Imagine being the president of a country and receiving news that the leader of a neighboring nation (with more than three times the population of your country) is launching a full-scale attack on your people.
A month ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was thrown into this situation. Since then, he has convinced many European countries, along with the US, to offer economic support for Ukraine’s resistance against Russia.
How did he accomplish this?
The most prominent way was through social media. In the thick of an onslaught, Zelensky took to social media, asserting that he needed ammunition to fight instead of a ride to safety.
President Zelensky chose to risk his security and safety in the most daunting of crises. He continues to show great love for his people. And, as Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV). The president of Ukraine is certainly showing that sacrifice in defending his country’s citizens by putting himself in danger.
Many people, including writers at the LA Times, are declaring him a global hero. President Zelensky’s decision to use social media as a means for gaining support was the right one. And, hopefully, his strategy will help provide his country with a way back to peace.
Is social media worth the negativity?
Zelensky’s positive use of social media shows that social media can help good causes.
But it can also cause immense harm.
In “How can we combat the expanding problem of cyberbullying?,” I covered the severe impact that such bullying can have upon the bullied.
This raises the question: Is social media ultimately good or bad for society?
The positive aspects of using social media
Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and communications expert Mark Robert Waldman affirm that angry or negative words send alarm messages to the brain and collapse its logic/reasoning centers. In fact, it only takes one negative word to release dozens of stress-producing hormones.
We as a society should do our best to refrain from being belligerent toward our neighbors online.
However, research indicates that a flood of positive, affirming words can produce a healthier environment on social media and balance out the presence of negativity.
Therese J. Borchard with PsychCentral agrees with Newberg and Waldman: positive words can improve the brain’s cognitive functioning and propel its motivational centers. Newberg and Waldman add that positive words can cultivate joy.
In addition, there are other positives that social media enables a person to do:
- “Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world.”
- “Find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions.”
- “Join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues.”
- “Seek or offer emotional support during tough times.”
- “Find vital social connection if you live in a remote area, for example, or have limited independence, social anxiety, or are part of a marginalized group.”
- “Find an outlet for your creativity and self-expression.”
- “Discover (with care) sources of valuable information and learning.”
From this list, someone could find multiple reasons for using social media frequently. Moreover, the capability to communicate with distant friends, promote business, and have an outlet for expression promotes connection.
Human connection through social media can benefit relationships, an important aspect of human life. We were designed to be relational beings. Additionally, Scripture equates unity between God’s people to being pleasant and good and points out that the Lord bestows his blessing within those relationships (Psalm 133:1–3). God’s word also points out that people should support one another after falling down (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10).
Negativity and cyberbullying do not have to overwhelm social media.
It seems social media’s ability to contribute to positive mental health and be a space for connection makes it a good outlet for positivity in this world.
“You are the light of the (globally connected) world”
Scripture should serve as a motivator for Christians to use social media in a positive way. In Matthew 5:14–15, Jesus describes his followers as a lamp on its stand, which gives off light to everyone in the house.
Have you ever thought about the purpose of light?
There might be many ways to describe the role it serves. Simply, though, light makes visible what is unseen.
In a world plagued and overwhelmed with negativity, we as lights should point others to the One who is often unseen: Jesus Christ.
When people come across our posts on social media, there is no telling what they might be going through at that moment. They might be in the thick of a trial. But our light-producing pictures and comments could connect them to Jesus, who offers a relationship that culminates in an inheritance that puts an end to all struggle and presents everlasting joy (1 Peter 1:4–7)
If we make a valiant effort to be lights on social media platforms, we could not only serve as positive forces in this world, but people across nations could encounter the Person who can give them an eternity full of light and positivity.