Whoever first said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” was obviously unaware of modern-day social media.
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, there seems to be a keyboard courage that leads people to write things online that they’d be far-less-likely to say face-to-face to their victims.
That’s why cyber-bullying is such a problem in our midst, and it seems that our authorities seem unwilling or unable to do anything to stop it.
Our political leaders are often the target of ‘mean tweets’, the kind of bullying that is condoned and encouraged by the general populace.
It must be hard for the politicians and public figures to endure the direct attacks themselves, but the cost for their families is too great.
Words are powerful, and can have a genuinely physical impact on those who hear them.
Tragically, we saw another example this week when Wilson Gavin, a 21-year-old activist, was so brutally attacked online that he chose to take his own life.
Words of hate are felt like daggers in the heart.
This is why James wrote that, “among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:6).
It is a sober warning to all people that we must be wise and loving with how we speak and what we write online.
For as we read in the Psalms:
Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. (Psalm 34:12-14)
(Photo credit: Leo Hidalgo via Flickr)