Eternal Words

Every time I read or hear a report of a prominent person’s life complicated by something they tweeted, posted or recorded a decade earlier, I hope the stories are a cautionary tale for anyone desiring to be a media communicator or public figure.

We used to be able to put our foolish, youthful or unwise days behind us.

But no longer.

The world in which we live is one where everything you write is forever saved on the internet. It is indexed and searchable for as long as we all shall live—and beyond.

Stories of people being terminated from their jobs for attempts at humor or expressions of anger in social media are common.

Restaurant servers using social-media posts to poke fun at a customer and subsequently fired. Then sued by the customer.

Employees criticizing their employer and terminated immediately. (As in “walked to their car by a security guard.”)

Prospective employees losing an opportunity for a job because they posted pictures of themselves in unprofessional poses on their personal Facebook sites.

Teachers poking fun at one or more students online and fired.

Racial remarks.

Inappropriate sexual comments.

Criticism of someone’s appearance.

And church pastors are not immune.

I am sure more than a few Christians weren’t hired for certain positions when their opinions, though completely true to God’s Word, made an employer uncomfortable enough to avoid hiring them. (If this happens, I have to think they weren’t the right fit for the Christ-follower anyway.)

Everything you write and create sticks to you like a metaphorical fly to an actual No-Pest Strip.

And it is the book that becomes words chiseled in stone for all to see … forever.

Beginning when words in a book were digitized and uploaded or scanned into whatever search engine used at the time, the words you write have become eternal words, not because they are so important or accurate but because the internet made them eternal, for better or for worse.

And then we add to this situation the current hypersensitivity of the world’s culture where seemingly everyone is offended at something, which up until a few years ago was laughed off or allowed to pass without comment.

Now, words seemingly always cause hurt and many respond by picking up sticks and stones to hurl back.

The issue is one of the many reasons why I caution people for expressing opinions in social media that are not part of their author platform.

Not only will an opinion expressed or joke told offend some of your followers; but the comments will also follow you forever, poisoning the well for years and costing you potential audience members for your words.

Christian authors should always stand up for what their faith says is right, knowing you might offend a number of people. (They killed Jesus you know.)

But authors are performers, media performers. No one has to buy your book. You should do everything to draw as many people to your next performance (new book) as possible.

If you write about healing relationships, growing in one’s faith or even the need to come into a relationship with Christ, why jeopardize your credibility and potential for impact by going off-topic in your author platform and shrinking your audience?

Delete hurtful comments made by others from your social media. Unfollow someone who could damage your profile. Be careful of your online impression as much as you might take care of your in-person impression.

Right or wrong, everything you write is now eternal (humanly speaking of course). The very technology that allows an author to sit in a comfortable chair with a laptop and communicate with millions of readers also tracks and maintains a record of every word you write, every recorded word you speak and every opinion you express for all to see, hear and remember.

Don’t waste words.

Instead, make them to be eternally worthwhile.

 

23 Responses to Eternal Words

  1. Shirlee Abbott October 9, 2018 at 5:09 am #

    I told my kids, “If you wouldn’t shout it down a crowded hallway, don’t put it on social media. If you don’t want to see it in tomorrow’s newspaper headline, don’t post it.” I try to live by WWJT, “what would Jesus text.”

  2. Christine Malkemes October 9, 2018 at 5:14 am #

    A great reminder. We live not in a vacuum and what we say matters – how and w why matter more.

  3. Lisa Evola October 9, 2018 at 5:32 am #

    O, I so agree Dan. I am an artist and mostly dwell in that arena on Instagram. As of late the majority of the artists I cohabitate that social arena with have been speaking out. I dont think there is anything wrong with speaking out for the voiceless, in fact the bible encourages it, and who better than someone who already has an ear.
    But what I am seeing doesnt look like speaking out, it looks more like a blind, uninformed following to push a point of view, more than a plea for justice. The problem I fear is viewing our own opinions as bible truth without actually taking the time to research whether they really are.
    I believe extreme care needs to be taken when posting opinions on platforms. Not only for our own future selves, but also for the potential future of those we are condemning. Spreading an untruth for a good cause does NOT make it ok.
    Thank you for pointing out the impact that our words can have both formally and socially.

  4. Leola Ogle October 9, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    Yes! This post is a definite must read for everyone. Thank you so much, Dan, for sharing this.

