COLUMN: A world cluttered with words: What are you saying about yourself?

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By Jon Rohr

We live in truly amazing times, when literally anyone can instantly connect with the whole world.  Any opinion or random thought can be posted and shared in seconds.  The technological explosion of the last few years and the rise of things like Facebook and Twitter mean that you can share everything almost instantly.
And people are sharing almost everything.  From what they had for lunch, to how their marriage is failing, they put it out there for the world to see.  They tweet about it on Twitter or update their status on Facebook and reveal everything from trivialities to the deepest secrets of their hearts.
The problem is that we have also in large part become an unedited society.  We have blurred, or perhaps entirely erased, the line between the public and the private. 
Married couples argue, and even break up online, and all their friends can watch the train wreck on Facebook. Teenagers, who really have enough to deal with just growing up, now have to cope with cyber bullying.
Jesus tells us that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mt 12:34 NIV)  And these days we speak with our smart phones and on our blogs.  While a lot of what flies around out in cyberspace is trivial, some of it is hurtful and hateful.
Of course bullying and insensitivity do not need the internet to survive. When we just had regular phones and face to face friends, instead of Facebook friends we could be just as rude and uncaring, but now it’s so public.  Did you know that many, if not most employers, now regularly check the internet when looking at potential employees? 
A careless picture posted online, a thoughtless argument carried on through Facebook and it can cost you a job.
James warns us that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (Jas 1:19-20 NIV)   In these days of instant communication, this is better advice than ever.  Listen first, and take time to think before you respond. 
Be careful what you say, either in person or online. It reveals a lot about you.  Make sure that what you say reveals the best in you, not the worst.