I will be the first to admit that I love social media. I update my Instagram every other day and I use Facebook daily. I feel pretty good about my knowledge about the latest memes, viral videos, and events in pop culture. I see the beauty in social media, and I like to think that I take full advantage of it. But, social media also has a dark side.
As of late, my Facebook feed has been covered in hashtags, 30 second videos, and emotional blog posts written from all sides about abortion, women’s rights, the refugee crisis, racial inequality, and the sufferings of the LGBTQ+ community. One would have to be crazy if they were to say that they did not feel overwhelmed by it all. How can you not be overwhelmed? I want to share an article in support of one friend’s stance on a social issue, but my support for that person may feel like a slap in the face to another. Quite frankly, I’m afraid to even click on anything controversial because I know that someone is watching me, taking cues, and trying to figure out where I stand on these topics.
In such a divided world, I understand that silence simply isn’t enough. I cannot remain silent while millions of people around the world are being removed from their native countries, and being placed into foreign lands with strange languages, people, and cultures. I cannot remain silent while many racial minorities feel slighted by the election of our 45th president. I cannot simply say nothing when women don’t feel heard, when queer people feel at odds with their faith, and when my white friends are afraid to converse with me in the midst of severe national tension.
At the same time, where is my place to speak? Do I speak up for every single issue that I have some sort of opinion about? Do I spark debates on Facebook in order to be sure that my opinion is heard? Is it okay for me to disregard anyone’s feelings as long as the world knows where I stand? Do I as a racial and sexual minority have an obligation to speak up in troubled times? Do I as a Christian have the duty to declare God’s Word at every point of conflict? These are the questions that I have not yet found the answer for.
Is it worth being heard in a world that seems very concerned with voicing an opinion without listening to the opposing side? Is it worth speaking up if no one can hear me over the sound of their own voices? Is it worth becoming a bystander to social injustice and the destruction of a family? Is it worth becoming apathetic in the face of ignorance and hatred?
I don’t know. I am clueless about most of these issues and I am afraid to learn more. I see lots of people with bold opinions, but I question whether they are actually informed, or just too afraid to be proven wrong. I see lots of people who remain silent, but I question whether they are wisely avoiding pointless conflict, or if they are just too afraid of the tension.
I choose to speak. However, I choose not to rely on my words to dominate the conversation. I choose to lean on my actions to do the talking. I will let the way I conduct myself to become a protest to those saying that there will never be another African-American president. I will let compassion become a picket sign to those suggesting that Muslim lives are not as valuable as a Christian’s life. My love will be a testament to the fact that it is possible to listen to others in a very noisy world. And by the grace of God, my life will be a story of how one can still love Jesus and practice His commandments in a world that teaches you that the key to success is pride.
In today’s world, I think it is vital that our actions become our words; that talking would not be the end goal, but rather we could focus on practical steps in creating a better world. I dream of a time when our boldness and aggression would not be the marks of righteousness, but rather our ability to love our neighbors would make clear what is right and wrong. I choose to let my actions speak for themselves. I choose to let love dominate the conversation.
Is this enough? Maybe. Maybe not. But at the end of the day, I have to ask myself which is more important: being heard, or hearing others?