When we tweet or post something on social media, it can be a great avenue to help people stay connected and spark healthy conversation. Unfortunately, it a place where people think they can use their words to display their ignorance, the depth of their depravity, and vulgarity, without any significant consequences. Well, on the internet, “words create worlds,” and one Cleveland Cavaliers fan found out that his words created a world of unemployment for him.
When Sydel Curry, Steph Curry’s sister, said that she, her mother, and grandmother were on their way to Cleveland to watch the Warriors play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, something interesting happened. A Twitter user, who goes by the name @SoftCaramelKiss (he has since deleted his account), went on a profanity-laced tirade directed toward her and other family members. Moreover, he had the gall to aim a homophobic slur at Riley Curry, Steph’s 3-year-old daughter.
Twitter users did not let him get away with this. So, they did a some Colombo investigative work and found out that he worked for Holton-Wise Property Group, an Ohio real estate company. Immediately, the president of Holton-Wise terminated the employee and then wrote an open letter to the Curry family, apologizing for his former employee’s actions.
There are all kinds of social media lessons to be learned from this incident.
Our words create worlds
Life and death and unemployment are in the power of the tongue
If you don’t have anything nice to tweet, don’t tweet anything at all
Nothing dies on the internet
Many people have found out that words are powerful. They can be used to tear down (as in the case of the Cavs fan) or they can be used to bring about healing (as in the case of the President of Holton-Wise). The internet has eyes, watching what we say and do. Colleges have revoked scholarships because of what student-athletes have posted on social media. Employers have fired employees because of a negative or racial post on social media. Networks have canceled shows because of what one band member posted on social media. Employees have had to repay disability money to insurance companies because of what they posted on social media.
This incident reminded me of a powerful passage and message in Ephesians:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
So, what is corrupting talk? The word means rotten or putrid. The word picture is rotten fruit or food. This fruit or food is worthless, harmful, and is not good for anything. It will eventually make people sick. Moreover, these words are like darts that pierce the hearts of individuals at whom they are directed.
So, why do we let offensive words come out of our mouths? From where do these bad words come? Jesus says the heart and the mouth are connected.
A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.
So, based on this verse, our mouths are not the issue. Our heart is. If you change your heart, you will change your speech. As we read, study and apply the word of God to our lives, the Holy Spirit will begin to change our hearts and our words. Then, we will begin to see that the Word will create a whole new world for us.
Paul and others around him certainly knew this. For, when he was an unsaved rabbi, he was “breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). But when he trusted Christ, a change took place: “Behold, he prays” (Acts 9:11). Paul went from “preying” to “praying” in one step of faith! How is your heart? The health of your heart will determine the health of your words.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, the author of Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, has lectured throughout this country on the powerful, and often the negative impact of words. He often asks audiences if they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, another person. Invariably, a small number of listeners raise their hands, signifying “yes.” Others laugh, and quite a large number call out, “no!”
Then, Telushkin responds:
Those who can’t answer ‘yes’ must recognize that you have a serious problem. If you cannot go 24 hours without drinking liquor, you are addicted to alcohol. If you cannot go 24 hours without smoking, you are addicted to nicotine. Similarly, if you cannot go 24 hours without saying unkind words about others, then you have lost control over your tongue.
So, what’s the alternative? The alternative to corrupting talk is to let different kinds of words come out of our mouths.
Words that build up.
Words that heal.
Words that help people to get from here to there.
Words that encourage
Words that appreciate
Words that honor
Words that are wholesome
Words that repair.
Before you tweet or post anything on social media, ask this one question:
Will the words I am about to post build up or tear down another person?
As the old adage says: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You can substitute “tweet” or “post.” If you don’t have anything nice to tweet or post, don’t tweet or post anything at all. Remember, whereas we can change our lives, we cannot change our past. What you post today will live on the internet forever. Therefore, think before you tweet or post.
So, here is the challenge: Go 24 hours without tweeting, posting, or messaging unkind words about others. Only Tweet and post words that encourage, heal, build up, and help people to get from here to there. You will become a reservoir of grace to those who hear and receive your words.
How difficult do you think it will be to go 24 hours without tweeting, posting, or using unkind words about others?