The Archbishop of Canterbury claims that disagreeing on social media is against the Bible’s teachings.
The Most Revd Justin Welby published a blog post on Wednesday where he expresses concerns for online disputes, suggesting platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs are not the best place to settle disputes.
The Lord Archbishop’s post, titled “On tweeting and touching,” examines the “process of reconciliation” and the growing usage of digital media to do just that; to discuss, debate, and argue. He asks what impact resulting negativity can have on the “soul” and remarks how disagreements can be truly damaging, adding that online communication can amplify problems, rather than cure them.
The Rt Hon Welby explains further: he says “electronic media” lacks the “subtleties, tone, and access” of the real world.
The subtleties we lose when we communicate electronically have to do with expression, with touch, with the face-to-face aspect of relationship. Social media does not show tears in the eye, a hand on the arm when saying something painful, body language that speaks of inner turmoil, deep distress — even gentle respect. It is simply there — usually forever.
The Lord Archbishop says that going through disputes in the digital sphere — or, more broadly, without personable actuality — is not the way the Bible teaches us to behave.
According to the Christian scripture, the best examples of disagreement and strain are dealt with personally, he writes. Lord Archbishop Welby then cites an example from the religious text, which talks about personal meetings: “Print and electronic media is often just static and there”, he says, “locking us into a permanent present tense that hinders healing”.
Love often says don’t tweet. Love often says don’t write. Love often says if you must rebuke, then do so in person and with touch — with an arm around the shoulder and tears in your eyes that can be seen by the person being rebuked.