- Facebook can create a façade of joy. However, people are never really as happy as they seem on Facebook. For the unhappy person that sees this, this can lead them to discontent.
- Facebook is a great forum to complain. This would be the opposite of #1.
- Facebook has a way of making us bolder than we really are in real life, funnier than we are in real life, and more opinionated than in real life.
- While Facebook is intended to keep relationships connected, it can instead stretch you thin, making you a mile wide and an inch deep. It can be very destructive to good relationships.
- Facebook can lead us to take very small things personally, like when people don’t accept your friend request or when they drop you as a friend.
- Facebook can lead us to set wrong expectations of others- like getting upset when other people aren’t on Facebook or as “connected” as we are.
- Facebook is an easy but terribly dangerous place for working out interpersonal problems (through passive aggressive remarks about seemingly anonymous people).
- Facebook tricks us into thinking we are changing the world or making a huge influence with our sharing of articles and jumping on soapboxes when we are mostly just preaching to the choir (the choir being whatever our friend constituency is—if they haven’t already de-friended us).
- Facebook feeds narcissism. 99% of people don’t think our pictures are all that great or what we do is all that amazing; but since I have my own profile, I’m lead to think everyone is anxiously waiting to see my next move.
- Facebook is an acceptable way of posting immodest pictures of oneself, forever etched into the webosphere.
- Facebook is an acceptable way of being nosy- or “nebby” if you live in Pittsburgh. Really. I’m serious. Why do I care what your cat is doing at 1130pm when lying in bed? Yet, I think to self, “I wonder what so and so is doing right now?” So, I tap my mobile device and breeze down the page to see the details of everyone’s life and maybe shoot a message to a couple people to see if they’re still up too. (And knowing this about others feeds our narcissism even more- #9).
Here are a few questions possibly worth asking yourself before you post or comment:
- Do I want people to envy something about me- my new toy, my fun experience, my burger from Burger King?
- Do I want people to think I’m extremely smart because of this post and my knowledge of this particular area?
- Do I want people to focus their attention on me because of my wit and humor?
A few things way to avoid some of these dangers:
- Don’t write anything to or about anyone that you wouldn't say to their face (and if you would say it to their face, you probably still shouldn't say it on Facebook).
- Don’t share an article or piece of information that you don’t know to be accurate. Even Wikipedia is more reliable than a Facebook discussion thread.
- Beware of your opinions. Facebook might not be the best place to be overly objective and specific.
- Give people space. Don’t expect them to use Facebook the way you use it, or for that matter, use it at all.
Lest you think I hate Facebook and have deleted my account (which I haven’t), don’t get me wrong. There are many good things about it like staying in touch with family, sharing pictures with long-distance relatives, connecting with old friends you otherwise may never connect with, and staying up to date with deals, activities, new products, helpful resources. These are all redeeming qualities of this technology and from that perspective, a gift from God. It doesn't have to tear down relationships or be self-congratulatory in nature. And being funny or posting lots of pictures doesn't itself mean you are narcissistic. So don't misread this.
However, for all the good, Facebook has a way of bringing out the worst in us doesn't it? Facebook, at the end of the day, really is all about you and me. That’s the idea behind it—my profile, my pictures, my life, my status, my feelings, my favorite movie, my favorite candy. The more comments and likes the better. If I can think of the smartest, funniest, snarkiest, meanest response to something, then maybe, just maybe, I can get more likes on my comment than the actual post originally got itself!
So, are we using Facebook simply as a self-exalting kingdom-building project? -- to build up confidence in and attract attention to ourselves- our opinions, our perceptions, our confident assertions, our beauty, our great life, our complaints?
Instead, let’s work together to exalt God’s kingdom by receiving Facebook as a gift of His good creation to be enjoyed for good, not exploited for self.