I was sitting in church a couple of Sundays ago and noticed all of the trinkets I had stuffed into my Bible. I’ve had the same Bible since I was ten years old, and have continuously added small pieces of paper with reminders, highlight marks, sticky notes, etc. to it over the years. I have everything from a Belgian lace bookmark with a cross that I bought on my first trip to Europe, to a bright metallic key with a Bible verse scribbled on it from Corey Tenboom’s house in the Netherlands. Then, I have a neon orange sticky note that has been stealing the attention from it all the past few Sundays in church. It only has “Corinthians 4” written on it. My interest in it started with just wondering why I felt the need to put a neon orange sticky note in my Bible and ended two Sundays ago when I finally decided to read the chapter. I suddenly realized why that passage required a neon orange sticky note.
In the middle of a stressful weekend full of thoughts of what I needed to do, who I needed to see, what I needed to write, clarity entered my world. In the middle of a week where I felt like I had use every ounce of my energy just to measure up to everyone else around me, the Bible said it all too well: I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.
See, I was so stressed out because I had a million opinions surrounding me in the midst of an already stressful season, and I cared about each and everyone of those opinions. It’s so easy for us to get sucked into what other people think, that by the time we realize we are in that place of submissive acceptance of others’ opinions we are ready to pull our hair out and feel unworthy of grace.
Social media fuels this fire. Social media allows everyone in this entire world to see how, what, where, when you are living your life and then allows them to…drum roll, please…judge it. Social media so effortlessly allows us to sit behind a computer and cast unwarranted judgement on every single person that comes across our screen, friend or foe. And, like it or not, it’s our responsibility to say, “Hey, I’m not going to be that person that is bringing negativity to the scene.”
Now, you might be saying, “But, Marji, I’m not that person on social. I praise my followers and am always positive.” I was semi-thinking the same thing after I read Corinthians two Sundays ago. I only thought of everyone else that has been judging me recently, leaving my own judgements completely out of it. Until, I went to church last Sunday, and the ENTIRE sermon was about not throwing stones at others, and the fact that even if we aren’t actively throwing stones we most likely have some stored up to use when the fire gets hot. That’s when I realized I am just as judgmental as everyone else. Hello.
I am incredible at staying silent at the time, and holding onto something for that amazing moment when I really need a zinger for that person that suddenly gets on my nerves. Unfortunately, that’s just as ridiculous as actively judging others. While I don’t use social media to fuel fires, necessarily, I do keep some things in mind that I see on social media just in case I ever need to make a judgmental case about something.
The Silent Stalker
This is the most lethal type of judge on social media, that strikes when the fire is just right. They watch social media closely, just waiting for the moment that a brand messes up, and then broadcast the mistake to the entire world with no shame.
The Aggressive Extrovert
This is the most obvious judge. This is the person that has no issue calling out anyone and everyone for the tiniest of mistakes or quirks they might have. They love debating and love throwing people and brands under the bus even more.
The ‘I Told You So’ Mother
This the social media expert, or shall I say ‘guru’, that swoops in when a brand or person has made a mistake and quickly tells them that their advice warns against exactly that mistake. They push their books and philosophy on you, and then usually follow up with a blog post over what you could have done better (I am totally guilty of this one).
Think for a moment if you have any of these traits. I am willing to bet that you have at least a couple that overlap the various types of judges. Then, return to the passage from Corinthians: I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.
As much as we love to critique the lives of others, it’s not our job. Shockingly enough, we were not put here to pick apart everything that someone else openly decides to post on social media. What a different community social media would foster if we replaced our silent, or loud, judgments with words of encouragement and hope for those around us.
When you feel yourself becoming judgy online, take a moment to reflect on what’s going on in your own life. Whenever I find myself having any of the traits of any of the judges listed below, I quickly look inward to figure out what is eating at me to make me feel like I have to pick apart others’ lives. In fact, I can link most of the silent judging I’ve done over the past couple of weeks directly to something I’ve been struggling with inwardly during the same time period.
Let’s take some time to make social media a more inviting, friendly environment where people can find healing, inspiration and support. We have an opportunity every time we sign-in to light the lives around us.
– Marji J. Sherman