I’ve just read two intriguing articles on the subject of the social network website, ‘Facebook.’ One was from a secular writer, while the other was carried in a Christian periodical and approached the subject from a Christian perspective. As a Pastor and non-Facebook-user, I am often asked my view on the pros and cons of having a Facebook account. Parents often ask advice because they feel left behind by modern media whereas some young people ask out of concern and with a desire to do what is right. So, how do I answer the question, ‘Is ‘Facebook’ right or wrong?’ The basic concept of keeping in touch with others is not sinful. For years people have corresponded in different ways, for example, by face to face conversation, by letter, by telephone and in more recent times by email. Facebook brings that social interaction on to a different level. Messages are posted on a ‘wall’ and are available (with various settings and restrictions) for others to see. That in itself is not wrong. In fact it can be used to good gospel effect. Gospel messages, personal testimonies, church invitations, recorded sermons and Scripture texts can be posted and used as a means of evangelism. However despite the potential for good it would be naive to give the impression that there are no dangers. Consider the following problems:
Facebook can become addictive. It captivates the mind and can lead to a very unhealthy obsession. Some Facebook users spend hours each day writing and communicating. It is often the first thing in the morning and last thing at night and as a result other important aspects of life are ignored. For a Christian this can have disastrous results for times of private worship. It can also damage family communication.
Facebook provides a platform for living out fantasy. A Facebook user can create a virtual world for himself or herself. Reality can be replaced with fantasy. On occasions this has led to immoral behaviour and while there may be no physical contact, the exchange of improper messages and pictures has resulted in the breaking of the 7th commandment.
Facebook has been used irresponsibly and without careful reserve. Some postings are incredibly and unwisely personal. This is not wise or appropriate. Furthermore there is often an element of exhibitionism, some of which is sexual in content. This is not holy or glorifying to God.
Facebook has been used as means of grooming and luring others into sin. The internet is a world-wide arena for paedophiles and other profane people. False ‘friends’ can be extremely dangerous and there have been numerous news reports of young people being lured away from their homes into the company of evil men and women. This poses a great threat to young people.
Facebook can feed a relentless desire for self-promotion. It is often all about “me” and the need to be the centre of attention. Feedback is important, because it shows how ‘popular’ a person is and of course the more ‘friends’ the better. This can lead to a proud and selfish way of thinking. Even secular writers have noted that narcissism is a large factor in Facebook postings. This self-centredness is self-destructive.
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