I finally finished watching all four seasons of Black Mirror on Netflix. And after watching the episode, “Hated in the Nation,” I wanted to start a conversation about the power of our words. This post does contain some spoilers, so save and come back to this post once you’ve finished watching the episode. And if you missed any of the other posts in my Sermon Notes series, you can check them out here and here.
In “Hated in the Nation,” the hashtag #DeathTo was created on social media to poll which individual deserved to die. Anyone could be nominated with the hashtag for any act or behavior deemed unpopular by the public. For example, a rapper was nominated after he ridiculed a young fan of his on television. The hashtag quickly became popular on social media, giving individuals an opportunity to voice their dislike towards others, in a seemingly harmless manner (or so they thought).
Unfortunately, those using the hashtag on social media did not comprehend the gravity of their actions. At the end of each day since its inception, the creator of the hashtag used futuristic bees to kill the individual with the highest number of votes. Although the media reported about the deaths of the victims, it did not appear that the public associated their deaths with the hashtag. In the end, the creator of the hashtag deceives the police detectives to activate a code that used the bees to kill everyone who used the hashtag. Those that participated in the polls were his true targets, as he wanted to show that this behavior was not a victimless crime.
I believe this episode was perfectly executed in reminding us to be self-conscious of our behaviors and actions. Here are three lessons that I learned from the episode:
There is Power in our Tongues
While I was watching this episode, Ephesians 4:29 came into my mind. It states, “do not use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” While we have the free will to do and say (almost) anything we want, it is more beneficial to speak positivity into the lives of others. The participants on social media allowed their emotions to react in a manner opposite to how they might have acted in a calmer state. Additionally, being given an excuse (i.e. the hashtag) to voice their opinions in a negative manner, made them more comfortable to do so. This was (and still is) notoriously seen with some Trump supporters during his campaign and current leadership role. Through his rhetoric and beliefs, he has given them the excuse to openly express their disdain for certain demographic groups. Instead of speaking words of harm and death, we should speak words that speak life into others.
For Every Action, There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction
In Proverbs 21:23, Solomon wrote: “those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Once the detectives realized the true intentions of the poll, viewers (at least I did) immediately turned their attention to one of the detectives. In a tactic to make the creator aware they knew his identity, the detective used the hashtag with the creator’s name and picture. Although he tried to do the right thing and the save the lives of future victims, the method of his heroics ended his life. Sometimes it is better to hold your tongue (or fingers on the keyboard) than to speak harmful words. We may not realize the effects we are causing in the lives of others until it is too late. If you have read or watched 13 Reasons Why you can understand the connection even more. The classmates of Hannah Baker all played some role in her reasoning to commit suicide, but they were unaware of this role until they heard the tapes. We never know what other people are going through in life, so take care when judging others. For me, I would rather hold my tongue from speaking negativity, than experience agonizing guilt over their reactions or physical punishment (now or later).
We Should Fill People Up with Good Things
When looking for Bible verses that spoke about the power of our words, I came across Proverbs 18:20-21. It reads, “from the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” This is truly powerful. We have the ability to fill people up with the words that we speak to them. The previous point warned us to hold our tongues of negativity, this point encourages us to speak positivity to others. Our society is becoming more egocentric, blinding us from those around. If we look up from our phones and daily lives and acknowledge others (ex: smile, “hello,” etc.), we could undoubtedly affect the lives of others. School bullying and cyberbullying are becoming more of a problem for our youth compared to earlier generations. Imagine if people made more of an effort to interact with or intervene the bullying of Seung-Hui Cho or Nikolas Cruz; perhaps these horrible school shootings would not have occurred. Hear me out, I am not saying that the shooter’s lives are more important than the victims, but that they are equal. God made all of us in His image and we are all important. Therefore, let us speak life to those who are outcast, shy, mean-tempered, seemingly happy, and everyone in between.
I believe there is power not just in the words that we speak, but also there is power in the words that we don’t speak to others. Speaking up for someone is just as important as speaking life to someone. This week, let us be conscious of how we interact with others. Let what we say and how we act towards others be uplifting and encouraging. For if the tables were turned, we would want the same sympathy and compassion from others.
Thanks for reading everyone! If you enjoyed this post, make sure to like/comment/subscribe/share. Also, if you haven’t watched Black Mirror, what are you waiting for? lol. Have a great (short) week.