Social media and clickbait culture have encouraged us to believe that we should comment on everything. But should we?
I don’t think so. In fact, I usually think it’s better if we don’t. Why? It generally comes down to one thing. A proverb, in fact. “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions” (Proverbs 18:2, CSB).
Commenting in Ignorance
Take politics as one example. I tend to not delve into politics too often in my writing. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I do write about politics… it’s just that I don’t really feel comfortable commenting on current events too often. There are plenty of think pieces (and far too many hit pieces) already being written from every point of view. The few offering thoughtful commentary, I would highly recommend.1 Most I would encourage you to read literally anything else, because it would be more beneficial.2
I have opinions about politics, including American politics. I occasionally share those opinions with friends. But usually, I prefer to keep my mouth shut online. I rarely feel like I understand situations well enough to write about them. And truthfully, I really don’t feel like I can trust media outlets enough to provide me with the balanced reporting necessary to allow me to understand. Because virtually everything is hyper-sensationalized—and I do believe many across the political spectrum are guilty of this—little of it is useful. So rather than perpetuate foolishness, I want to be quiet… at least until I have enough information to form a well-rounded opinion.
Choosing When to Comment and When to Be Silent
This goes beyond politics, of course. We are all constantly being put in positions where we should be ready with a hot-take or response to whatever we don’t like or disagree with (even if it’s not worth responding to). When a public figure says something stupid, or when Chris Pratt posts anything on Instagram, there’s an enormous pressure to speak up, resist, and take a stand. Or something.
We have to remember that social media is also social engineering. Deeper engagement comes from encouraging us to be outraged, something my friend Chris Martin addresses much more intelligently on a regular basis in his writing.
And while there are many times when we should speak up—and I freely admit that I sometimes err on the side of silence too often—it bears repeating: we don’t have to comment about anything we don’t want to, or we feel ill-equipped to talk about. Rushing in with guns blazing, and pontificating on a shaky foundation isn’t brave or compassionate. It’s foolishness. So when you’re tempted, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a deep breath, turn off social media for a while, and pray for wisdom.
- For example, Trevin Wax and David French are always worth reading.
- You can probably make your own list.