Faith, Issue 51, Media, Mental Health

Kill It With Kindness

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Kill It With Kindness

Perhaps you know someone who has been flamed or cancelled online, or experienced cyberbullying and threats. Or perhaps you are that person. What should you do when faced with unkindness online? CAROL LOI, digital literacy educator, mum, and youth coach, shares her personal story and how she overcame getting cancelled. 

Having been active on social media for the past 15 years, I have seen how technology has evolved, and have experienced the good and the bad on social media. I made new friends and caught up with old ones, learned from others’ experiences, and have had opportunities to reach out to people in their times of need. 

However, sometimes social media isn’t a safe place. As I talk to young people, I hear stories of cyberbullying, flaming, gossip, and betrayal, causing them to feel afraid of speaking up on social media for truth and justice in case they are ‘cancelled’ online. I am not exempt from this fear as well. 


Early last year, there was a public discussion on a youth’s experience with gender dysphoria. Perhaps you remember it too. The government ministry involved clarified its position on its social media platform and the post attracted much criticism. I saw the online commotion and noticed that there was a perspective that was missing. The ministry had provided its position, the youth shared their experience, but the voice of the parents of the youth did not surface anywhere. As a digital literacy educator, I have developed the skill of identifying what is missing in a narrative, but was hesitant to point that out in the midst of a heated public argument. As usual, I prayed before engaging in the controversial conversation online, to ask God if I was supposed to be involved.  

Sensing a ‘’yes,’’ I took a deep breath, and put up a short post to thank the ministry for its efforts in managing the situation, and made a call to the public to provide the youth as well as the parents space to discuss and resolve the issue in the best interest of the youth. I was quickly flamed for using the gender pronoun that the ministry used in the post to refer to the youth. I was called names, accused of hating others, and the hate toward me spread to other social media platforms. My friends texted me to show me the posts, and were concerned for me. 

I had expected unpleasant comments, but did not expect the extent of people’s anger, including attempts to discredit and remove me from my capacities in my professional and community work.


Over the years there have been people who threatened my safety on different social media platforms. There were people who tracked down my ministry and wrote to others in my industry with the aim of cancelling me. 


Feelings such as anger, fear, and anxiety were high at the start of such episodes. I would get angry at accusations against me. I was afraid of what the accusers could possibly do to me and my family. I was tempted to also digitally trace the people who tried to cancel me. I was upset that I needed to spend energy to deal with false accusations when I could have been supporting another child, youth, parent, or educator in my professional and community work. It felt like my precious time had been stolen from me and I couldn’t report the theft to anyone.   

I have mixed feelings about such incidents. On the one hand, I really dislike the negative emotions. On the other hand, I have learned that these incidents are great opportunities for me to apply my biblical worldview, asking myself: “Why do I do what I do?”; “How can I do what I do better as an ambassador of Christ?”; and “What is my role in God’s Grand Story through this situation?” These incidents are also excellent opportunities for me to experience what the fruit of the Spirit looks like in practice (Gal 5:22–23). 


Perhaps you have faced the sting of nasty words against you, or the betrayal of having your secrets or images posted online. After reflecting on last year’s ordeal, the following thoughts come to mind, which I hope helps anyone fighting fires online. 


I prayed before I engaged online to ask God if it is something that I should do, and if so, I asked Him to be with me as I did. I prayed during the ordeal when I read what others said about me and found out what others were doing to me. I prayed whenever I felt anger and the temptation to take revenge. 

In the few times when I needed to make clarifications against accusations, I prayed for wisdom to use the right words, doing my best to respond with gentleness and respect. I prayed for those who were angry with me, and was reminded that their anger may not be caused by me, but rooted in their past hurts that they may have experienced. Whenever I engaged with God even as I engaged online, I felt His love and shalom peace, which helped me through whatever emotion or temptation I faced. 

I also rallied others to pray for me. The wisdom and responses from my friends, especially when they prayed for me and sent me verses to meditate upon, greatly comforted me. I was really thankful that God sent people around me in my times of need. 


I was reminded of God’s Grand Story, which culminated when Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Now that I am reconciled with God through Christ, I have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). I am to use all my gifts, talents, and time to reconcile others to Christ. I do not need to engage in every situation, but I am called to do what I can with what God has given me. I want to be an effective ambassador of Christ (2 Cor 5:20), so that even though others may not have read the Bible nor know who Jesus is, when they read my posts and responses to differing opinions online, they should see a reflection of Christ. 


So when I see injustice or falsehoods, I check with God to ask what He wants me to do; sometimes I am to pray for those involved, and sometimes I am to provide perspectives that point others toward truth. At all times, I control myself and remind myself that it is not about me, but about how I am representing Christ.


God reminded me to walk in the Spirit and not fulfil the lust of the flesh that includes hatred, hostility, outbursts of wrath, and conflict. Instead, my life should show the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:16–26). I need not allow unpleasant experiences to draw me into the lust of my flesh, but to seek the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice in guiding me through a difficult ordeal, to overcome and grow stronger because of it. 

Developing the fruit of the Spirit is a lifelong process; the fruit can grow well when we stay in close relationship with God, develop spiritual habits, and stay in healthy communities in Christ who can cheer us on as we grow to be more like Jesus. When online flames threaten to engulf us, we can kill it with kindness, balanced with truth. The attacks against me took a few weeks to cool down and I’ve moved on from the incident. What remains is my desire to be a voice of truth and kindness, and to use social media for good. As we engage online with prayer, may we be a light for Christ!

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