Last week I had the chance to hear Kim Karr share about a program that she co-founded. It’s called #icanhelp and its purpose is to help delete negativity and cyber-bullying on social media. This program was started in response by a student who was inspired to do something about a fake and damaging Facebook page that was created on a local teacher. You can learn more about the organization by going to their website: icanhelpdeletenegativity.org
One of the sessions was directed towards 5-8 graders and the evening session was for parents and students. What I noticed right at the very beginning of the first session I listened to is the huge impact and presence of technology and social media with youth today. The scope of it is a bit scary! Students in the 5th grade are now able to access social media through various apps that are available to them. The sad reality is that social media pages are far too often a place for negativity and obscene images and postings from students. During the session with the middle school students Kim had all the students hold a piece of paper in their hands and then crumple it every time they heard a word that made them feel bad. In less than five minutes a majority of the students had their paper crumpled into a ball. Wow! What a powerful illustration of the power of our words!
The first part of Proverbs 18:21 says “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Our tongues and the words we form with them and speak to others can bring death or life. The words we say can either build others up or tear them down. As a disciple of Jesus, a husband, a dad, and a pastor, the stakes are pretty high for me when it comes to what words I’m saying! The reality of social media is that youth are posting what their mouths are already saying. The thoughts are already in the mind and then they appear on-line for everyone to see. Social media is a means of being “heard” or making sure someone specifically hears what we are “saying” with our post or comment. It’s the primary way youth communicate to others and express themselves.
The desire of the #icanhelp campaign is to use social media in a positive way to bring hope, value, and life to others. There was so much good content that I can’t possibly cover in this post, but in everything I heard talked about I was reminded that my words can “crumple or un-crumple” those around me. It has to start first in my home. Then with those I minister to. Finally, when I choose to make my “voice” heard on social media am I trying to bring death or life? Am I prone to operate in the positive or negative. The words we use have power and they will make an impact. The question for you and I in our lives and on social media is this: What kind of impact will they make? Do we really realize the power of our words?