Sitting at my desk while skillfully ignoring my math teacher’s lesson, I penned the words that would cut clear to the heart. It was 7th grade, and I had just received a note from my friend that took put-downs to a whole new level. Now, it was my turn.
We filled our days with the back and forth of mean words. But they always came in scribbled notes, folded neatly with a little tab sticking up that read, “Pull here.” As if the cute folded paper could in some way cushion the blow.
Back and forth it went. One note passed after 1st period, and a response handed back at lunch. Put-downs were an art form. The more we practiced, the meaner the words sounded. The funny thing is – we never would’ve said those words to our friends in person. Somehow, putting them on paper made them seem not real.
Twenty plus years later, those notes seem so distant. You don’t see much note-passing in junior high anymore. Now kids and grown-ups alike turn to cell phones and social media to communicate. And our newfound tools provide an even easier way to be hurtful.
I often thank God that social media wasn’t yet invented when I was in school. I can just bet I would’ve fallen into its trap. The method may be different, but the ease of writing destructive words hasn’t changed a bit. Most of us with social media accounts have seen evidence of this, and some of us have been the victims.
Just like in the past, putting words on a screen somehow makes them seem not real. But they are real, and they inflict pain beyond what we can imagine.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV