The Friday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a reflection on a recent event or topic and a new feature of this blog for Fridays. The topic could be something taken from the news cycle, popular trend in culture (e.g., movies, music, etc.), a debate on social media, or the like.
As of March of this year, 1.44 billion people worldwide use Facebook. Just in case you are wondering, the population of the world is estimated at 7.13 billion. Thus, roughly 20% of the world uses Facebook.
In more industrialized societies, the percentage of Facebook users increases. For example, the country with the most Facebook users, as of 2014, is our country – the United States of America. 160 million Americans use Facebook; that is a little over 50% of our country that is a Facebook user!
In my home church, Wichita Bible Church, the percentage of users is about 62%. Thus, it is rarer (at least in our country) to meet a non-Facebook user than to meet one who has joined Facebook.
Facebook has had it’s fair share of supporters and critics, both inside and outside of the church.
In today’s post, I wanted to share five things I don’t like about Facebook and two weeks from now, I will share five things I like about Facebook. And as I post these reasons, it is important to know I am sharing these from a Christian perspective. Many non-Christians will not agree with my lists, because they won’t resonate with their worldview or view of Scripture.
So without further delay …
#1 – What I don’t like about Facebook is how it magnifies our complaining. Complaining has, and will continue to be, a sin all of us battle. It’s not new, because Paul told us a few thousand years ago to do everything without grumbling or complaining (Phil 2:14). Before some of our modern technologies involving social media, complaining was more private. It was reserved for those people who were in your living room or on the telephone or maybe in a comments section in a newspaper editorial page. But now, Facebook invites us all to complain as often as we like to as many “friends” that we have on Facebook. And if they decide to re-post of “share” our complaining, the audience for our sin increases. Instead of an audience of a few to hear our complaints, now our complaints can be read by hundreds or thousands (depending on how many “friends” you have on Facebook). Since we will be held accountable for every careless word spoken (Matt 12:36), it should cause us to wonder if Facebook users who tend to use their “wall” for complaining will have more to “own up to” in heaven than others.
#2 – What I don’t like about Facebook is how it encourages narcissism. This is probably the biggest complaint from both Christians and non-Christians. Creating your own profile, posting selfies, and sharing with the world what YOU think can create a monster ego, and Facebook encourages you to feed it often. We grow into thinking that everyone wants and needs to know everything about us. Over time, we convince ourselves that everything about lives is relevant to everyone on Facebook and that we are an important part of time spent by those on Facebook. We convince ourselves that we matter to everyone else. We believe, dare I say, that everyone lives in our world. And yet, Paul speaks clearly to this issue as well when he tells us to do nothing out of vain conceit (Phil 2:3-4).
#3 – What I don’t like about Facebook is how it is redefining relationships. No one really seems to know what a friend is anymore. On Facebook, a “friend” is simply someone who says, “I will allow you to view my profile and wall if you allow me to follow yours.” That is the only criteria for being a Facebook “friend.” In the “real world,” becoming friends includes sharing the same Lord or sharing similar convictions or enjoying the company of another person or finding another who you can share your life with. None of those are factors for Facebook “friends.” Facebook is minimalizing friendships; it is taking the face-to-face contact out of our relationships. It is removing the priority of physically being together and brainwashing us into thinking that we can be friends simply by reading words on another person’s “wall” or viewing their vacation pictures. On Facebook, I have 600 “friends.” Proverbs 18:24 says that having many friends can bring you to ruin. Instead, Solomon says, we ought to be finding people who can be closer to us than a brother. You can’t develop that type of friendship on Facebook.
#4 – What I don’t like about Facebook is how it encourages time-wasting. According to a study released last year, Americans spend an average of 40 minutes per days on Facebook. That is over four hours per week on Facebook. Over the course of an entire year, the average Facebook user in America has spent a little over 10 full days on Facebook! Yowsers! Do I need to offer proof that Facebook can be a time-waster? There are times in my week when I find myself visiting Facebook more often than I engage someone in conversation or go to the bathroom or eat or think upon God. I cannot imagine that any of us will be laying in our death beds one day and say to our loves ones gathered around us, “My one regret is that I didn’t spend more time posting on my Facebook wall or reading your posts.”
#5 – What I don’t like about Facebook is how it encourages us to be busybodies. There are some many interesting features on Facebook (e.g., photo albums, event pages, maps of places you have traveled) that entice us to just get onto Facebook and not log off until we have checked everything we have. It is so easy to be Martha who was so busy that she never engaged in conversation with Christ (Luke 10). Paul was concerned about those whose lives were disorderly, not really working but busying their life with frivolous matters (II Thess 3:11).
I am a Facebook user and will continue to be one, because I believe some of the positives are weightier than the negatives. And if you want to know how Facebook can be profitable, you will have to re-visit this blog in two weeks.
Until then, check your heart today if you are Facebook user. Is Facebook a tool or a hindrance to your walk with the Lord? Is Facebook distracting you from deepening your communion with God and His people? Are you using Facebook to build up and edify those who follow you or are you known for being a whiner or complainer with your Facebook wall?