Welcome to the comment section on Facebook. This section has the ability to bring out of obscurity the most intelligent, passionate arguments seen in modern media but also doubles as a breeding ground for the uneducated and unethical. Opposites attract, after all. It’s a wonderland of ideas from the edgeless confines of the internet, equipped with emotive language and no shortage of expletives.
A fair warning, I’m going to be talking about LGBT+ issues. Kindly hang your carefully curated biases on the coat rack- you can collect them later when you’re finished reading. Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you what side of the white picket fence you should sit. But if you’re sitting on the fence itself I am telling you that it’s splintering and you aren’t going to be able to sit on it comfortably much longer. The world is calling you out to react. In particular, on Facebook. And we could definitely do a better job at it.
You’ve probably heard the news already. It’s the first Sunday of May and that means it’s fast and testimony meeting. 12 year old Savannah gets up to the pulpit before anyone else and lets the words that she’s rehearsed finally Come Out and echo into her chapel in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
But before she can finish, Savannah’s Stake President turns off the mic and asks her to take a seat.
When the news got out, friends and ‘phobes from all corners of the internet metaphorically congregated in that chapel. Some covered their eyes, some stood up in uproar as they watched the events unfold through a low quality video on their Retina screens. Now again, I’m not concerned about whether you support Savannah’s testimony or not but what really makes my fingers itch with keyboard warrior-itis (yes, it’s contagious) is the plethora of unfair comments to issues like this.
To illustrate let’s look at the following comments I’ve grabbed from the CNN Facebook comment section in their July post about Savannah.
Micheal Mills gives an emotive Christian view but there’s nothing too extreme about it:
“We can’t force God to accept what He dislikes. We should be the ones to obey His word and not us trying to force our beliefs on Him.”
Jacob Robinson’s comment however, the second most popular comment, contains more intense language:
“Here we are, fake gay. Kids are now so in tune with what their parents complain about that they think it is “cool” to be gay when they have no idea or shouldn’t have any idea of what being gay is. When I was 12 I just wanted the new GI Joe stuff.”
And Rod Allen’s comment leaves little to the imagination:
“Only cnn would report this trash! All you care about is ratings and this proves it! Cnn reporters are all scum! #fcnn #cnn=fake news #trashreporters”
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing in the last 2 comments that resembles Christ in any way and this would be a problem if said commenters were indeed Latter-day Saints or other Christians.
More and more media is published which challenges Christian standards and protocol and we will have to eventually respond to the call to “write a comment…”. But the manner in which we respond is so important, if not vital to our call to “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.”
And I understand that it can be difficult to respond to controversial left leaning issues. (By the way, I’m not disclosing my political stance, but if you wanna talk about it, just flick me a message). I know, because I was called out to the Facebook Hot Seat last week. A long time friend of mine wanted my opinion on The Savannah Incident. Add a spin on this, this friend used to go to church with me, and I have always felt in a small part personally responsible for her departure. So you can imagine my predicament when she simply asked if I had any thoughts on the subject. Whilst she probably meant it in a nonchalant way, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking she might as well have asked, “Are you all just old-fashioned bigots?!”
In all things, my suggestion is to simply look at your green CTR ring or your friend’s What Would Jesus Do bracelet. What would Jesus do? What would our loving Savior really say?
Most of you reading this are students and I assume despite the academic integrity you possess, majority of you are on social media for at least a little while when you say that you’re studying. You have the power to represent the Savior in everything that you do online, so why not rise up to the challenge and speak with the power, authority, love, kindness and fairness that Christ embodies?
I want to see Latter-day Saint comments in the comment section Liked, Wow’d and respected, not Angry’d or proliferated by a dozen of replies that debate incessantly about errors in judgment, discrepancies in language and are ignorant of other perspectives present in society.
The comment section is not a playground for the faint-hearted. If you want to stand up for truth and righteousness, you’re going to have to think twice, thrice or ten fold if you want to make an impact and “thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.”
This post was originally my op-ed assignment for my BYU writing class. It was tailored for a Mormon audience, hence the jargon that might not make sense if you aren’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All views are my own personal opinions, and not representative of the Church.