Recently, I got a new phone and it came with Tik Tok already installed on it. I had forsworn it as a Chinese spy tool but curiosity got me and I decided to just watch a few videos. Low and behold, I started seeing videos of Christians praying, of blacks denouncing the Black Lives Matter organization, of pro-Trump and pro-gun people stating boldly their beliefs. I fell in love with Tik Tok. But then, I started to realize something was missing. I hadn’t see a single video from a left-wing liberal.
A creepy feeling overcame me. “How did Tik Tok know what I love to hear?” I still don’t know for sure. I assume they somehow got my preferences from FB or some other profile that has labeled me as a conservative.
I thought this was confirmation that their intention is to divide us. Maybe so. That is certainly what’s happening. But it’s also true that they know we are more likely to use the app if we are hearing ideas that are music to our ears than if we’re listening to people we disagree with. Honestly, if I’d heard a snowflake yelling about systemic racism, I would have deleted the app almost immediately.
This is just human nature. It’s probably always been this way. Social media didn’t create silos of thought. I just digitized them.
In Acts, 22:30 we read about Paul being tried in the Sanhedrin by the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection or angels or spirits. Knowing this, Paul said, “I’m a Pharisee and I’m on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” Here’s what happened next:
“A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued,
‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?’ The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound.”
Did you catch that? They stood up and said, “We find nothing wrong with this man.” Why didn’t they find anything wrong with him? Because he was one of them; he already shared their convictions. Not because they did some intense investigation of the facts, but because he was one of them. The debate over Paul was over. It became an argument over ideology.
I’m not saying that the Pharisees were wrong in their beliefs. I would have strongly been on the side of the Pharisees. What I’m saying is that the argument quickly devolved into a defense of an ideology, not an exercise in judgement. To judge rightly, we have to hear both sides of the story, notice when our beliefs are impacting our position, and then either adjust based on new information and empathy, or stand firm with love.
They ended up having to remove Paul for fear the Sanhedrin might tear him up. I’m afraid we’re doing the same thing to our country. We might tear it up over ideology. I’m worried that these silos that have enabled us to be separated from each other for so long have made it so that there may not be any common ground anymore between right and left. But we still really should try to find it. Otherwise, common ground will become battle ground.
Ultimately, we need to be exposed to both sides of the story. And social media sites need to figure out a way to stop enabling our codependency.
We’ll always be divided. I know that. Unless God acts miraculously and there is a great revival across the land, we will always disagree on the fundamental issues. Christian principles and worldly principles are at odds. They conflict. They are incompatible. But maybe there’s still a way to live together peacefully, without killing Paul?