Next month, I will come up on my eighth anniversary on Twitter. Thinking about the amount of time I have spent there, this is perhaps more a reason to hang my head in shame than a cause for celebration. Either way, I want to speak to one moment on Twitter that I am not proud of.
A few years ago, I learned about Ergun Caner and the documented falsehoods regarding his Muslim background. Like others, I saw the fact that he had not repented and was still esteemed by many in American Christianity as an offense to the Bride of Christ. I listened to podcasts. I followed people on Twitter. And one of those people I followed on Twitter was JD Hall.
In early July 2014, I was reading my timeline and noticed that Hall had found Braxton Caner’s account (Ergun’s 15-year-old son) and was confronting him about questionable pictures that he had tweeted. I replied to one of Hall’s tweets (but didn’t tag Braxton) and noted that there was a sign that said Exit 420 in his header photo, insinuating that it was a marijuana reference. Braxton saw my comment and replied that it was the exit for his town. I then mentioned a risque photo in his timeline and asked him whether that was appropriate material for him to be tweeting. He snapped back that it depended on where the viewer’s mind was.
Someone wiser than me suggested that I step away from the conversation, and I did. Within 30 minutes, I had deleted both of my tweets and regretted posting them in the first place.
A little over a month later, Braxton committed suicide.
I felt horrible that I had anything to do with that conversation in July and that I could have caused any heartache for this troubled kid. Since then I have repented to God for my sin of being a busybody and for not truly caring for Braxton. The intention of my tweets was not to speak the truth lovingly to him (which, I think, still would not have been my place in that particular situation), but my attitude instead was immature and fueled by what I thought about his father. It was also plain foolish of me to be confronting a minor I didn’t know online. I think Proverbs 26:17 summarizes my sin well:
Like one who takes a dog by the ears / Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.
My heart goes out to the Caner family; I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. I have many thoughts about how and when we should confront sin or false teaching online, but the purpose of this post is merely to bring my own sin into the light. It is easy to be a chameleon on social media and to “control the narrative” as the pundits say. I don’t want to live that way—online or offline.