If you haven’t heard about Facebook, you probably won’t read this blog post either because you have been living in a cave for the last 5 years and probably don’t own a computer! Everyone, it seems, is joining Facebook. It seems like at least once a week, someone I would never have expected joins Facebook. It is no longer just a college social networking site anymore–everyone and anyone is joining Facebook. In fact, Facebook is reporting that 5 million new users are joining each week–over 1 million of those are new users in the United States!
So what should we as Christians think about Facebook? Should we shun it as the devil’s spawn and boycott it like some did with Disney not too long ago? Should we embrace facebook and attempt to redeem it–use it for good rather than evil? I am more comfortable with the latter, though in some ways we might all be better off if Facebook was never created.
Whatever your view on Facebook, one thing is for sure–Facebook is massively popular. It is not a dying trend–stats show Facebook users are joining by the millions, so as Christians we ought to think about how Facebook can be beneficial and how it can be harmful, and how thoughtful Christians can use it wisely and how it can and often does provide dangerous temptations for Christians with weaker consciences.
If you don’t already know, I should go ahead and admit upfront–I am a Facebook user. As a family pastor I would advise parents to be very careful about letting their children on Facebook and if they do, to monitor their children/teenager’s activity on Facebook very closely. I do not believe that Facebook is inherently good or evil. Facebook is kinda like money I suppose–it can be used for great good or great evil. We always need to be clear that sin does not originate in non-entities like Facebook. Sin originates in the hearts of human beings. Because so many of the people on Facebook are party-wild, attention-driven college/high school age people–Facebook, for some, can become a playground for immorality. My experience on Facebook has been positive overall though, because I steer clear of the buck-wild-party-crazy culture of Facebook and I think it is possible for others to do the same.
I hope that my being on Facebook has done some good for the kingdom of God. I don’t mean for that to sound arrogant, but I really do hope that I have done some good for the kingdom by being on Facebook–that is why I am on–to encourage and communicate with brothers and sisters in Christ and to point others to Christ. Bottom line is that Facebook is built on communication. Even though people communicate there in mind-numbingly stupid ways (i.e. poking; or giving each other “gifts” or “pieces of flare”–sorry if you are a poker, but come on–you have to admit poking is stupid), it is nonetheless a place of communication. Significant communication can and does occur on Facebook, it just takes a little more work than most of us have become accustomed to. There are a handful of really wonderful people that I keep up with regularly on Facebook–we share prayer requests, we talk about the Lord and about ministry, and generally encourage one another on Facebook.
Another thing I have done on Facebook that has been helpful, is to feed all my blog posts onto my profile page–that way I am putting some gospel-centered (at least I hope my blog posts are gospel-centered) information on Facebook where some people who wouldn’t come to my blog might read it and be challenged on a biblical or worldview issue that they had not considered before. I am attempting to put the gospel out there on Facebook for all my “friends” to see! The “home” or “news” page advertises all my blog posts so that my friends can decide if they want to read them.
That said, I think a great number of people who get on Facebook often become addicted to less than helpful elements of it–i.e. looking at people you barely know’s pictures, status updates of no consequence, movie compatability and ninja quizes (seriously!), comparing top friends, etc. Some of these things are relatively harmless on occasion, but not when we become addicted to them! And we have all heard the story of married people getting on Facebook and starting secret romances with old flings behind the back of their spouse. There is no way that I can say all that I want to say about Facebook in one blog post, so over the next few days/weeks I am going to write a series of posts on Facebook explaining how it can be used for good and for evil as well as some things parents should be aware of before allowing their children on a social networking site like Facebook.
So here are some posts to look for in the near future:
How Facebook Makes People Dumber
Should My Child be on Facebook? How to Guide and Monitor Teens on Facebook
How to Use Facebook to Encourage Your Soul
How to Use Facebook to Destroy Your Soul
I may come up with some other ideas for posts as we go, but that is what I have so far–I hope I have piqued your interest! I am really looking forward to these posts!