Get Dr. John Neufeld's broadcasts in your inbox
Receive the daily broadcast in your email every weekday morning
Times to Speak & Times to Be Silent
There Are Times To Speak & Times To Be Silent, Even In The Social Media Age
Scrolling through social media commentary, particularly in this day and age, has become quite daunting and an outright downer. You may come across a tweet that says, “I love you!”, captioning a picture of a couple in love with heart-hands in the forefront (cheesy, I know). Then, as we scroll past the next 10 tweets, all of them are spewing bitterness, anger, pride, and lumps of not-so-nice-things-to-say. Social media is evidence that we all have so much that we want to say, but so few of us have anything worth saying.
As a Star Wars enthusiast, one of the greatest travesties of the Saga is a daft Gungan known as Jar Jar Binks. Come to think of it, I’ve never been in a conversation about favourite Star Wars characters where someone blurts out, “I love Jar Jar!” Nope. Never. Why? Too many reasons to list, but for continuity sake, here’s the main reason for me: the guy just won’t shut up! Does he actually EVER add anything of value with his ramblings? It’s like when I was in college and had a 10 page paper to write about a topic worthy of just one paragraph. What did I do? Hyped it up, of course! Filled it in with flowery words and “examples” that were unnecessary. Well, Jar Jar is that fluffy stuff in the Star Wars Saga. He says a lot of words, but with no impact.
Are we not all like Jar Jar on occasion? This applies to me, you, and Jar Jar alike. If you have a mouth to speak or fingers to write, you’ve likely said some really stupid, worthless words that simply wasted space in your story. Some of these words may have never been cruel, false, or harmful; they were simply inconsequential. Just like fluff in a school research paper, we often share thoughts and words that were never worth uttering.
The other day, I scrolled past a tweet that had me thinking, “But why share this?” I didn’t even concern myself so much with the ethical context of their tweet as much as the necessity of the comment. Why share it? Why say it? What are you gaining? Who is benefiting? Is there a positive change that will be sparked through this thought shared with cyberspace?
“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” ― Robert Frost
Back to Jar Jar Binks. As Robert Frost suggested, there are those who have nothing to say, but who keep on saying it (see: Jar Jar). And yet, true Star Wars fans will agree that there’s another character we wish would have spoken more: Darth Maul. Admit it, you wish he would have had more stare-down-with-brooding-voice moments with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Instead, we heard practically nothing from him other than the sound of his light saber as it sank into Qui-Gon like a skewer (Oops…spoiler alert!).
Have you ever felt as if you had something that you wanted to say and that needed to be said, yet you were terrified of what people would think if you actually said it? These are the moments where we must learn to speak our minds in love, share our hearts in truth, and leave the rest to God. So many people are in need of hearing words of hope, life, encouragement, and conviction, yet will we be bold enough to speak?
Just as there are moments for boldness, there are moments where we need to utilize wisdom and ask ourselves, “Are the words I’m about to use going to uplift or tear down, build or destroy?” It’s usually self-examination that we like to avoid when we’re in a heated debate with someone on social media, because self-examination convicts us. I’ve said some cruel things in the midst of an argument when I spoke through my emotions, not wisdom.
It’s easy to share our thoughts all over the social media stratosphere without actually examining the message that will be received. Yet, if we are to be influencers and creators of culture in our generation, we must be wise in what we think, intentional in what we say, and loving in how we speak.
This article was originally written by Andrew Voigt and is available on his blog.
Andrew Voigt is a writer and blogger who engages in conversations about God, brokenness, and what it means to be human. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC and is a self-renowned root beer and coffee enthusiast.