social Media.

You might feel like that is harsh. But I am speaking to all of us as modern American Christians – myself at the top of the list.

We have bowed our knees and lives to the god of Social Media. How do I know?

Where do we run when we feel lonely?

Where do we look when we are seeking affirmation?

Where do we go to share our concerns, our needs, our desires, and our questions?

Where do we spend the majority of our time throughout the day?

You would think Paul taught us to check social media “without ceasing” instead of praying…

The root of our sin

If you think this is difficult to hear, I know. It hit me first! I am only sharing what I have been feeling God confronting me with in my own life. But we need to think deeply about what Social Media is doing to us and how it is distracting us!

The sinfulness of selective outrage is rampant among believers on Social Media. And if you think God is just overlooking these actions, you are wrong. If you think God is ignoring what you post, the anger with which you comment, or the condemnation you feel when you share or re-tweet, then you are sadly mistaken.

We have allowed this to go on for too long without confronting and rebuking this sin. And what is the sin at the core of this issue? Pride.

The desire to be heard. The desire to be seen. The desire to be right. The desire to be popular. The desire to be like God and stand in judgment of those we deem beneath us.

I know this sin well because I constantly have to identify it in my own life and overcome it by the Spirit’s power. It’s like a lion that we keep in a cage like a pet, when what we should do is kill it. But we don’t, because whether we admit it or not, we kind of like how it make us feel when we let it out to play.

Social Media, and more so your pride, is killing you from the inside out. And your use of social media might be influencing other people’s eternities, as they see someone who calls themselves a Christian and yet behaves like the Devil’s second cousin on social media. Watch out my brothers and sisters that you do not cause someone to stumble on account of your pride. Heed these words from Jesus’ own brother:

James 3:2-12 – “For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

“We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

“But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.”

So what does Christian love look like in the era of social media selective outrage?

If Jesus had a social media profile, I’m pretty sure he would see all of the hatred Christians are spreading with their participation in the current culture of selective outrage and call us “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

Matthew 23:28 [NLT] – “Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy…”

A Christian approach to what is happening has to look different than what we are seeing. It should look like taming our tongue: not commenting on someone’s status you are angry about, not posting about a divisive issue just so people can know your opinion, not sharing articles and memes that are clearly filled with hate, and so on.

It looks like compassionately listening to people and putting ourselves into their situation. Not immediately reacting based upon your own opinions, judgments, presuppositions, or preferences. But taking time to live as Jesus lived – “eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34) with those we disagree and are looking to understand.

It looks like laying down our lives, rights, and feelings, so that we might display for the world the same love that Christ displayed for us.

About the author

Drew Anderson

Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Friend. Mentor. Spiritual Director. Consultant. Coach. Student. Communicator. Organizer.

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