  5. Janet Ferguson October 9, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    Great article! The advice in the book of James to be slow to speak and taming the tongue, etc, definitely should apply to the keyboard as well.

  6. Judith Robl October 9, 2018 at 6:43 am #

    Great reminder, Dan. My grandmother was fond of quoting the words below. I do not know their origin and could not find the exact quote with Google. But they are true, none-the-less.

    “Four things that come not back:
    The spoken word;
    The flown arrow;
    Time past;
    The lost opportunity.”

    As writers, we should be aware and behave accordingly.

  7. Julie Sunne October 9, 2018 at 7:19 am #

    “Don’t waste words.

    Instead, make them to be eternally worthwhile.” Amen! Definitely needs to be preached! Thanks for saying it, Dan.

  8. Katelyn S. Bolds October 9, 2018 at 7:25 am #

    Spot on, Dan!

  9. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 9, 2018 at 7:40 am #

    Well, it’s better to keep silent and risk appearing foolish than to speak up and remove all doubt.

    I mean, seriously, we have the First Amendment. And we also have the Fifth.

    And speaking of fifths, with all the posturing moral outrage floating around the world, I need a drink.

    • Judith Robl October 9, 2018 at 8:49 am #

      Ah, yes. Better to keep silent… Another of my grandmother’s favorites. Good to hear your voice today, Andrew. May God be with you mightily today… and always.

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 9, 2018 at 8:56 am #

        Judith, thank you! And I’m so glad I was able to bring you a happy memory of your grandmother.

  10. Cele LeBlanc October 9, 2018 at 7:55 am #

    AMEN & AMEN.

  11. Carol Ashby October 9, 2018 at 8:00 am #

    One practical suggestion for a wiser online presence: don’t let anyone but you post on your Facebook timeline. Even if you are looking at your own timeline frequently, someone could post something there long enough to hurt or offend in ways you’d never condone yourself.

  12. Loretta Eidson October 9, 2018 at 8:24 am #

    So much truth in this article! If we choose our words wisely we shouldn’t have to worry about problems down the road. Thank you for posting, Dan.

  13. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D October 9, 2018 at 9:58 am #

    Excellent thoughts, Dan, and worthy of serious consideration.

  14. claire o'sullivan October 9, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    Good post, Dan.

    I tweet and FB about all things, but am civil and I remove someone’s questionable or blatant words that would be associated with me.

    Block people who can’t keep a civil tongue, as James pointed out. Keep your mouth shut. Paraphrased.

    While I await on a novel that would help spread the Gospel, I don’t hesitate to go to social media and gently sharing or pointing out our illiteracy in Scripture. It’s not the place to argue with the minutia of Biblical understanding beyond the basics.

    Politics- be civil, and yes, I do go there. There are things that should never be done (ie abortion, euthanasia of the elderly, being taxed to death, death tax!). I point out corruption, bring it to light. When false testimony is thrown, I ask, if it is true I agree, please bring me the evidence.

    When people cannot hold a conversation without name calling, they are blocked. When folks threaten the lives or encourage violence, you bet I bring that to light. To not speak up, pray, read Scripture, then yes, we fall on our faces.

    *For author stuff only, I have a separate page.*

  15. Abbey October 9, 2018 at 11:41 am #

    AMEN!!! Thankfully this post will live on forever. I pray many will heed it.
    Thanks for this important post.

  16. Kay DiBianca October 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

    Dan, thank you for this great message. The thing that jumped out at me is the fact that our words are eternal! We should all consider the impact of that statement before we submit our written word to the world.

  17. Beverly Brooks October 9, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

    Excellent blog for a life pause moment. Thank you.

  18. Len October 10, 2018 at 8:07 am #

    You want me to leave a comment here? On social media? I could be sued, maligned, cast out into utter . . . . Your blog has me, like totally freaked out, dude!

  19. Jennifer Mugrage October 15, 2018 at 7:44 pm #

    You are absolutely right about this. It’s a huge problem. Besides the fact that the goalposts of what is acceptable are moving daily, there is also what James said: “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man.”

    We are living in a Big Brother world when it comes to being constantly monitored. I’m sure, now that I said that, it will come back to bite me. Thus, I am saying it while I still can. Which might be a mistake.

    Ever seen the book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?”? Is that where you got some of your terrifying case studies?

  20. Chris Manion October 18, 2018 at 7:57 am #

    Very wil said. Words to live by. I appreciate the cautious instruction.

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