Watch Your Words

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Social media has become one of the most effective ways to communicate with large groups of people. Many people say it is more effective than television, radio, newspaper, etc.

This creates a greater need to be sure that what is communicated is what is intended to be communicated. Like words, messages can be sent in situations where unexpected people hear them and pass them on.

This became evident recently when an employee with Chrysler inadvertently used the Chrysler Twitter account to bad-mouth the hometown of Detroit. This employee expressed his thought that it was “ironic that Detroit is known as the Motor City yet no one here knows how to drive.” (I left out the expletive.) This message mistakenly went out a lot of people. The employee was fired. Chrysler promptly cancelled its contract with New Media Strategies, which was Chrysler’s social media agency.

Chrysler tried to apologize by saying this message wrongly disparaged “Detroit and its hardworking people.” This comes on the heels of all of the positive advertising that Chrysler has done with its new advertising tagline it introduced in a Super Bowl ad in February: “Imported from Detroit.”

There is an old naval term that says “Loose lips sink ships.” Oftentimes people say things and don’t think about what they are saying. In today’s e-mail, computer, social media age – it is easy to write something and not realize where it might end up.

There is the old story about the person who came to the wise man and confessed that he had said some untrue things and would like to repent of them. The wise person said that the repentant person should take a feather and go place it at the doorstep of every home that had been bad-mouthed or hurt by this rumor. The repentant person went and did this. The man came back to the wise person and said that now the repentance was complete, the wise man said, “Not yet. Now go and pick up all of the feathers and bring them back to me.”

Of course the repentant person said that it would be impossible to do that. The wind had blown the feathers to all corners of the village. His point was that words are just like those feathers – once they are said they get blown to all parts of the world.

Most of us need to be more careful about what we say. Someone once said “put a little salt on your words because you never know when you will have to eat them.”

Read James 3, about the power and scope of words. Follow Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4:29. “Don’t use foul or abrasive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (NLT)

Chrysler has one less employee today. I hope Satan has many less employees today!

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