Tuesday, January 10, 2023

If Social Media Had Been Around in the Days of Solomon

"Get me a sword. Cut the baby in half."--King Solomon

One of the things I've observed about social media--especially Twitter, though other platforms as well--is that some people have to weigh in with opinions on every single thing. Many of these people feel compelled to weigh in as quickly as possible, totally forgetting the admonition to be quick to listen but slow to speak.

This means that we don't see a lot of nuanced thinking taking place. People want to react fast and first, which means that quite often there is little thought at all, and seldom any effort to determine if what they're reacting to is even true.

This past weekend I was reading the famous Old Testament story about King Solomon, who was labelled the wisest man that ever lived. This seems like a hard title to live up to, but the Bible illustrates an example here to substantiate this claim. Here's a paraphrase of the story.

Two prostitutes came to the king seeking help resolving a private conflict. The two women lived in the same house and had each had a baby the same week. During the night, the one woman unintentionally crushed or suffocated her baby by lying on him. To solve this matter she switched the babies. Naturally the mother who had her baby stolen recognized that the dead child was not the one she gave birth to. The other woman, however, was adamant and claimed the living one was hers.

They brought their argument to the king, the true mother of the baby telling her side first. The other woman, who accidentally killed her infant son presented her side next. After listening to each Solomon said, "Bring me a sword." He then ordered one of his underlings to cut the living baby in half and give half to each.

The true mother of the living child was practically hysterical and said, "Give her the living baby. Don't kill him!"

The other woman seemed quite satisfied with the verdict and said, "Go ahead, cut him in two."

Solomon announced, "Give the baby to the first woman. Don't kill him; she is his mother."  

Within minutes, though, what Solomon had initially said had been posted on Twitter. In less than an hour it had gone viral and had over one million views and re-tweets that went like this: "King requests sword and says 'Kill the baby!'"

Other Tweets said that the Solomon himself killed the baby. By the time the actual true account appeared in the Jerusalem Post, everyone had already concluded that King Solomon was a beast and the Post story must be fake news, probably planted by the Philistines.

* * * 

Obviously I made up the last segment here. What this Old Testament passage said at the end was, "When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice."

It would be nice if today's national and global issues were as small as resolving a dispute between two prostitutes. We ourselves could use a little wisdom in our approach to social media. It wouldn't be a bad thing to see a little more wisdom in our  leadership right now as well. Then again, in light of the way our media (social and otherwise) distorts everything, would we recognize wisdom if we saw or heard it?

--The origin of this anecdote was I Kings 3:16-28

No comments:

Popular Posts