Social media’s death of a thousand cuts

Over the past couple of years, I have had a front-row seat to the public execution of neighborly love.


We inflict upon our neighbors an ancient Chinese torture every time we hit send on a negative post. It is called lingchi, or death by a thousand cuts.

While lingchi was an actual method of slow slicing to cause a lingering death, the phrase “death by a thousand cuts” has come to be known as a lot of small, bad things happening, none of which are fatal themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise. (

That’s what is happening to civility in our culture. It is dying the death of a thousand Facebook posts and tweets.

On social media, people no longer have to be polite or courteous to each other unless they agree on a subject. If they disagree, all bets are off.

Continue reading “Social media’s death of a thousand cuts”

Be careful what you choose to post and share

Here are two of my cardinal rules for thriving on social media.


I read a post today about the dangers of Snapchat and a key to the argument was information taken from an almost 4-year-old post by blogger Adam McLane.

In that post, McLane sounds the alarm on some of the problems that plagued Snapchat at the start, mainly its use as a sexting platform.

But Snapchat has grown up since then, something McLane himself pointed out in January 2016.

While being interviewed by an 8th grader about Snapchat, McLane said, “Is your data secure? Yes, it is more secure now than 3-4 years ago. Is it safe for a teenager to use? I suppose that’d be determined by what you were doing with the app, what you were posting, what was being sent to you, etc. I would argue that the vast majority of Snapchat usage at this time is normal social media usage for teenagers.”

McLane continues to warn teens to be careful online — sage advice for all of us — so I want to share two of my cardinal rules for thriving on social media.

Everything Is Public

You must assume that nothing you post on social media is private, no matter what settings you use. The very foundation of this form of electronic communication is sharing — the ability for a piece of content (photo, video, text) to go viral and spin around the world in a heartbeat.

My Rule 1 has always been this: Never post anything on any social media platform that you wouldn’t scream loudly from the top of the courthouse steps with your grandmother standing next to you.

Every time you hit send, you tell the world a little bit about yourself. What is it that you are saying?

Never Share Anything Without Research First

Social media platforms are designed to make sharing easy. With one click, you can amplify any message that you find and we all tend to share messages we already believe.

Unfortunately, that makes it easy to turn social media into an echo chamber. We share what we believe and we ignore what we don’t, until our social media channels do nothing but reinforce our preconceived ideas.

Even if those ideas are wrong.

Rule 2 is this: Never share anything on social media without first completely reading it or watching it and always look to verify the information.

I once saw a well-known bank official share a news story critical of President Obama. I will never forget the “news story” contained a quote from a dolphin.

When you share someone else’s post you are telling the world something about yourself just like when you post something original. Make sure you are saying the right things.

We Are All Creators

Before social media, the world was separated into two groups: People who created content and people who consumed content.

The vast majority of people were content consumers. They watched TV, listened to the radio and read books and newspapers, but they themselves didn’t make videos or write essays for the public.

That has changed. Everyone who posts on social media is now a creator and with that power comes an obligation to post responsibly.

God gave us a guide for what we should think about.

Philippians 4:8 reads: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I can’t think of a better guide for what to post.

Learn to respect your followers and readers

We aren’t making our content for views or clicks or likes. We are doing it for people.


I was reading a Christian blog post tonight that gave advice on how to approach social media. The post was a listicle with seven rules we just have to know to survive in the big, bad world of Facebook, Twitter and all the rest.

Maybe you can hear the sarcasm in that last sentence.

I didn’t start reading with a bad attitude. That didn’t develop until I noticed the click-bait design of the post. I had to click next for each of the “seven rules,” which were fairly short and would have been much easier to read on a single page.

You’ve seen the same design on posts with titles like, “25 Celebrities Who Got Fat” or “The 30 Worst Outfits on the Red Carpet.”

These posts are put together so that you have to click through to a new page for each small piece of information. The page is designed to have a photo and small amount of text surrounded by a bunch of advertisements.

Every time you click next, it helps generate money for the publisher through those ads. It takes a lot of clicks to make money this way, which is why some publishers use this click-bait design.

They don’t really care about the reader, they just care about the clicks.

The Christian post I started reading tonight had the same design on a page with nine ads covering the top, bottom, left and right.

Now I don’t begrudge anyone from making a living. I paid my bills for more than 20 years as a journalist writing for small town newspapers. But in the newsroom you learn to respect your readers … or you learn to do something else.

I think the same has to be true online with our posts on blogs and social media. We have to respect our followers and treat them well.

Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”

In the end, we aren’t making our content for views or clicks or likes. We are doing it for people.

The more we respect them, the more they will respect us.

The alternative is that they will just click escape.

Using your talents to serve the Lord

Each of us has talents and gifts. Like the Newsboys, we make the choice every day to use them for God’s purpose or for our own.


Michael Tait of the Newsboys at the Oil Palace in Tyler, Texas.

I gave my wife Newsboys concert tickets for Valentine’s Day. The first concert we went to together was the Newsboys 14 years ago, so the band holds a special place in our relationship.

Plus, the guys definitely know how to put on a show, which is important to an old rocker like me. Michael Tait owned the stage and drummer Duncan Phillips played while his drum kit turned on its side and started spinning. Loud guitars and lasers, they put on a killer show.

The Newsboys play Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) or what I call Jesus Rock and Roll. Thank you, God, for rock and roll!

But I got much more than a great show with my ticket. I received an object lesson in using your gifts.

Peter wrote, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

I believe the Newsboys concert was an example of what that should look like.

The current lineup of Tait, Phillips, Jody Davis and Jeff Frankenstein are definitely rock stars, make no mistake. My first concert was Billy Joel at the Spectrum in Philadelphia back in 1980 and I’ve seen a lot of big-time acts since then, so I feel confident when I say that the Newsboys would be successful in any music genre.

But they choose to be different than “mainstream” musicians in some important ways.

For instance, next to the booth selling concert t-shirts (yes, I got one!) was a booth helping people with a free prayer app, and before the concert began, someone came out and led the audience in prayer.

Between the opening act and the Newsboys, a pitch was made for ChildFund International, an organization that “protects children’s well-being by strengthening relationships among children, parents, community members, local organizations, teachers and schools, governments and others.”

And this wasn’t a quick one-liner to glorify the band. It was an involved presentation built into the format of the concert and ChildFund information was available all over the venue.

Real people stepped up to help children in need across the world that night — and every concert this tour — because the Newsboys are using their God-given talents to improve the world.

Each of us has talents and gifts. Like the Newsboys, we make the choice every day to use them for God’s purpose or for our own.

Paul urged us to work with all our hearts for the Lord and not for men. (Col 3:23)

So, who are you going to serve with your talents?