Social Issues

When it’s okay (and necessary) to be silent

I used to think that anyone who stayed silent about trending topics simply didn’t care about them. I’d scan Facebook after mass shootings, the killings of unarmed black men, or after Donald Trump said something distasteful, and see who was calling it out. Who was using their platform to pay homage, increase awareness, or correct misinformation? Who was putting themselves out there for criticism for the sake of a noble cause?

Don’t Add To The Noise

Here’s what I understand now that I didn’t always: while social media can be a useful tool for education or engagement, too often it just adds to the noise. As humans, we’re only capable of processing so much at a time. Add a pandemic that just won’t quit on top of kids to pick up after and work that needs to be done, and it’s completely understandable to just not have the bandwidth for more hard things. 

This is especially challenging for the “influencers,” or anyone involved in some kind of leadership. When people look up to you, you’re expected to say something. You’re expected to have an answer or a word of guidance. But what happens when you don’t? What if an issue is too complicated to figure out right away? What if there’s a mountain of research to scale before you can have an informed opinion?

The trend of social media “hot takes” ruins relationships. It forces people to make up their minds quickly while something is “trending” without doing the work. That’s a process that cannot be forced.

Your “Real Life” Relationships Are First Priority

I may feel some sort of responsibility for leading the people who follow my work, but I will never be able to influence them the same way I influence my husband, my close friends, and my family: my real-life connections. The same is true for you.

Your kids will learn by example if they hear you admit, “I don’t know enough about that topic to have an opinion just yet.”

Your Bible Study can learn from hearing you talk about looking up different commentaries and scholarly writings on a doctrinal issue so you can understand all the nuances. 

Your spouse may witness you closing your laptop because you don’t have to show up to every online argument, simply because you were tagged for your thoughts.

Your followers won’t see any of that. You aren’t doing them any favors by using social media as the primary tool for processing Hard Things. That kind of work needs to happen in private. It won’t earn you any “likes,” but it will earn you more respect in the long run. 

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash


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