Our words hold a world of power. Especially when we live our life online.
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:6
We live in a world where our virtual presence — our life online — is just as significant as our physical presence. In fact, our online presence is so much more accessible and public that I would argue it holds even more influence than our physical presence.
Who you are online, shapes the perception of who you are as a person. And because our online presence is cultivated by WORDS behind a computer screen, there’s a lesson in words and kindness that every single PERSON needs to hear.
Our words and our actions determine the outcome of our pursuit.
A video from the inspiration makers at Goalcast is making the rounds on social media, and it’s a lesson in humanity and success that our children desperately need to hear today.
Scanning a classroom full of tweens, the video starts out with a speaker reading real comments that someone their age had written online in response to photos and videos of their peers.
“Don’t you even brush your teeth? I bet the camera is dying of your breath, and like OMG I can say more, there’s so much more things like your ugliness.”
Y’all, kids can be mean. Because people can be mean.
And as much as the problem lies in devices and screens, the fact of the matter is that we all have a choice to make. Do our kids know theirs?
Every single day, with every single encounter — may it be virtually or physically — we have the choice to be kind, or to set ablaze a wildfire that stains the whole body and hurts somebody else. But we have to teach that choice, and equip our kids with the right words and actions — because the outcome of their pursuit could be at stake.
After reiterating that there is a REAL, LIVE person on the receiving end of the things that we write behind a computer screen, the speaker in the video shifts gears from the power our words have in hurting people, to the power they have to destroy our dreams.
“Let’s say that someone in this very room wants to be in the NHL,” he says. ”Because I’m a coach, in this day and age, I can hop on Google, look up your name, and you happen to be someone named Zoran. And I see that Zoran once upon a time, put a comment underneath a video that said, ‘Child, you’re sick. Get help! You’re retarded.’ Do you think in this moment, for me, someone who can give you an opportunity to do something you want in life, I would keep him or cut him?”
He continues, “The fact that I would probably cut this dude before he’s even been told he’s on the team, is exactly why you have an incredible opportunity.”
You see, when we talk with people in person and we get to know them and understand their heart, it’s their actions and how they make us feel that drive the train of influence. When it comes to our online presence though, it’s our WORDS that single-handedly influence the perception of how we might-would make somebody feel.
“If you want to hurt yourself and others, hey, online is a great place to do it.”
I feel like for any parent, there’s two layers to this lesson. The first is that my child’s life online can make or break their dreams.
The second layer is one that has to be taught for the rest of our lives: We aren’t just kind to people online solely to create a perception and thus, protect our dreams.
Sure, kids could walk away from this video thinking, “I’m only going to post nice things online so that the NHL coach, or my future employer only sees how nice I am.”
But there’s no substitute for authenticity. We’re kind to others online because we are simply and genuinely KIND. That’s it. Our motives should never be self-seeking, but rather to love others the way Jesus loved us.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Remember, every single day, with every single encounter, we have a choice to make. May it be virtually, or in person, we have to make the choice to empower others, or tear them down.
A bulldozer is made for destruction. Serving only one purpose: it leaves nothing behind but a trail of brokenness and debris. But building something up brick by brick can lead to a masterpiece.