On social networks, particularly Facebook and Twitter in the Philippines, is a proliferation of inspirational quotes and “feel good” messages. I think the use of mainstream media channels to communicate more positive messages is a wonderful thing, especially, since one of the ills social scientists and observers have seen with our social media generation is our withering ability to critically filter what we see online.
Inspiration is a great thing, but we have a problem when we are more moved by inspiration than conviction. We become unstable.
1. The Context – The context of a message is soooo important. There are many great ideas that won’t work today or are not applicable to our specific context. Taking something out of context destroys the intended meaning of that idea.
2. The Credibility of the Speaker – Just because something sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good. We read or hear something and because it “feels” good and it “seems” to resonate, doesn’t mean it “IS” good. It’s like having an uncle who never keeps his word, no matter how eloquently he proposes his inspiring idea, we already know it doesn’t mean much because he’s not credible anyway. A lot of the quotes and ideas out there are not credible no matter how nice they sound simply because the person who thought of them is not credible. Before we drink the intellectual Kool Aid out there, let’s look at who prepared it first. We never know if he mixed it with his finger after scratching his balls.
These first two items can be summarized into one word: THINK. Don’t just react. THINK, THINK, THINK.
3. The Condition of Our Hearts – I’ve seen this in myself, when I’m angry, certain messages resonate better with me. When I’m happy, another batch works better. When I’m sad, another batch too. Depending on the condition of my heart, certain messages hit me differently. I need to resist the impulse, the automatic response, to define my world based on my current condition. I need to humble myself, step back, and say, “God, what do YOU want to tell me? There are all these confusing messages coming at me, and my heart, my emotions, have me confused. Please help speak to me through the clutter?”
This is simply called prayer. We take our life’s experiences to God – NOT to our impulses.
4. Our Calling – We are called to love one another and to build each other up. Here’s a good guide for whether what we see online is worth reading, believing, or sharing:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
There you have it: Think. Pray. Love. I know it doesn’t sound quite as appetizing as the more popular Eat, Pray, Love. But I hope you will take these into account as you explore the many many amazing worlds of the Internet.