Speak up or stay silent?
It’s an issue I’ve struggled with on Facebook. If you’re familiar with the site at all, you know that your newsfeed tells all of your friends’ actions: Jane is now friends with Joe, Bill likes “Billy Graham”, Tom wrote on Tina’s wall, Lisa likes “Little Rosie’s”.
Okay, I have no problem knowing who my friends are friends with–I’ve found new friends this way.
But when I see that a friend has “liked” a group that I am uncomfortable with, I wonder if I should say something.
For example, recently I learned of a group that’s very name struck me as being prejudiced against immigrants and their lack of fluency in English. As a former ESL teacher, I think I’m qualified to speak on the issue. I was concerned that the group members may have acted impulsively when they clicked “liked” and not thought through the issue clearly.
I wanted to speak up.
Do you know how prejudiced this sounds? Have you looked at the other side of the issue? Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language or lived in a place where you didn’t speak the national language?
It’s not only this issue. There’s the ever-divisive issue of politics, social issues such as abortion or the death penalty, and the groups that have derisive names or use inflammatory rhetoric. I have strong opinions on these. I know I have every right to share my opinion.
But I question the wisdom of sharing my opinion on a public forum.
I have commented on an update that I halfway disagreed with. But in that case, I knew I could have a reasonable discussion with this friend and I did. I walked away with a greater understanding of his position; it was worthwhile to speak.
Another time, John Piper posted an update about abortion. His words were gracious and respectful. The comment thread, though, quickly dissolved into vehement and unprofitable discussion of our president’s stance on the issue; many people were disrespectful and denigrated others.
I read through the many, many comments, and decided to share my opinion:
If you disagree that strongly with Obama, why are you on the web discussing this instead of logging off and praying for him to change his stance?
My comment was the last one. I guess no good Christian could argue that it was better to rant than to pray.
Speak up or stay silent?
- Sometimes the answer is obvious: speak when it’s encouraging and kind, loving and appropriate.
- Sometimes the opposite answer is obvious, too: stay silent when your words would be gossipy, betray a confidence, mean-spirited, or provoke an unnecessary argument.
It’s not so obvious at other times.
- when it’s confrontation that could easily be construed as unloving and judgmental.
- when it makes an inflammatory situation explode rather than subside.
- when it’s not clear whether my words are necessary or if I’m simply venting, arguing for argument’s sake, desiring to manipulate rather than influence.
- when it jeopardizes relationships over an issue where others legitimately disagree with me–the issue has shades of gray instead of a clear dividing line between black and white.
When is it necessary to speak, to share my opinion or stand for truth on a public forum like Facebook or a blog?
When is it wiser to stay silent?
How do you determine when you should disagree with a friend’s opinion or stay silent?