Dec 3, 2010
neil

Facebook – Foe?

I’m a facebook fan as I pointed out in my earlier post but there are reasons to be cautious. Here are 13 factors that we need to bear in mind if we want to use this technology for the glory of God.

Don’t waste your life.

Procrastination. How much time is eaten up when we could be getting on with doing other, better things. Work, praying, hanging out with ‘real’ people.
Ill-discipline. How easy is it to stay up late into the night messing around – ‘just one more click’ we say to ourselves – even when friends have gone to bed we can continue ‘virtual friendships’.
Poor priorities. Fifty percent of Facebook users visit the site every day. I wonder whether even fifty percent of Christians read their Bible and pray every day. C.f. Psalm 1.
Addiction. As human beings we have sinful natures that are prone to addictive weaknesses. The very nature of certain technologies may make them harder to resist. Internet has constant novelty and constant access. Here is how one journalist put it:
I’m all but surgically attached to the web. I’m working 24/7, and increasingly isolated from social interaction. Going to the Atlantic offices helps, but getting a grip on this thing is hard.’

Maturity

Facebook is focused around younger people who have most to learn in being godly and controlled in their use of technology. Bad habits develop early and are then harder to kick.

Relationships

Flirting. I may not think of it as such but might my behaviour towards the opposite sex become a way to lead them on? Maybe the pictures I post at the very least might be unhelpful to them? Do I use Facebook to check-out people I might be interested in dating but then that lead to unhealthy thoughts, even lust?
Projecting an image. Do I use Facebook to re-create myself. To show off by projecting a false me, a new ‘me’ that people wouldn’t recognise if they really knew me.
Inappropriate intimacy? Why should I view photobooks of people I hardly know? What is the point of a ‘wall’ on which private remarks become public comment?
Saying things we might regret. It’s easy to type a few words in a status bar that easily offend. Even Bishops do it . (link)
Public exclusion. Everyone knows who and who are not ‘friends’ or who’s not been invited to the event, etc.

Virtue of humility

Narcissism. If the heart of sin is as Luther says ‘Life turned in ourselves’ then Facebook is the perfect platform for sin. How easy it is to use Facebook as a place to promote ourselves and how many friends we have and what a great time we’re having. Facebook is a way of saying ‘look at me’ everybody.
CS Lewis says ‘Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less’. Using Facebook to promote Christian humility is a challenge for all of us.

Celebration of trivial and superficial

Superficiality. It’s not easy to say anything meaningful on Facebook. Such platforms don’t seem to be a good forum for in-depth heart-to-heart talks or extended discussion or discourse. If this is my primary means of relating will a shallow culture turn me into a shallow culture – Nicholas Carr seems to think so. As a culture we don’t know how to relate intimately. Deep intimacy is avoided. We prefer superficial and even anonymous relationships.
Lack of accountability. How easy to invest energy in lots of superficial friendships and fail to develop a few good friendships. The danger is of hiding behind superficiality which might be enough in the happy student bubble but is disastrous for a whole life lived for God.

The very way it weakens our thinking

The blogging mind does not easily adjust to reading a book or allowing an unformed thought stay unformed. Even when you carve out time for more offline reading or living, it’s hard to switch gears. And the danger of burnout is serious.’ Andrew Sullivan, ‘A Blog Sabbath?
I’ll leave the last word to Don Carson:
Scarcely less important than speed of access is the Internet’s sheer intoxicating addictiveness—or, more broadly, we might be better to think of the intoxicating addictiveness of the entire digital world. Many are those who are never quiet, alone, and reflective, who never read material that demands reflection and imagination.’

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