I seem to harp on this a lot, but there’s a reason. The tweets just keep happening. Grant it, these tweets are from years ago, but they resurfaced over the past couple of days. The Atlanta Braves’ relief pitcher Sean Newcomb made some tweets a few years ago (I haven’t read them, and don’t want to read them) that are described as racist, homophobic, and sexist. These tweets according to the Associated Press, were sent in 2011 and 2012, six and seven years ago. This means they were typed out when Newcomb was 17 or 18 years old (or there about). He claims, youthful indiscretion and apologized stating that he doesn’t really believe those things he tweeted, but was having fun with friends. I don’t know Sean Newcomb and so I’m going to take him at his word. We’ve all said and done some things that we later regret. We’ve all said things in sarcastic or satirical ways that if someone were to hear or read those words, not knowing us, would think we were serious. Here’s my point: don’t do it on Twitter (or any other social media platform).
Mom’s used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” In our digitized, internetized, twitterized world, the new mantra will be, “If you can’t tweet anything nice, don’t tweet anything at all.” That’s some good advice. No one knows what the future holds. Sean Newcomb didn’t know that he’d be pitching for the Braves in 2018. He probably didn’t even think about the tweets that he sent at the age of 17 or 18. If he did, he probably thought that they were buried under a trillion other tweets he posted since then. But they surfaced and now he is answering for them. Can we not forget Solomon’s wisdom, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent,” (Proverbs 10:19, ESV). Surely, we can see how this applies to our social media accounts. When tweets are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his tweets is prudent.
People have lost their jobs, have lost potential jobs, have had death threats, have lost fans and followers, have lost influence and a “seat at the table,” and more because of not thinking before tweeting. Do you remember Justine Sacco? She was headed from New York to South Africa in 2014. During a layover in London, she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white.” By the time she landed from her 11 hour flight, she had become the number 1 trending topic on Twitter. One of the responses (after her friend Hannah attempted to delete the tweet and Justine’s account), said, “Sorry @JustineSacco, your tweet lives on forever.” It was no time before she was fired from her job. She was infamous. Her life was ruined.
Jesus said, “I tell you on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned,” (Matthew 12:36-37, ESV). The words that come from our lips (especially the careless ones–the ones that just come out without forethought–the uncalculated words) are revelations of our hearts. They show what sin lives down in the recesses of our souls. Our careless words will be held against us on the day of judgment, but be assured that doesn’t mean that they won’t be held against us before then. Those careless tweets often come back to haunt us in this world, but will definitely come back to haunt us at the judgment.
Let this be your mantra: If you can’t tweet anything nice, don’t tweet anything at all. Perhaps it’s an over-simplification to the problem. Perhaps it sounds ludicrous. Perhaps it’s over the top. But too many lives are ruined by thoughtless, careless tweets and posts. Be careful out there; the next person could be you. Your tweet lives on forever…