3. Can I Comment Without Making A Personal Attack?
“You’re an idiot!” is not helpful. And is probably untrue. And is definitely unchristian. (Yes, I’ve read Jesus’ rant in Matthew 23. I’ve also read the Sermon on the Mount. I stand by this principle.)
“They’re an idiot!” isn’t any better. Just because someone isn’t in on the conversation doesn’t make it right to abuse them with personal insults.
Even if they’re in the public eye. Their fame does not exempt us from acting in a Christ-like way toward them. Famous people are also made in the image of God and they deserve the same respect you would want to receive yourself.
We need to remind ourselves that just because someone holds a wrong opinion doesn’t make them a bad person. We can disagree. Strongly. Without demeaning each other’s value as people.
If I can’t offer a counterargument without treating the other person with kindness and dignity, I need to re-assess myself more than I need to offer my opinion.
Especially when I’m a Christian talking to another believer, it’s essential to treat them the way I would want to be treated.
“Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We’d all have a better online experience if every Christian had that verse as their screensaver.
4. Is My Comment Likely To Have Any Positive Influence?
This is a huge one for me.
Even if I’m interested, passionate, have some expertise, and can speak my mind with clarity and kindness, I won’t add to the conversation unless my comment has at least some hope of having a greater positive influence than a negative one.
What that often means is taking the conversation offline.
For instance, a few months ago there was a hot topic in the news about a particular sinful behavior. I was asked why I wasn’t commenting on it, and was even accused of being a coward because I was “staying silent in the face of evil”, as one person put it.
But I wasn’t staying silent. I just wasn’t having the conversation online.
In fact, while everyone was yelling online, I was having face-to-face conversations with a couple people who were truly confused by how to handle the issue within their own family. The reason they came to me was because they knew where I stood on it and they knew I was going to listen and not yell. How did they know that? Because my online behavior let them know they could trust me.