I have said this already, but let me say it again–I am a Facebook user and glad to be so. Soon I will be posting on How to Use Facebook to Encourage Your Soul, so I am not opposed to Facebook, but I do think it has incredible potential to aid us all in becoming dumber!
Exhibit A: Facebook Groups
Facebook can contribute to all of us becoming dumber by the sheer number of them, but perhaps more importantly by the fact that the vast majority of them are pointless. Let me give you a couple examples from groups I have actually been a member of:
1. People for Doug Pitt–a group dedicated to the honor of Brad Pitt’s lesser known brother, Doug.
2. I was Scared for my Life by a Slap Bracelet in 93: A Group dedicated to the honor of the hideous and painful fashion trend of the early 90’s.
Perhaps my favorite Facebook groups are the various groups trying to be the biggest group on facebook, often aptly titled “BIGGEST FACEBOOK GROUP EVER!” All you have to do is join and you are a part of history! I also typically do not join the “WE ARE CHRISTIANS ON FACEBOOK AND PROUD OF IT”-groups. Not that I am not proud of being a Christian, but it just seems like a bit of misunderstanding of what it means to be a witness for Christ. Nor I am all that interested in being a group with a bunch of “Christians” who I don’t know from Adam. Besides everyone on Facebook puts “Christian” in their religious views on Facebook anyway–so everyone on Facebook must be Christians, right (hopefully you sense my sarcasm!)?
As a side note–did you hear about the guy who said he would eat everything on the Burger King menu in one sitting, if 1 million people “friended” him on Facebook? Apparently the proposal worked and he went to Burger King, and got through about 25% of the menu then puked his guts out!
Now let me be clear, it is not necessarily wrong to join Facebook groups, unless perhaps you join one of the many groups dedicated to debauchery . . . if you don’t know what “debauchery” means, log out of Facebook and go look it up in a dictionary–it will be a good exercise for you (if you have forgotten how to use a dictionary, go to http://www.dictionary.com and search “debauchery”)! But seriously, none of these groups are wrong to join, however, Facebook begins to make us all dumber when these sorts of things begin to replace former hobbies that served to help us learn something new or develop a skill.
Exhibit B: Quizes
Again, nothing wrong with taking some of these quizes from time to time, but the sheer number of them is astounding and these quizes will make you dumber if you take every quiz offered to you. Examples: “How Ninja Are You?” “Which Saved by the Bell Character Are You?” “Movie Compatability Quiz.” I must admit that I have taken a few such quizzes, but some I just refuse to take . . . I guess I will never know if I am more like Zack or Screech!
Exhibit C: Facebook Games
Again nothing wrong with these until they become replacement of more profitable endeavors. However, if you are playing Pirates for 2-3 hours a day, perhaps its time to cut back!
By the way, what is this Pirates game? I don’t understand it at all!
Exhibit D: Poking
No one knows what this poking business is all about. Seriously no one. People who I never talk to poke me all the time on facebook–what is the proper response? Poke them back . . . NO! I say stop the madness–if you are reading this, I encourage you to make a personal commitment to never poke anyone ever again!
Exhibit E: Newsfeed/Status Updates
The Newsfeed is probably the portion of Facebook that has the most potential to make you dumber. What I mean is that the vast majority of what is posted in my Newsfeed is not news I need to know. I don’t need to Know that Suzy Q can’t wait for her sister to get into town. Nor do I need that Jimmy D is hungry for a grilled cheese sandwhich. Becoming privy to such information is not sinful and certainly does not necessarily make you dumber. Where the Newsfeed has such powerful dumbing power is in its ability to become something we check incessantly. The rather random tidbits about people we barely know posted on the Newsfeed seem to have an incredible ability to consume us. So much so that Facebook can become a replacement for the Newspaper, morning news, fellowship with other believers, or perhaps even our daily Spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading.
It should also be noted that updating your status can often times seem very narcisstic (perhaps, this is another opportunity to unplug and open the dictionary). Facebook often times feels like a celebration of ME but I digress, perhaps that is another post I will write in the Future–“How Facebook makes People more Self-Centered.”
The superficial things of life are found in heavy dosage on Facebook. And these things seem to be rather addictive–a Citi group panel recently reported that they believe Facebook (and other social networking sites, Myspace etc.) are more addictive than pornography. Apparently Facebook gets more hits than adult-themed internet sites. You might say that Facebook is much less dangerous than porn and in many ways I would agree. However, if the Facebook Newsfeed, Pirates, joining new groups, and Poking take up the vast majority of your free time, then I fear Facebook may be making you dumber and perhaps colder to Spiritual things.
Again, let me say that I am a Facebook user–I even update my status from time to time, and thus I will soon write a post on why I like Facebook and gladly attempt to use it to the glory of God. However, I think when all these trivial things become insidous time wasters, we are in danger of losing focus on the weighty and important things of life.
So if you find yourself spending inordinate amounts of time looking at pictures of people you hardly know and capturing other Facebook users and making them serve on your pirate ship, then maybe its time to set some goals on how you will discipline yourself to use Facebook wisely such that it doesn’t become a replacement of things of more eternal importance. And trust me, I say this as someone who has wasted more time than I would like to admit on Facebook!